After more than sixty years of intellectual endeavour, Habermas has accumulated an oeuvre which not only stands in the tradition of the great systematic social thinkers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century — Hegel, Marx, Durkheim, Weber — but can claim a dignified place beside them. His writings have dealt with the philosophy of language and communication, the basis of moral consciousness, the philosophy of history and the evolution of social life since the dawn of human time, sociological theory on the grand scale, political philosophy and legal theory, and — increasingly — the philosophy of religion. In addition to these multiple strands of activity, over the years Habermas has also published twelve volumes of Kleine Politische Schriften, his interventions — sometimes more academic, sometimes more journalistic and even polemical — on topical social and political issues. How to orient oneself in this vast body of work? As an inheritor of the Hegelian-Marxist tradition of the Frankfurt School, Habermas began with the assumption that humankind can be understood as a kind of macro-subject of its own history — albeit, so far, in an unconscious, self-estranged guise.
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After more than sixty years of intellectual endeavour, Habermas has accumulated an oeuvre which not only stands in the tradition of the great systematic social thinkers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century — Hegel, Marx, Durkheim, Weber — but can claim a dignified place beside them.
His writings have dealt with the philosophy of language and communication, the basis of moral consciousness, the philosophy of history and the evolution of social life since the dawn of human time, sociological theory on the grand scale, political philosophy and legal theory, and — increasingly — the philosophy of religion. In addition to these multiple strands of activity, over the years Habermas has also published twelve volumes of Kleine Politische Schriften, his interventions — sometimes more academic, sometimes more journalistic and even polemical — on topical social and political issues.
How to orient oneself in this vast body of work? As an inheritor of the Hegelian-Marxist tradition of the Frankfurt School, Habermas began with the assumption that humankind can be understood as a kind of macro-subject of its own history — albeit, so far, in an unconscious, self-estranged guise.
Hence, up until the publication of Knowledge and Human Interests in the late s, he conceived of critical social theory as helping members of modern societies to become aware of and capable of overcoming the unperceived constraints and ideological rigidities which prevent them from collectively shaping the social order they inhabit.
However, in a response to the book, his lifelong friend and colleague Karl-Otto Apel pointed out that Habermas had conflated two distinct meanings of self-reflection. The type of self-reflection achieved, for example, by the patient in psychoanalysis — who begins to penetrate and comprehend the opacities of her individual life history — is a process quite distinct from the kind of transcendental reflection inaugurated by Kant, which seeks to delineate the universal structures underpinning cognition and other human competencies.
Such a conflation, Apel argued, is dangerous, because it encourages the belief that reflective political engagement in a risk-laden concrete situation could itself have the status of a kind of science. Wissenschaft als Emanzipation? His principal efforts were directed to proving the meaningfulness of seeking ultimate agreement regarding cognitive truth and practical morality, by showing that simply to engage with one another in discussion commits us to the ideal of a universally valid consensus in normative and theoretical matters.
Correlatively, in developing his social theory, Habermas sought to defend the progressive potential of the modern differentiation of institutionalized discourses structured forms of open, egalitarian argumentation dealing with scientific knowledge-claims, claims to morality and justice, and claims to expressive authenticity pre-eminently in the form of works of art.
This possibility is not available when epistemic issues are mixed up with normative and evaluative ones, as was standardly the case in the pre-modern world. For him, metaphysics is the enterprise of framing a comprehensive view of the world, and the place of human beings within it, in which cognitive, normative and evaluative perspectives are fused.
According to him, this enterprise is no longer plausible, because philosophy must also bow to the separation of validity spheres, and conceive of itself either as collaborative Wissenschaft, seeking universal structures underpinning human capabilities, or merely as the reflexive illumination of a particular socio-cultural world.
The age of the philosopher as prophet or visionary, as represented in twentieth-century Germany by the fateful example of Heidegger, is over — notwithstanding the occasional theatrics of thinkers domiciled in Paris.
The theory of communicative reason does not offer us the image of a possible future condition of free and egalitarian intersubjective relations. Does not a critical philosophy need to provide motivating insights into the core of human existence and its drive to transcend the given — and not simply define the formal conditions of justice and freedom? In Postmetaphysical Thinking Habermas begins to portray religion as a reservoir of such insights, with which philosophy must learn to co-exist, and from which it can indeed learn.
