Sunday, January 15, 2023

New book on Habermas' "Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere"


Reading Habermas

Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

by Michael Hofmann

(Lanham: Lexington Books, January 2023)

306 pages






Description

Reading Habermas: Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere dissolves Habermas’s monolithic stylization to precisely access his seminal distinction between the purely political "polis" of antiquity, which excludes the private economy from the "res publica", and the modern public sphere with its rational-critical discourse about commodity exchange and social labor in the political economy. Deconstructing the uniform mold of Structural Transformation’s narrative about a rise and fall of the bourgeois public sphere in modernity also allows to identify and understand the ideology-critical methodologies of Habermas’s theory reconstruction of Kant’s ideal of the liberal public in the context of the French Revolution.

Contents

Preface [Preview]

Introduction [Preview]

1. Structural Transformation’s Normative Theses about a Dissolution of Domination in the Bourgeois Public Sphere

2. Habermas’s Dialectical Use of Ideology Critique to Counterfactually Assert a Moment of Historical Credibility for the Bourgeois Ideal of the Public Sphere

3. Structural Transformation’s Cold War Origins: Habermas’s Defense of Kantian Rationality, Human Rights, and the Enlightenment

4. Participatory Democracy versus Political Manipulation: The Role of Habermas’s “Celebrated Coffee Houses” (Todd Gitlin) in the Modern Public Sphere

5. Understanding Habermas’s Public Sphere Concept by Dissolving its Monolithic Stylization: Structural Transformation’s Interpretation of a Sociological and Political Category with the Norms of Constitutional Theory and Intellectual History

6. Structural Transformation’s Tacit Model Case of the Bourgeois Public Sphere: The French Revolution, Kant’s “Unofficial” Philosophy of History, Condorcet Absolute Rationalism, and Schiller’s Expressive Subjectivism

7. The Achilles’ Heel of Schiller’s Moral Stage and Structural Transformation’s Moral Politics: A Dependency of Smith’s Political Economy and Kant’s Constitutional Law on Mandeville’s Moral Paradox of Bourgeois Society

8. Habermas’s Unexplained Methodology: A Complex “Ideology-Critical Procedure”

9. The Result of Structural Transformation’s Dialectical Use of Schmitt’s “Civil War Topos” and Koselleck’s “Process of Criticism:” A Tension between Developmental History and Ideology-Critical Procedure

Conclusion: Renewing the Human Rights Perspective in the Political Public Sphere


Michael Hofmann is Professor of Communication and Multimedia Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of "Habermas’s Public Sphere: A Critique" (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017). See a preview here.


Friday, January 06, 2023

Call for Papers: "On the Work of Jürgen Habermas"

Res Philosophica invites papers on the work of Jürgen Habermas for the 2023 Res Philosophica Essay Prize. The author of the winning paper will receive a prize of $3,000 and publication in the special issue of the journal on the same topic. Submissions for the prize will be automatically considered for publication in the journal's special issue.

Accepted papers will be published alongside an invited paper by Jürgen Habermas.

Guest editor: William Rehg (Saint Louis University).

Deadline for submission: August 1, 2023.

More info here.


Thursday, January 05, 2023

The philosophical itinerary of Axel Honneth

Paper on Axel Honneth: 

"Glanz und Elend des Sozialen. Axel Honneths philosophischer Weg" [PDF]

by Barbara Carnevali (Paris)

(Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, December 2022)

Abstract: 

This article retraces and discusses the philosophical itinerary of Axel Honneth, from the groundbreaking book "Struggle for Recognition" up to the recent essays "Freedom’s Right" and "The Idea of Socialism". In the first section, I examine Honneth’s programmatic concept of social pathology in relation to Ernst Cassirer’s idea of the secularisation of theodicy (i. e. the attribution of responsibility for human suffering to society) and to the enlightenment legacy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the second section, after assessing Honneth’s position in the tradition of critical theory, I analyse his philosophical views. I identify two different theoretical frameworks in Honneth’s work: on the one hand, the theory of the struggle for recognition; on the other hand, the recent theory of social freedom. While the first is grounded in a formal and allegedly universal anthropology, the second draws on the Hegelian doctrine of the ethical life and develops a historicist and internalist model of reconstructive social criticism. Finally, in the third section, I critically address the “divinisation of the social” entailed in Honneth’s project of social pathologies’ critique, and argue that Honneth’s trust in the normative power of intersubjectivity might be excessive.


Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Recollections of Richard Bernstein

An interesting article about Richard Bernstein (1932-2022) and his final class on Hannah Arendt:

"A Philosophy Professor’s Final Class" by Jordi Graupera

(The New Yorker, January 3, 2023)

This past spring, Richard Bernstein investigated the questions he’d been asking his whole career - about right, wrong, and what we owe one another - one last time.



