Thursday, June 08, 2017

New Book: "Postmetaphysical Thinking II"



Postmetaphysical Thinking II

by Jürgen Habermas

(Polity Press, 2017)

276 pages





Description

"There is no alternative to postmetaphysical thinking".

Postmetaphysical thinking is, in the first place, the historical answer to the crisis of metaphysics following Hegel, when the central metaphysical figures of thought began to totter under the pressure exerted by social developments and by developments within science. As a result, philosophy’s epistemological privilege was shaken to its core, its basic concepts were de-transcendentalized, and the primacy of theory over practice was opened to question. For good reasons, philosophy "lost its extraordinary status", but as a result it also courted new problems. In Postmetaphysical Thinking II , the sequel to the 1988 volume that bears the same title [English translation 1992], Habermas addresses some of these problems.

The first section of the book deals with the shift in perspective from metaphysical worldviews to the lifeworld, the unarticulated meanings and assumptions that accompany everyday thought and action in the mode of "background knowledge". Habermas analyses the lifeworld as a "space of reasons" – even where language is not (yet) involved, such as, for example, in gestural communication and rituals. In the second section, the uneasy relationship between religion and postmetaphysical thinking takes centre stage. Habermas picks up where he left off in 1988, when he made the far-sighted observation that "philosophy, even in its postmetaphysical form, will be able neither to replace nor to repress religion", and explores philosophy’s new-found interest in religion, among other topics. The final section includes essays on the role of religion in the political context of a post-secular, liberal society.

Translation of "Nachmetaphysisches Denken II" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2012). See my blog post on the German edition here.

Contents

Linguistification of the Sacred. In Place of a Preface

I. The Lifeworld as a Space of Reasons

1. From Worldviews to the Lifeworld
2. The Lifeworld as a Space of Symbolically Embodied Reasons
3. A Hypothesis concerning the Evolutionary Meaning of Rites [video]

II. Postmetaphysical Thinking

4. The New Philosophical Interest in Religion [paper]
5. Religion and Postmetaphysical Thinking: A Reply
6. A Symposium on Faith and Knowledge

III. Politics and Religion

7. "The Political": The Rational Meaning of a Questionable Inheritance of Political Theology [audio]
8. The "Good Life" - a "Detestable Phrase": The Significance of the Young Rawls’s Religious Ethics for His Political Theory
9. Rawls’s Political Liberalism
10. Religion in the Public Sphere of "Post-Secular" Society


Some of the essays are already available in English:

Essay 5: In Craig Calhoun, Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (eds.) - "Habermas and Religion" (Polity Press, 2012) pp. 347-390.

Essay 7: In Eduardo Mendieta & Jonathan VanAntwerpen (eds.) - "The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere" (Columbia University Press, 2011) pp. 15-33. 

Essay 8: In "European Journal of Philosophy" vol. 18 no. 3 (2010) pp. 443-453. 

Essay 9: In James Gordon Finlayson & Fabian Freyenhagen (eds.) - "Habermas and Rawls: Disputing the Political" (Routledge, 2011), pp. 283-304.

Essay 10: In Jürgen Habermas - "Europe: The Faltering Project" (Polity Press, 2009), pp. 59-77.


Excerpts from the "preface":

"The collection of essays published in 1988 under the same title as the present collection dealt with the self-confirmation of philosophical thinking. This remains the theme of the present collection."

"Hume and Kant mark the end of metaphysics. Philosophy no longer insists on its Platonic route to salvation through contemplation of an all-encompassing cosmic unity, so that it no longer competes in this regard with religious worldviews. The nominalist revolution paves the way for liberating philosophy from the embrace of religion; it now claims to ground morality and law, and the normative content of modernity in general, in reason alone. On the other hand, the critique of a false scientistic self-understanding of philosophy can highlight the fact that it cannot be reduced to science. In contrast to the objectifying sciences, philosophy still shares with religious and metaphysical "worldviews"" the self-reflexive attitude in which it processes mundane knowledge. It is not directly involved in increasing our knowledge of the world but asks instead what the growing body of empirical knowledge, the knowledge we acquire through interactions with the world, means for us. Instead of being reduced to the role of an auxiliary of cognitive science, for example, philosophy should continue to pursue its task of articulating a justified understanding of ourselves and the world in the light of the best available scientific evidence.

