Obviously, some people find this style appealing — and some very much don't. At any rate: to celebrate Habermas's birthday, Geuss published a piece in philosophy magazine The Point in which he argued that Habermas's ideas have very definitely been shown by history to be wrong. In the age of Brexit and Donald Trump, the fraying of liberal internationalism and the resurgence of the populist right, Habermas — and Habermasianism — have been left thoroughly, both politically and philosophically, refuted.
Habermas is the sort of thinker whose work is full not only of jargon, but also of fine, scholastic distinctions, so it can be hard to sum up for a lay audience in a clear, satisfactory way. But to put it reductively: his work pursues a sort of philosophical justification of the idea, popular among contemporary centrists, that the best way to combat any evil is to debate it. Of course, in the real world, not all communication is successful in this way: people as they really exist lie, cheat, exploit each other's ignorance, employ cheap rhetorical tricks; they have selfish interests which conflict with the common good.
But as Geuss points out, in the face of something like Brexit, this theory must seem — regardless of any qualifiers one may couch it in — completely absurd. This is certainly the case — although to Habermas's credit, he has himself written fairly extensively about the nature and significance of such crises. It is rather that Brexit gives us a very clear-cut example of an issue where not discussing it — refusing to discuss Britain's membership of the EU at all — would have been a lot more helpful.
As Geuss puts it:. Almost every day gives us another example of the sort of thing that Geuss or rather: a Geuss more obsessively plugged-in to internet and popular culture could have raised in support of his argument. Discourse begets discourse — but that discourse often works actively against real understanding. To put it bluntly, the interests of humanity would often be better-served by passing over certain issues in silence. In response to this, both Martin Jay, a leading historian of the Frankfurt School , and Seyla Benhabib, a political philosopher heavily influenced by Habermas who teaches at Yale , wrote sniffy, somewhat pearl-clutching rejoinders scolding Geuss for his rudeness in even daring to question their mentor.
Both rejoinders cover pretty similar theoretical ground. They argue that, in rejecting Habermas's specific ideas about communicative rationality, Geuss is denying the possibility of rational communication as such. He thus gives any would-be dictator theoretical leeway to ride roughshod over the institutions underpinning liberal democracy; indeed, without communicative rationality, any criticism of the people in power would be subject to a sort of performative contradiction. Hence the convergence of specific materialism with criticism, with social change in practice. The fact of suffering can be a grounds for discourse, giving us a reason to ask the questions which must guide any discussion.
Habermas's works resonate within the traditions of Kant and the Enlightenment and of democratic socialism through his emphasis on the potential for transforming the world and arriving at a more humane, just, and egalitarian society through the realization of the human potential for reason, in part through discourse ethics. While Habermas has stated that the Enlightenment is an "unfinished project," he argues it should be corrected and complemented, not discarded. This includes a critique from a communicative standpoint of the differentiation-based theory of social systems developed by Niklas Luhmann , a student of Talcott Parsons.
His defence of modernity and civil society has been a source of inspiration to others, and is considered a major philosophical alternative to the varieties of poststructuralism. He has also offered an influential analysis of late capitalism. Habermas perceives the rationalization, humanization and democratization of society in terms of the institutionalization of the potential for rationality that is inherent in the communicative competence that is unique to the human species. Habermas introduces the concept of "reconstructive science" with a double purpose: to place the "general theory of society" between philosophy and social science and re-establish the rift between the "great theorization" and the "empirical research".
The model of " rational reconstructions " represents the main thread of the surveys about the "structures" of the world of life "culture", "society" and "personality" and their respective "functions" cultural reproductions, social integrations and socialization.
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For this purpose, the dialectics between "symbolic representation" of "the structures subordinated to all worlds of life" "internal relationships" and the "material reproduction" of the social systems in their complex "external relationships" between social systems and environment has to be considered. This model finds an application, above all, in the "theory of the social evolution", starting from the reconstruction of the necessary conditions for a phylogeny of the socio-cultural life forms the "hominization" until an analysis of the development of "social formations", which Habermas subdivides into primitive, traditional, modern and contemporary formations.
Secondly, it tries to offer some methodological clarifications about the "explanation of the dynamics" of "historical processes" and, in particular, about the "theoretical meaning" of the evolutional theory's propositions. In The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere , Habermas argues that prior to the 18th century, European culture had been dominated by a "representational" culture, where one party sought to "represent" itself on its audience by overwhelming its subjects.
According to Habermas, a variety of factors resulted in the eventual decay of the public sphere, including the growth of a commercial mass media , which turned the critical public into a passive consumer public; and the welfare state, which merged the state with society so thoroughly that the public sphere was squeezed out.
It also turned the "public sphere" into a site of self-interested contestation for the resources of the state rather than a space for the development of a public-minded rational consensus. In this work, Habermas voiced criticism of the process of modernization, which he saw as inflexible direction forced through by economic and administrative rationalization. Habermas has expressed optimism about the possibility of the revival of the public sphere. Several noted academics have provided various criticisms of Habermas's notions regarding the public sphere.
John B. Thompson , a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge ,  has claimed that Habermas's notion of the public sphere is antiquated due to the proliferation of mass-media communications. Michael Schudson from the University of California, San Diego argues more generally that a public sphere as a place of purely rational independent debate never existed.