Our religious traditions, he suggests, still resonate in the semantic depths of our fundamental moral and ethical concepts — even in the anemic versions of them traded by professional philosophers. It renounces as outdated any philosophical vision of the world imbued with substantive values.
But then it finds itself intimately linked to extra-philosophical sources of meaning — pre-eminently religion — that are characterized by a fusion of validity spheres. It needs this connection in order to make up for what it has renounced by insisting on their separation.
What balance sheet can we draw up of his tackling of these issues, on the evidence of the current volume? The volume is divided into three parts, each of which deals with the interface between philosophy — or, more generally, rational argumentative discourse — and religion, but focuses on a distinct domain of philosophical enquiry. In Part I, Habermas deals with the function of myth and religious ritual as integral to the emergence of human society as such. Part II is concerned with the venerable question of the relation between faith and knowledge; with his habitual intellectual generosity, Habermas offers extensive, thoughtful and learned responses to the papers which were presented by theologians and philosophers of religion at two conferences devoted to his work, in New York and Vienna.
In the final part he addresses the thorny and acutely topical question of the political relations between the secular and religious citizens of contemporary states, taking as his most important interlocutor John Rawls. As might be inferred from what I have said so far, from the late s onwards Habermas began to worry more and more that a Vernunftmoral in the lineage of Kant — such as he takes his own discourse ethics to be — pays for its secular universalism with a lack of inspiring and motivational power.
Legitimation Crisis, 73 But now this problem becomes much more central to his thinking. But, in the first part he concedes further weaknesses of purely discursive procedures. Habermas argues that a distinctively human form of social life first emerged when action-coordination became dependent on the communicative forging of a shared perspective on objects in the world — a feat of which higher primates, despite their intelligence and ability to use signals, are not capable. However, the distinctively human need to use language to secure social collaboration puts stresses and strains on the individual, who is thrown back on her own initiative in new ways.
In the final part, Habermas explores the implications for democratic politics of this acknowledgement of the enduring roots of religion in the basic dynamics of human sociality. Such a demand, as put forward by Rawls, would place an unreasonable strain on individuals who are not in a position to separate their religious perspective on practical matters from their whole way of being in the world.
In short, it would fail adequately to respect the distinction between fides quae creditur and fides qua creditur — between articles of belief and a lived faith. At the same time, according to Habermas, elected legislators, judges, and other public officials, are under an obligation to frame their decisions in a neutral, secular language, in order that their reasons be accessible to all citizens.
He conceives of this balancing act as dependent on a reciprocal learning process, in which religious believers come to acknowledge the legitimacy of other faiths, the epistemic standing of modern science, and the principles of the liberal democratic order from which they too benefit, while non-believers treat their religious fellow citizens without condescension, and even remain open to insights which may be encapsulated in the language of a faith they do not share.
Habermas likes to portray such a situation as giving the dialectic of enlightenment one more twist. Indeed, this is the guiding theme of an earlier collection of essays — Between Naturalism and Religion. Soft naturalists typically argue that the human world of meaning, mentation and responsible agency, and the world viewed as a causal nexus of physical processes are not in conflict with one another. Many soft naturalists are happy to leave it at that, indifferent to the objection that perspectives that expect to be taken seriously imply ontological commitments.
For him, the human life-world is constituted and interpreted by means of a repertoire of concepts incommensurable with those of the natural sciences. Habermas is all too aware that he may simply be inviting metaphysics in through the back door. But this problem connects with another major issue.
But is this a distinction without a difference? Thomas McCarthy, Cambridge William Mark Hohengarten, Cambridge Ciaran Cronin, Cambridge
Mikabei In the second section, the uneasy relationship between religion and postmetaphysical thinking takes centre stage. An Conversation with Eduardo Mendieta 5. Hence both Kierkegaard and Marx are seen as paths habermqs from this type of thought and stepping stones on the way to functional sociologies and psychologies that set in motion the procedures of communication theory. The volume is divided into three hbermas, each of which deals with the interface between philosophy — or, more generally, rational argumentative discourse — and religion, but focuses on a distinct domain of philosophical enquiry.
HABERMAS POSTMETAPHYSICAL THINKING PDF
Postmetaphysical Thinking II