Philosophy of Habermas

Philosophy of Habermas

Andrew Edgar
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 305
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  • Book Info
    Philosophy of Habermas
    Book Description:

    In The Philosophy of Habermas Andrew Edgar covers the full range of Habermas's ideas from his early work on student politics, the public sphere, and the development of Marxist theory to his current work on communicative action, ethics, and law. Edgar examines Habermas's key texts in chronological order and charts and assesses the continuities and discontinuities in his thought, both in terms of subject matter and methodology. He also identifies Habermas's unfulfilled potential, or unresolved challenges remaining from earlier projects, highlighting those points in Habermas's career where clear choices of direction have been made and their implications evaluated. Each chapter focuses on one or more key texts and can therefore be read as a self-standing essay on that key reading and the point that it represents in Habermas's development. However, material in each chapter also serves to identify the links between Habermas's texts and to give shape to Habermas's broader project. Some of the themes that are examined are Habermas's early reshaping of Marxist theory and practice, his characterization of critical theory, his conception of universal pragmatics, his theories of communicative action and discourse ethics, his accounts of the rationalization and colonisation of the lifeworld and his defence of the project of modernity. Edgar engages with Habermas's critics throughout and contrasts his views with the ideas of contemporaries such as Adorno, Gadamer, Foucault, Rawls, Luhmann and Rorty to give a clear sense of Habermas's place and importance in contemporary philosophy and social theory.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8169-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 The Marxist heritage
    (pp. 1-26)

    Habermas’s creativity, alongside the breadth and contemporary relevance of his work, was already evident by the end of the 1960s. Between 1953, when he wrote his first significant academic article (reviewing Heidegger’sIntroduction to Metaphysics), and 1970, when the second edition ofThe Logic of the Social Scienceswas published, Habermas matured from a student of what he has himself called a narrowly German philosophy (AS: 80) to the acknowledged inheritor of the Frankfurt tradition of Western Marxism, which is to say, of German critical theory. By 1970 his work was based as profoundly upon an engagement with Anglo-Saxon analytic...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The public sphere
    (pp. 27-55)

    In the theoretical essays of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Habermas begins to address the problems of developing a Marxism that is relevant to contemporary capitalism: a “theory of society conceived with practical intention” (TP: 1). While critical of the positivism and instrumentalism that dominated both the natural and social sciences at that time, he was equally critical of the alternatives that were offered by Hegelianism, be it that of Lukacs or Adorno and Horkheimer: Lukacs’s dogmatism leading to authoritarianism; Adorno’s negativity leading to a politically impotent quietism. Lukács and Adorno, each in his own way, were criticized for...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The idea of critical theory
    (pp. 56-101)

    After his return to the University of Frankfurt, Habermas published a series of works that brought new focus and coherence to his critique of positivism and his understanding of exactly what is entailed by “a theory of society conceived with a practical intention” (TP: 1). At the core of this work is the attempt to counter “scientism”, the tendency of positivism to regard the methods of the natural sciences as the only legitimate form of meaningful inquiry (KHI: 4).On the Logic of the Social Sciences,published in 1967, responds to the dominance of scientism in the philosophy of the...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Legitimation crisis
    (pp. 102-137)

    In 1973 Habermas left Frankfurt in order to become Director of Research at the Max Plank Institute for Research into the Living Conditions of the Scientific-Technical World in Starnberg. An initial product of this new working environment wasLegitimation Crisis,published some five years after the completion ofKnowledge and Human Interests. Legitimation Crisis(the direct translation of its German title isLegitimation Problems in Late Capitalism) is concerned with the nature of contemporary capitalism. Habermas formulates a series of immensely rich and subtle conjectures about the potential for fundamental structural and political change in capitalism, grounded in an analysis...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The theory of communicative action
    (pp. 138-187)

    Habermas’s work between 1973 and 1983 may be seen to be primarily concerned to work out the implications ofLegitimation Crisis.This entails development of a theoretical reconstruction of the competences that people use in everyday communication: universal pragmatics. This takes its final form in the magisterialThe Theory of Communicative Action.At the same time he is working out the ethical theory that is outlined in the final ofLegitimation Crisis.(A collection of essays on this theme was published in 1983.) As is perhaps unsurprising given the direct link between universal pragmatics andThe Theory of Communicative Action,...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Modernity
    (pp. 188-242)

    In the early 1980s Habermas gave a short address entitled “Modernity-An Incomplete Project”, first in German in Frankfurt and then in English in New York. This address clearly summarized the change that Habermas’s thought had undergone since the late 1960s. In part this change was due to the “linguistic turn” that had seen him shift the very foundation of philosophical inquiry away from the subjectivity of consciousness to the intersubjectivity of communication. Yet perhaps more fundamentally, “Modernity-An Incomplete Project” marked a recognition of the change that European intellectual culture had undergone since the 1960s. In the 1960s Habermas was primarily...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Law and democracy
    (pp. 243-272)

    The political changes of the late 1980s and 1990s were even more dramatic than the ideological and cultural shifts of the preceding decades (BFN:491-2,514). For a European, the fall of the Berlin Wall is the mid-point of this period. This extraordinary event was the fulcrum upon which turned the exposure of the economic and political bankruptcy of the old Soviet Union, the subsequent reunification of Germany and the reshaping of Central Europe (as, on the one hand, countries such as Poland, that were independent but effectively occupied reasserted their autonomy and, on the other hand, states such as Lithuania, the...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 273-276)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-286)
  15. Index
    (pp. 287-292)