Nancy Fraser , the Henry A. Habermas offered some early criticisms in an essay, "Modernity versus Postmodernity" , which has achieved wide recognition. In that essay, Habermas raises the issue of whether, in light of the failures of the twentieth century, we "should try to hold on to the intentions of the Enlightenment , feeble as they may be, or should we declare the entire project of modernity a lost cause?
Habermas has several main criticisms of postmodernism :. Habermas first expressed his views on the above-mentioned historians in the Die Zeit on 11 July in a feuilleton a type of culture and arts opinion essay in German newspapers entitled "A Kind of Settlement of Damages". Habermas wrote: "The unconditional opening of the Federal Republic to the political culture of the West is the greatest intellectual achievement of our postwar period; my generation should be especially proud of this. This event cannot and should not be stabilized by a kind of NATO philosophy colored with German nationalism.
The only patriotism that will not estrange us from the West is a constitutional patriotism. Habermas and Jacques Derrida engaged in a series of disputes beginning in the s and culminating in a mutual understanding and friendship in the late s that lasted until Derrida's death in The next year Habermas published "Beyond a Temporalized Philosophy of Origins: Derrida" in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity in which he described Derrida's method as being unable to provide a foundation for social critique. At the end of the s, Habermas approached Derrida at a party held at an American university where both were lecturing.
They then met at Paris over dinner, and participated afterwards in many joint projects. In they held a joint seminar on problems of philosophy, right, ethics, and politics at the University of Frankfurt.
Jürgen Habermas | Holbergprisen
Following the lecture by Habermas, both thinkers engaged in a very heated debate on Heidegger and the possibility of Ethics. In early , both Habermas and Derrida were very active in opposing the coming Iraq War ; in a manifesto that later became the book Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe , the two called for a tighter unification of the states of the European Union in order to create a power capable of opposing American foreign policy. Derrida wrote a foreword expressing his unqualified subscription to Habermas's declaration of February "February 15, or, What Binds Europeans Together: Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in Core Europe" in the book, which was a reaction to the Bush administration 's demands upon European nations for support in the coming Iraq War.
Habermas's attitudes toward religion have changed throughout the years. For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism , from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love.
This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk. Dazu gibt es bis heute keine Alternative. Auch angesichts der aktuellen Herausforderungen einer postnationalen Konstellation zehren wir nach wie vor von dieser Substanz.
Alles andere ist postmodernes Gerede. This statement has been misquoted in a number of articles and books, where Habermas instead is quoted for saying:. Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization.
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To this day, we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.
In his book Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion Between Naturalism and Religion, , Habermas stated that the forces of religious strength, as a result of multiculturalism and immigration, are stronger than in previous decades, and, therefore, there is a need of tolerance which must be understood as a two-way street: secular people need to tolerate the role of religious people in the public square and vice versa.
The dialogue took place on January 14, after an invitation to both thinkers by the Catholic Academy of Bavaria in Munich. In this debate a shift of Habermas became evident—in particular, his rethinking of the public role of religion. Habermas stated that he wrote as a "methodological atheist," which means that when doing philosophy or social science, he presumed nothing about particular religious beliefs. Yet while writing from this perspective his evolving position towards the role of religion in society led him to some challenging questions, and as a result conceding some ground in his dialogue with the future Pope, that would seem to have consequences which further complicated the positions he holds about a communicative rational solution to the problems of modernity.
Jürgen Habermas (1929—)
Habermas believes that even for self-identified liberal thinkers, "to exclude religious voices from the public square is highly illiberal. Though, in the first period of his career, he began as a skeptic of any social usefulness of religion, he now believes there is a social role and utilitarian moral strength in religion, and notably, that there is a necessity of Judeochristian ethics in culture.
In addition, Habermas has popularized the concept of " post-secular " society, to refer to current times in which the idea of modernity is perceived as unsuccessful and at times, morally failed, so that, rather than a stratification or separation, a new peaceful dialogue and coexistence between faith and reason must be sought in order to learn mutually.
Habermas has sided with other 20th-century commentators on Marx such as Hannah Arendt who have indicated concerns with the limits of totalitarian perspectives often associated with Marx's apparent over-estimation of the emancipatory potential of the forces of production. Arendt had presented this in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism and Habermas extends this critique in his writings on functional reductionism in the life-world in his Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason.
As Habermas states:. I do not believe in such an autonomy. Precisely for this reason, the laws governing the economic system are no longer identical to the ones Marx analyzed. Of course, this does not mean that it would be wrong to analyze the mechanism which drives the economic system; but in order for the orthodox version of such an analysis to be valid, the influence of the political system would have to be ignored.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Gummersbach , Rhine Province , Prussia , Germany. Continental philosophy Critical theory Neopragmatism . Brave New World argument Communicative action Communicative rationality Constitutional patriotism Criticism of left fascism Criticism of structuralism Criticism of subject-centered reason Deliberative democracy Discourse ethics The Enlightenment as an unfinished project Instrumental and value-rational action Monological-dialogical ethics distinction  Performative contradiction Postsecularism Post-metaphysical philosophy Rational reconstruction System — lifeworld distinction Structural transformation of the public sphere Universal pragmatics.
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Further information: public sphere. Main article: Historikerstreit.
Collins English Dictionary. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved 28 October — via papers. Between Naturalism and Religion: Philosophical Essays. First chapter. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 April Retrieved Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, Suhrkamp BasisBiographie,