Sunday, January 01, 2023

Habermas' dialogue with Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

The dialogue between Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and Jürgen Habermas:

"Vorpolitische moralische Grundlagen eines freiheitlichen Staates" (2004)

[Zur debatte, 1/2004, free access]

Habermas: 

"I assume that the constitution of the liberal state can satisfy its need from legitimation in a modest way by drawing on the cognitive resources of a set of arguments that are independent of religious or metaphysical traditions." (....) "...the proceduralist conception of Kantian inspiration insists on an autonomous grounding of constitutional principles that claims to be rationally acceptable to all citizens."

The liberal state is not incapable of "reproducing the motivations on which it depends from its own secular resources."

"(....) the secular character of the constitutional state does not exhibit any internal weakness inherent in the political system as such that jeopardizes its ability to stabilize itself in a cognitive or motivational sense. This does not exclude external reasons. An uncontrolled modernization of society as a whole could certainly corrode democratic bonds and undermine the form of solidarity on which the democratic state depends even though it cannot enforce it. (....) Evidence of such a corrosion of civic solidarity can be found in the larger context of the politically uncontrolled dynamics of the global economy and global society."

(English translation in Jürgen Habermas, Between Naturalism and Religion (Polity, 2008), pp. 101-113.



Saturday, December 31, 2022

In mourning for the philosopher Dieter Henrich

 


(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31-12-2022)

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Arte.tv - A portrait of Jürgen Habermas

A portrait of Jürgen Habermas:

Arte.tv: "Philosopher and European" (video, 53 minutes)

with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Axel Honneth, Isabelle Aubert, Joschka Fischer, Rahel Jaeggi, Gérard Raulet, Thomas M. Schmidt et al.

Director: Christian Bettges. 



Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Manfred Frank on Dieter Henrich

Manfred Frank on Dieter Henrich (1927-2022) in "Die Zeit" (December 22, 2022): 

"Ein helles Licht ist erloschen". 

Excerpts:

"Henrich zeigte, dass alle Theorien, die das Subjekt für ein Prinzip der Philosophie hielten, von Descartes, dem "Vater der modernen Philosophie", bis in große Teile der europäischen Vorkriegsphilosophie hinein, einen kleinen, aber bedeutsamen Fehler aufwiesen: Subjekte sind durch Selbstbewusstsein ausgezeichnet, und das kann nicht als "Reflexion" verstanden werden, also nicht als Ergebnis eines bewusst-machenden Sich-auf-sich-selbst-Zurückbeugens des "Ichs". Der bewusstmachende Akt musste mit sich (der Reflexion zuvor) schon bekannt sein. Diese Bekanntschaft wird von der "Reflexionstheorie" nicht erklärt, sondern erschlichen.

Es bedurfte mithin einer Neujustierung des zugrundeliegenden Modells, denn die Existenz von Selbstbewusstsein stand ja nicht in Zweifel. Nicht in einer Selbst-vergegen - ständ lichung, sondern in einer "unmittelbaren", das heißt, durch kein zweites Glied vermittelten Kenntnis besteht es. Es war also auch nicht als eine hochstufig kognitive Leistung zu beschreiben, nicht als ein Wissen von sich, wie bei Descartes." (....)

Henrich hat weniger mit eigenen Theorien brilliert als durch sein Talent, die Texte der Klassiker so zu lesen, dass zuvor übersehene Einsichten aus ihnen hervorleuchteten. Sein Ehrgeiz war, die Grundeinsicht eines Autors zu erschließen und sie gegen die unzureichende Weise abzuheben, mit der dieser Autor sie begründet hat. So haben wir auch einen ziemlich neuen und ungleich komplexeren, aber auch spannenderen und verständlicheren Kant kennengelernt. Henrich nannte sein Verfahren die "argumentierende Rekonstruktion". (....)

"Unvergessen ist seine Auseinandersetzung mit Tugendhat und Habermas. Beiden, die auf vergleichbare Weise für einen Vorrang der gesellschaftlich-sprachlichen Einbettung von Subjekten vor ihrem angeblich solitären Selbstbewusstsein plädieren, hat er in bedeutenden Auseinandersetzungen kraftvoll widersprochen. Auch die Vorordnung der Intersubjektivität vor der Subjektivität führt in die Zirkel der Reflexionstheorie. Das hatten schon Fichte und Sartre bemerkt." (....)

"Eine wesentliche Kindheitserfahrung war, wie er in seiner philosophischen Autobiographie erzählt, ein schwerer chirurgischer Eingriff am Kopf, den er als Zweijähriger erleben musste. Die Dankbarkeit, die er den nachsorgenden Eltern gegenüber empfand, sei Auslöser seines Gedankens geworden, dass die Subjektivität nicht aus sich selbst sei, dass sie sich einem "unverfüglichen Grund" verdanke. Ein weiteres Argument gegen Heideggers, wie er sagte, "ingeniöse, aber grund-verkehrte" Ansicht, neuzeitliches Denken bestehe in einer "Selbstermächtigung der Subjektivität"."