There is no reason to question the secular character of postmetaphysical thinking. (....) For philosophy, "linguistification" [of the sacred] can only mean discovering the still vital semantic potentials in religious traditions and translating them into a general language that is accessible beyond the boundaries of particular religious communities - and thereby introducing them into the discursive play of public reasons."


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Karl-Otto Apel Dies at 95

The German philosopher Karl-Otto Apel died on May 15, 2017. He was 95.

Obituaries:

Detlef Horster - "Bestreiten heißt anerkennen" (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Uwe Justus Wenzel - "Die Vernunft arbeitet in der Sprache" (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

Jochen Hörisch - "Äußerste Ernsthaftigkeit, das war sein Programm" (Deutsclandsfunk)

Markus Schwering - "Der Letztbegründer" (Frankfurter Rundschau)

Christian Geyer - "Ein liebenswürdiger Argumentierer" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

Thomas Assheuer - "Leidenschaft der Sprache" (Die Zeit)

Rainer Forst - "Goethe-Universität trauert um Karl-Otto Apel" (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier offers his condolences to the widow of Karl-Otto Apel

Alexander Riebel - "Zu universal" (Die Tagespost)

Edmund Arens - "Karl-Otto Apel. Ein Nachruf" (Feinschwarz.net)


Sunday, May 07, 2017

Habermas' Deliberative Multiculturalism

An interesting PhD Thesis by Jonas Jakobsen (The Arctic University of Norway):

"The Claims of Freedom: Habermas' Deliberative Multiculturalism and the Right to Free Speech" (2017)

Abstract

"The thesis analyzes and discusses Jürgen Habermas’ political philosophy, focusing on his theories of multiculturalism and deliberative democracy. This implies an assesment of strengths and weaknesses in Habermas' theory, and an attempt to overcome the weaknesses through some revisions and reinterpretations. More specifically, I apply Habermas' framework to a particular question to which he himself has not paid systematic attention, namely how we should justify and use free speech in culturally diverse democracies. The first part of this question (how to justify free speech) pertains to how we should justify constitutional free speech as political philosophers. Here, I advocate robust free speech guarantees, based on a reading of Habermas' normative theory of (reflexive, political, and private) freedom. I argue that legal regulations of hate speech (i.e. racist speech) may be legitimate, but not regulations of blasphemy and religious offense. The second part (how to use free speech) pertains to the citizens’ use of free speech in culturally diverse contexts, and thus transcends the focus on mere legality. Here, I argue that the same concern with freedom that justifies free speech as a constitutional right also limits free speech - in a pragmatic and moral sense. The pragmatic sense refers to how hate speech and misrecognition harm the social preconditions for freedom, in particular the freedom of members of weak or marginalized groups. The moral sense in which freedom limits freedom refers to norms of equal recognition that guide (or should guide) public deliberation between persons who respect each other as free and equal. Even though the imperative of equal recognition does not require us to recognize others' cultural identities or respect their religious feelings as such, it does require us to take their cultural attachments into account when interacting - and deliberating - with them."


Saturday, May 06, 2017

New book by Habermas: "Philosophical Introductions"




Forthcoming book in English by Jürgen Habermas:

"Philosophical Introductions: Five Approaches to Communicative Reason"
(Polity Press, September 2017; 200 pages)







Description:

On the occasion of Habermas’s 80th birthday, the German publisher Suhrkamp brought out five volumes of Habermas’s work - "Philosophische Texte" - that spanned the full range his philosophical work, from the theory of rationality to the critique of metaphysics. For each of these volumes, Habermas wrote an introduction that crystallized, in a remarkably clear and succinct way, his thinking on the key philosophical issues that have preoccupied him throughout his long career. 

