if….

I turned out to be Habermasian, wouldn’t that be hilarious?!


It isn’t really gonna happen, unless I try to go back and resuscitate his abandoned project of the “emancipatory interest that describes our ability to reflect critically on our own presuppositions” (9) and in particular on a “subject’s reflection on specific obfuscations that have developed in the course of human history and the resultant reorientation of action on the basis of ridding oneself of these obfuscations” (9) (from the first chapter in Jurgen Habermas: Critic in the Public Sphere by Robert C. Holub).
I dunno. I read it and it kinda sounded like me. Other of his stuff doesn’t though, this drive to find universal rules for “the conditions of possibility of utterances” (11). I’m into the conditions of possibility for utterances, no doubt! It’s the universal rules part that I’m against. We have to do a better job with disagreement and diversity before we’re gonna be able to sketch an undergirding/overriding structure. (btw – what is revealed by choice of vantage point, I wonder?!)
But, suppose I play with his notion of reconstructive science (“a term Habermas uses to refer to sciences in which there is a dialectical relationship between the philosophical bases of the field of study, on the one hand, and the empirical results of research in the given field“) in the surely inadequate way I understand it from a two-page summary of how he builds on Wittgenstein, Austin, and Searle (not to mention Popper’s three world theory). He’s interested in “statements made about reality” which, according to him, can be distinguished into two levels: the semantic and “the very rules that inform the production of utterances or that inform linguistic interaction” (12).
Then he’s got this notion of validity claims. Does his notion of “intention” jive with Burke’s “motives”? I’m a little bound up here, because this all almost makes sense to me and then in the end it seems just a bit too clean-cut and too originary – as in emanating “from” a subject “into” the world. His later work supposedly addresses intersubjectivity and this is where he again becomes appealing . . .
Maybe the thing that distances me is the fact that once validity claims are established in some kind of normative fashion, they provide “a vehicle for criticizing the distortions of communication that have characterized human history” (15) [not to mention more microsocial relationships than i care to recount at the moment]. However, what I’m recognizing is that a focus on what’s wrong really doesn’t move towards re-solution. The trick is to identify what’s “wrong” and use the knowledge of it to shift the frame of the discourse onto a contrary track.

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