Alessandro Pinzani: Habermas and Capitalism

New essay by Alessandro Pinzani:

"Habermas and Capitalism: An Historic Overview" [PDF]

(Cadernos de Filosofia Alemã, vol. 27, no. 2 (2022), pp. 51-68)


AbstractThe article reconstructs Habermas’ view of capitalism from the 1970s to his most recent writings. It takes its starting point from Wolfgang Streeck’s claim that Habermas has failed to acknowledge that the real enemy of democracy is not bureaucracy but capitalism and that, therefore, he underestimates the role of capitalism in shaping the global order. It first returns to the diagnoses of late capitalism that Habermas developed in the 1970s and early 1980s and then moves on to some of his later writings. This will reveal that there was indeed a shift of emphasis from a critique of capitalism to a critique of technocracy, but not because of Habermas’ unawareness of the role of capitalism in shaping reality. Rather, he has come to objectify capitalism while looking for legal and political tools for reining it in instead of looking for possible alternatives to it.

Alessandro Pinzani is a professor of ethics and political philosophy at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil. He is the author of "Jürgen Habermas" (München: C.H. Beck, 2007), and (together with Walquiria Leão Rego) "Money, Autonomy and Citizenship. The Experience of the Brazilian Bolsa Família" (Basel: Springer, 2019).


Friday, December 16, 2022

Karl-Otto Apel's 100th birthday celebration

Video:

Celebrating Karl-Otto Apel’s 100th birthday (1922-2022) [132 minutes]

Zoom seminar, December 16, 2022, organized by Amos Nascimento, University of Washington, Tacoma, and Eduardo Mendieta, Pennsylvania State University. (The first part of Dorothea Apel's presentation is missing in the video.)

Participants: Dorothea Apel (Wiesbaden), Amos Nascimento (Tacoma), Michael Forman (Tacoma), Adela Cortina (Valencia), Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (Frankfurt), Matthias Kettner (Witten),  Alessandro Pinzani (Florianópolis), Marianna Papastephanou (Nicosia), René von Schomberg (Aachen), Juan Nicolás (Granada), Jorge Zúñiga (Mexico City), Hans Schelkshorn (Vienna), Linda Lovelli (Genova), Juan Carlos Siurana (Valencia) et al. 


See also:

* New book: "Karl-Otto Apel. Auf der Suche nach dem letzten Grund"

* New essays in honor of Karl-Otto Apel (Topologik, 2020)





Thursday, December 15, 2022

New essay by Habermas on diachronic justice

In a new essay in honor of Jan Philipp Reemtsma, Jürgen Habermas deals with "diachronic justice":

"Urteilt, auf dass Ihr beurteilt werden könnt", in Susanne Fischer, Gerd Hankel & Wolfgang Knöbl (eds.), Die Gegenwart der Gewalt und die Macht der Aufklärung. Festschrift für Jan Philipp Reemtsma, Band 1 (Springe: zu Klampen Verlag, 2022), pp. 77-91.

An earlier version of part two of the essay has been published in Polish: “W kwestii sprawiedliwości diachronicznej”, Folia Philosophica. Ethica-Aesthetica-Practica vol. 29, 2017 (The University of Łódź), pp. 11-20 [Open access]. 



Saturday, December 10, 2022

Revising Habermas’s colonisation thesis

Forthcoming in "European Journal of Social Theory":

* Regina Kreide - "Social critique and transformation: Revising Habermas’s colonisation thesis" [Open access]

Abstract

What is critical theory – and what is it not? This essay attempts a new answer to this old question and examines which normative convictions immanent to social reality can be used to describe, analyse and criticise contemporary, global forms of domination that form blockades of social and political participation. The analysis proceeds in a double step, referring both to the critique of society and to the critique of theory that describes society. The basis of this parallel swing is an analysis in which the author makes revisions to Jürgen Habermas’s colonisation thesis and uses the example of housing to show how these revisions which refer to the global perspective, the demarcation between system and lifeworld, the language of critique and, finally, the theoretical mode of an inherent dialectical critique make possible an analysis of the financial and economic sectors as well as everyday interactions. Reading Habermas more dialectically than he probably would himself also allows the identification of potentials for transforming relations of oppression.

Regina Kreide is Professor of Political Theory at the Justus Liebig University Gießen. She is the author of "Die verdrängte Demokratie" (Nomos, 2016), and co-editor of "The Habermas Handbook" (Columbia University Press, 2017). Forthcoming: "Globale Gerechtigkeit?" (Karl Alber, 2023)