In the five chapters that make up this volume, Habermas discusses the concept of communicative action and the grounding of the social sciences in the theory of language; the relationship between rationality and the theory of language; discourse ethics; political theory and problems of democracy and legitimacy; the critique of reason and the challenge posed by religion in a secular age. 

The book will also be publlshed in a French translation by Gallimard.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Habermas on the French election

In "Die Zeit" (April 20, 2017), an interview with Jürgen Habermas on the presidential election in France:

"Eine Umgruppierung der Kräfte ist überfällig"

Excerpt:

ZEIT: Gibt es Hoffnungsschimmer aus der Kultur und der geistigen Tradition dieser großen Nation?

JH: Aus dem schwülen und zerflatternden Defätismus von Michel Houllebecqs Roman Unterwerfung kann man wohl kaum Trost schöpfen. Ebenso wenig aus dem makabren Schauspiel von Intellektuellen, die auf ihrer Wanderung von links nach rechts den Kompass verloren haben. Frankreich hat dem modernen Europa mit den Meistern der Aufklärung, den philosophes von Voltaire bis Rousseau, nicht nur großartige intellektuelle Gestalten beschert. Ihre Texte haben eine unabhängige und selbstkritische Denkungsart hervorgebracht, die damals auch Kant, unseren bedeutendsten und politisch unbeirrbarsten Philosophen, von Grund auf geprägt hat. Dieser leidenschaftliche, intransigente, für Moden unanfällige Geist hat sich gerade in Frankreich bis in meine Generation erhalten – und zwar, wenn ich an Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Derrida oder Michel Foucault denke, gerade bei denen, die die Dialektik der Aufklärung durchdacht haben, ohne deren Geist zu verraten. Diese öffentlichen Stimmen fehlen heute. Aber ich bin sicher, dass die inspirierten Jüngeren dabei sind, ihre Chance zu ergreifen.

Also published in "Le Monde" (April, 20, 2017), entitled "Une rupture dans l’histoire de la République".

See also Jürgen Habermas's talk on "Which Future for Europe?" (Berlin, March 16, 2017):
* Transcript
* Video

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Scheuerman on Habermas and the Fate of Democracy

In "Boston Review" (April 12, 2017), Professor William E. Scheuerman reviews Stefan Müller-Doohm's biography of Jürgen Habermas (Polity Press, 2016):

Habermas and the Fate of Democracy

Excerpts

"During the last thirty years or so, as Habermas has moved from being a Marxist and left-socialist to a social democrat, he has constructively engaged with the ideas of left-liberal American thinkers such as Ronald Dworkin and John Rawls. He now speaks of the need to tame or civilize capitalism but no longer toys with the prospect of a basically different economic order. The shift has been widely noted by more radical critics. Once fashionable on the left, Habermas’s name is now sometimes met with skepticism by a younger generation for whom the recent global economic crisis underscores the need for a fundamental attack on capitalism."

"Habermas’s life-long interest in the nexus between democracy and capitalism, however, remains. [......] Against those on both left and right who seek what he views as a retrograde rolling back of globalization, Habermas wants political decision-making to be scaled up to our globalizing economy. Democracy and the welfare state not only need to catch up to globalization if they are to survive, but can only do so when reconstituted in new and more inclusionary ways beyond the nation state. He considers it a mistake to try to shore up the nation state with outdated ideas of political identity based on common ethnicity or far-reaching cultural or linguistic sameness, and he attacks nationalists and populists for doing so." (.....)

