Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remarks on the concept of critique in Habermasian thought

Remarks on the concept of critique in Habermasian thought

Author: Simon Susena

The main purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of critique in Habermasian thought. Given that the concept of critique is a central theoretical category in the work of the Frankfurt School, it comes as a surprise that little in the way of a systematic account which sheds light on the multifaceted meanings of the concept of critique in Habermas's oeuvre can be found in the literature. This paper aims to fill this gap by exploring the various meanings that Habermas attributes to the concept of critique in 10 key thematic areas of his writings: (1) the public sphere, (2) knowledge, (3) language, (4) morality, (5) ethics, (6) evolution, (7) legitimation, (8) democracy, (9) religion, and (10) modernity. On the basis of a detailed analysis of Habermas's multifaceted concerns with the nature and function of critique, the study seeks to demonstrate that the concept of critique can be considered not only as a constitutive element but also as a normative cornerstone of Habermasian thought. The paper draws to a close by reflecting on some of the limitations of Habermas's conception of critique, arguing that in order to be truly critical in the Habermasian sense we need to turn the subject of critique into an object of critique.
Keywords: communication; critical capacity; critical theory; critique; emancipation; Habermas; language; rationality; validity
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Recent papers by Habermas

1) Jürgen Habermas (2010). Review Article: The 'Good Life'—A 'Detestable Phrase': The Significance of the Young Rawls's Religious Ethics for His Political Theory. European Journal of Philosophy 18 (3):443-454.

2)Jürgen Habermas (2010). The Concept of Human Dignity and the Realistic Utopia of Human Rights. Metaphilosophy 41 (4):464-480.
Abstract: Human rights developed in response to specific violations of human dignity, and can therefore be conceived as specifications of human dignity, their moral source. This internal relationship explains the moral content and moreover the distinguishing feature of human rights: they are designed for an effective implementation of the core moral values of an egalitarian universalism in terms of coercive law. This essay is an attempt to explain this moral-legal Janus face of human rights through the mediating role of the (...) concept of human dignity. This concept is due to a remarkable generalization of the particularistic meanings of those "dignities" that once were attached to specific honorific functions and memberships. In spite of its abstract meaning, "human dignity" still retains from its particularistic precursor concepts the connotation of depending on the social recognition of a status—in this case, the status of democratic citizenship. Only membership in a constitutional political community can protect, by granting equal rights, the equal human dignity of everybody
(from here)

3)Jürgen Habermas (2009). Life After Bankruptcy: An Interview. Constellations 16 (2):227-234.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Philosophical Foundations of Habermas’ Critique of Particularistic Liberalism


Jürgen Habermas has emerged as a sharp, and occasionally harsh, critic of the Bush administration’s policies since the Iraq war. Habermas has developed this critique in several of his short pieces and interviews, some of which are available in fine collections in both English and other languages. However, the occasional and journalistic character of Habermas’ political interventions often hide the theoretical basis of his critique. In this paper, I argue that Habermas’ critique of the Bush administration’s foreign policy emanates from, and is founded upon, his conception of modernity, and specifically his views about the relationship between “particularity” and “generality.” The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate how Habermas’ critique can actually be read as a critique of particularism, which Habermas sees operating behind American (and British) foreign policy, and which, in his view, compromises the key achievements of modernity (especially in its Kantian version.)

read full paper here (pdf)
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