On the blog "The Immanent Frame" (SSRC's blog on secularism, religion, and the public sphere), Charles Taylor has posted a short portrait of Jürgen Habermas:
"In our time, we can almost fear that the public intellectual is an endangered species. On the one hand, the role can be trivialized by the proliferation of collective petitions for fashionable causes which it is very easy to sign. On the other, in the making of policy the intellectual is often replaced by the expert, master of some narrow field, who is rarely asked to decide on the use to be made of his expertise. In this world, Jürgen Habermas stands out as a shining example of the philosopher-citizen, two roles indissolubly linked in a figure of great depth and integrity. We, in democratic countries and beyond, are all in his debt, and that more than anything else accounts for his unparalleled prominence. He is an inspiration to us all."
A version of the text originally appeared in German in "Süddeutsche Zeitung", June 18, 2009, in honor of Jürgen Habermas’s 80th birthday. See here (and my previous post).