"He chides his friends on the social democratic left for pursuing economic policies barely distinguishable from those of the political right. The anti-EU backlash can be attributed precisely to that failure to recalibrate political and economic processes that has so vexed him since the 1990s, a failure exacerbated by mainstream politicians who allow populists to pose disingenuously as best able to provide economic security to voters suffering globalization’s worst consequences. In an interview with a political journal last November, Habermas reiterated his longstanding call for left-leaning parties in Europe to join arms and “go on the offensive against social inequality by embarking upon a coordinated and cross-border taming of unregulated markets.” Though sometimes vague on details, Habermas believes that only new transnational social and economic measures and regulations can extinguish populist political fires." (......)

"It [.....] seems ironic that our most impressive contemporary theorist of democracy spends so much time attacking elected leaders and other political elites for failing to take on unpopular political tasks. What about grassroots political and social movements, or a European public sphere? Why do we still see so few genuinely cross-border popular or citizen-based initiatives to reform or strengthen the EU? Habermas stylizes himself as a “radical democrat,” and has always emphasized that democracy remains principally a grassroots affair between and among active citizens who argue and debate about competing views. However, he has had relatively little to say about that part of the story." (.....)

Since the 1950s Jürgen Habermas has used his enormous intellectual and political energies to deepen democracy. Müller-Doohm occasionally seems overwhelmed by his subject. He neglects, for instance, the fascinating story of Habermas’s massive global dispersion—how his ideas have been taken up and creatively reworked by admirers and disciples. Müller-Doohm’s broad sympathies for Habermas also make him more cautious about expressing criticism. Still, he does a service in methodically outlining Habermas’s theoretical trajectory, highlighting its strengths as well as ambiguities and dead-ends. And he recounts Habermas’s activities as an outspoken public contrarian, in which Habermas has regularly confronted revanchist voices in Germany reluctant to confront the Nazi past and cramped views of national identity. While it seems unlikely that Habermas will win his battle to extend democracy beyond the nation state anytime soon, he has defined a path of intellectual and political engagement that others with similar commitments will—we can only hope—carry forward."

William E. Scheuerman is Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the Indiana University. Among his books are "Frankfurt School Perspectives on Globalization, Democracy and the Law" (Routledge, 2008) and "The Realist Case for Global Reform" (Polity Press, 2011). 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bernstein and Habermas on Pragmatism

Professor Richard J. Bernstein (The New School for Social Research, New York) held a masteclass in pragmatism at the Catholic Academy in Bavaria, Munich, March 20-22, 2017.

Jürgen Habermas participated in the discussion on March 21, 2017, on the topic "The Resurgence of Pragmatism".

See Alexander Riebel's report in "Die Tagespost" (March 24, 2017):

Wir leben in einer dunklen Zeit"


Richard Bernstein, Mara-Daria Cojocaru, and Jürgen Habermas

Monday, March 20, 2017

Habermas on "Which future for Europe?"

An English translation of Jürgen Habermas's introduction to a discussion with Emmanuel Macron and Sigmar Gabriel on the future of Europe, Berlin, March 16, 2017:

"Why The Necessary Cooperation Does Not Happen"
(Social Europe, March 20, 2017)

A German version here: "Europa neu denken" (Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, April, 2017).

More information on the discussion here.

Excerpts

"European unification has remained an elite project to the present day because the political elites did not dare to involve the general public in an informed debate about alternative future scenarios. National populations will be able to recognize and decide what is in their own respective interest in the long run only when discussion of the momentous alternatives is no longer confined to academic journals – e.g. the alternatives of dismantling the euro or of returning to a currency system with restricted margins of fluctuation, or of opting for closer cooperation after all.

At any rate, other current problems that attract more public attention speak in favor of the need for Europeans to stand and act in common. It is the perception of a worsening international and global political situation that is slowly driving even the member governments of the European Council to their pain threshold and startling them out of their national narrow-mindedness. There is no secret about the crises that, at the very least, necessitate reflection on closer cooperation:
* Europe’s geopolitical situation had already been transformed by the Syrian civil war, the Ukraine crisis, and the gradual retreat of the United States from its role as a force for maintaining global order; but now that the superpower seems to be turning its back on the previously prevailing internationalist school of thought, things have become even more unpredictable for Europe. And these questions of external security have acquired even greater relevance as a result of Trump’s pressure on NATO members to step up their military contributions.
* Furthermore we will have to cope with the terrorist threat in the medium term; and Europe will have to struggle with the pressure of migration for an even longer time. Both developments clearly require Europeans to cooperate more closely.
* Finally, the change of government in the United States is leading to a split in the West not only over global trade and economic policies. Nationalist, racist, anti-Islamic, and anti-Semitic tendencies that have acquired political weight with the program and style of the new US administration are combining with authoritarian developments in Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and other countries to pose an unexpected challenge for the political and cultural self-understanding of the West. Suddenly Europe finds itself thrown back upon its own resources in the role of a defensive custodian of liberal principles (providing support to a majority of the American electorate that has been pushed to the margins).

These crisis tendencies are not the only thing impelling the EU countries to cooperate more closely. One can even understand the obstacles to closer cooperation as just as many reasons for accelerating a shift in European politics. It will become more difficult to effect such a shift the longer the unresolved crises foster right-wing populism and left-wing dissidence as regards Europe. Without an attractive and credible perspective for shaping Europe, authoritarian nationalism in member states such as Hungary and Poland will be strengthened. And unless we take a clear line, the offer of bilateral trade agreements with the US and – in the course of Brexit – with the UK will drive the European countries even farther apart." (......)

"The institutionalization of closer cooperation is what first makes it possible to exert democratic influence on the spontaneous proliferation of global networks in all directions, because politics is the only medium through which we can take deliberate measures to shape the foundations of our social life. Contrary to what the Brexit slogan suggests, we will not regain control over these foundations by retreating into national fortresses. On the contrary, politics must keep pace with the globalization that it set in motion. In view of the systemic constraints of unregulated markets and the increasing functional interdependence of a more and more integrated world society, but also in view of the spectacular options we have created – for example, of a still unmastered digital communication or of new procedures for optimizing the human organism – we must expand the spaces for possible democratic will-formation, for political action, and for legal regulation beyond national borders."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Habermas-Macron-Gabriel on "Which future for Europe?" (video)

Discussion on "Which future for Europe?" at the The Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, on March 16, 2017.
* Professor Jürgen Habermas, Germany
* Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, France 
* Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, Germany





See an English translation of Jürgen Habermas's introduction here.

The original German version: here.

Reports on the event:

Sebastian Fischer – ”Ein ängstlicher Europäer hat schon verloren
(Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Maria Exner - ”Vertraut mir einfach
(Die Zeit)

Derek Scally - "Habermas warns on EU integration without renewed German push"
(Irish Times)

Hubertus Volmer – ”Macron will Frankreich glaubwürdig machen
(n-tv)

Albrecht Meier – ”Gelingt dem Pro-Europäer Macron ein Erfolg wie Rutte?
(Der Tagesspiegel)

Marina Kormbaki - ”Gabriel trifft Macron: Gemeinsam mehr investieren
(Neue Presse)

Torsten Krauel - ”Zukunftsvision für Europa, in der Deutschland mehr zahlt
(Die Welt)



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Karl-Otto Apel turns 95 today

In "Frankfurter Rundschau" (March 15, 2017), Michael Hesse congratulates Karl-Otto Apel on his 95th birthday:

"Du existierst"

Excerpts

"Es ist ein schöner Frühlingstag und der Philosoph kommt ins Erzählen. Er gräbt tief in seinen Erinnerungen, schärft seine Begriffe und präsentiert manche Anekdote. Karl-Otto Apel ist einer der ganz großen deutschen Nachkriegsphilosophen. Viele meinen, er sei neben Jürgen Habermas der bedeutendste. Wer der wirklich Größte und Beste ist, ist auch unter Philosophen eine heikle Frage. Und einig ist man nur darin, dass hier völlige Uneinigkeit herrscht. Fraglos hingegen ist, dass Apel der deutschen Philosophie einen Hauch von Übersee verpasst hat. Denn er war einer der ersten, welche die Wahrheit nicht mehr nur in knöchernen Begriffssystemen suchte, sondern sie in der lebendigen Sprache zu finden meinte. Für deutsche Denker ein klassischer Umsturzversuch. Sprachphilosophische Wende nannte man den neuen Ansatz – oder linguistic turn, wie es wohl als einer der ersten der US-Philosoph Richard Rorty tat.

Daraus erwuchs bei Apel etwas, was unter „transzendentaler Sprachpragmatik“ Eingang in die Welt der Denker fand. „Transformation der Philosophie“ lautete der Titel seiner durchschlagenden Schrift, in der er sein Denken vorstellte. Um der Philosophie einen Sinn zu geben, musste sie erst überführt werden aus den klassischen Denksystemen in eine neue, offene Welt.

Aber auch in dieser, das war und blieb Apels feste Überzeugung, gibt es einen archimedischen Punkt. Ein Letztes, hinter das wir nicht gehen können, das uns aber die Sicherheit für die Welt des Wandels und die wechselnden Werte gibt. Wir finden es, wenn wir auf die Voraussetzungen unseres Denkens und Handelns blicken. Etwa wenn einer sagt: „Du existierst nicht“ oder „Ich plädiere für Streit als Ziel der Diskurse“ geraten sie in Selbstwidersprüche, da sie den „Nicht-Existierenden“ als Existierenden ansprechen und durch das Plädoyer ja Einigkeit erstreben. Wenn es aber solche unbestreibaren Gründe gibt, lassen sich auch Prinzipien formulieren, aus denen andere Wahrheiten folgen. Das war ein echter Clou von Apel. Dieses Letzte bewahrt uns davor, dass wir offenkundigen Unsinn reden."

(.....)

"1950 lernte er einen Mann aus Gummersbach kennen. „Damals habe ich promoviert und Jürgen Habermas kennengelernt.“ Sie wurden Freunde. Sie wollten die Welt verändern, sagt er. „Habermas und ich waren sehr nah beieinander in unserem politischen Denken. Wir wollten beide den Nationalismus überwinden und für Europa und eine weltbürgerliche Ordnung eintreten.“

Sie hatten ähnliche Ansätze und gingen dann doch eigene Wege: „Wir haben uns in der Tat voneinander entfernt“, erklärt Apel. Er war sich mit Habermas einig, dass das heutige Denken post-metaphysisch sein muss. Es gibt kein Zurück mehr in die Zeiten, in denen Hegel seine Systemphilosophie ausbreitete, geschweige denn in die Zeiten, in denen die Denker Gottesbeweise führten. Er entwickelte einen eigenen Ansatz. Seine Philosophie ist getragen von der Sorge um die ethische Grundlage des menschlichen Handelns. Es sollte nicht kulturellen Differenzen zum Opfer fallen, sondern universal gelten. Die ethischen Regeln werden im Diskurs festgelegt. Über Moral lässt sich reden. Menschenrechte taugen nicht zum Relativismus."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gabriel, Macron & Habermas on the future of Europe

On March 16, Germany's Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and Jürgen Habermas will discuss the future of Europe at a meeting at the The Hertie School of Governance, Berlin.

More information here.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Rainer Forst in Copenhagen

On March 3, 2017, Professor Rainer Forst, Goethe University Frankfurt, talks at the University of Copenhagen.

The title of Rainer Forst's lecture is "Justice After Marx."

More information here.

See also two of my previous posts on Rainer Forst's work:

* His latest book in English (together with Wendy Brown): "The Power of Tolerance" (Columbia University Press, 2014).

* "The Right to Justification. Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice" (Columbia University Press, 2011).

Rainer Forst's latest book in German is a collection of essays, titled "Normativität und Macht - Zur Analyse sozialer Rechtfertigungsordnungen" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2015). An excerpt here (pdf).