Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Habermas on Martin Seel

 A new essay by Jürgen Habermas:

"Sich-bestimmen-Lassen. Zum philosophischen Grundgedanken von Martin Seel"

(Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, vol. 68, no. 2 (2023), pp. 68-87).

The essay was written in the spring of 2020.


With a philosopher like Martin Seel, reflecting this closely on the literary form in which to present his ideas, it is not surprising that philosophy of language makes for a focus of interest. Since my own interest also points in this direction, I will start with Seel’s groundbreaking essay on literal and figurative speech (I). I will then deal with the concept of "letting oneself be determined" as the pivotal point of Martin Seel’s philosophy (II). The resulting pragmatist understanding of sociocultural forms of life has important consequences for the way in which Seel detranscendentalizes Kant’s epistemology (III). Finally, I will critically examine the conception of a practical philosophy developing aesthetics and morality out of the fundamental question of ethics (IV). In this conception, a self-image of philosophy oriented towards the unity of the true, the good and the beautiful. In my opinion, however, Martin Seel neglects history as a dimension in which reason leaves its traces (V).

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Weithman on stability in a Rawlsian theory of liberal democracy

A new paper by Paul Weithman (University of Notre Dame):

"Stability and Equilibrium in Political Liberalism" [read access]

(forthcoming in "Philosophical Studies")

Thanks to Paul Weithman for sharing!

See also: 

* Samuel Freeman - "Reasonable political conceptions and the well-ordered liberal society", in Paul Weithman (ed.),  Rawls's Theory of Justice at 50 (Cambridge University Press, 2023). [+ my blog post].

* Paul Weithman, Why Political Liberalism? On John Rawls's Political Turn (Oxford University Press, 2011). [Preview]

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Seyla Benhabib: Kantian Cosmopolitanism and its Critics

Lecture by Seyla Benhabib at the University of Vienna, October 5, 2023:

Kantian Cosmopolitanism and its Critics [Video]

* Welcome & introduction 

* Lecture 09:20 - 1:02:00

* Discussion: 1:02:00 - 1:44:00 (moderator: George Karamanolis)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Interview with Habermas: "Europe's Mistake"

A new interview with Jürgen Habermas on Ukraine, Europe and the new geopolitical constellation:

"Europe's Mistake" (Granta, no. 165, 2023). [Open access]

The interview was conducted by Thomas Meaney on 23 July 2023.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Habermas on the Hamas massacre, Israel’s response, and anti-Semitic sentiments [Updated]

Nicole Deitelhoff, Rainer Forst, Klaus Günther & Jürgen Habermas on the Hamas massacre, Israel’s response and anti-Semitic sentiments: 

"Principles of solidarity. A statement" (13-11-2023)

"The current situation created by Hamas‘ extreme atrocity and Israel’s response to it has led to a cascade of moral and political statements and protests. We believe that amidst all the conflicting views being expressed, there are some principles that should not be disputed. They are the basis of a rightly understood solidarity with Israel and Jews in Germany.

The Hamas massacre with the declared intention of eliminating Jewish life in general has prompted Israel to strike back. How this retaliation, which is justified in principle, is carried out is the subject of controversial debate; principles of proportionality, the prevention of civilian casualties and the waging of a war with the prospect of future peace must be the guiding principles. Despite all the concern for the fate of the Palestinian population, however, the standards of judgement slip completely when genocidal intentions are attributed to Israel’s actions.

In particular, Israel’s actions in no way justify anti-Semitic reactions, especially not in Germany. It is intolerable that Jews in Germany are once again exposed to threats to life and limb and have to fear physical violence on the streets. The democratic ethos of the Federal Republic of Germany, which is orientated towards the obligation to respect human dignity, is linked to a political culture for which Jewish life and Israel’s right to exist are central elements worthy of special protection in light of the mass crimes of the Nazi era. The commitment to this is fundamental to our political life. The elementary rights to freedom and physical integrity as well as to protection from racist defamation are indivisible and apply equally to all. All those in our country who have cultivated anti-Semitic sentiments and convictions behind all kinds of pretexts and now see a welcome opportunity to express them uninhibitedly must also abide by this."


See also Nicole Deitelhoff's comments on X/Twitter.

+ podcast from “Parallax Views” with A. Dirk Moses (City University of New York) on the Gaza War – with his comments on the statement by Nicole Deiteldorf et al. (32:35 - 38:36)

Adam Tooze, Samuel Moyn, Amia Srinivasan, Nancy Fraser et al. - "The principle of human dignity must apply to all people" (The Guardian, online 22-11-2023). Among the signatories are also Dirk Moses, Peter Verovšek, Robin Celikates, Frederick Neuhouser, Jay Bernstein, and Katrin Flikschuh.

Responses & reports in the press:

* Süddeutsche Zeitung (Jens-Christian Rabe), 15-11-2023 

* Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Christian Geyer), online 15-11-2023 

* Frankfurter Rundschau (Michael Hesse), online 15-11-2023 

* Die Zeit, online 14-11-2023.

* Der Spiegel, online 14-11-2023.

* Berliner Zeitung (Timo Feldhaus), online 14-11-2023 

* Die Welt, online 14-11-2023.

* Tagesspiegel (Gerrit Bartels), 14-11-2023.

* La Repubblica (Tonia Mastrobuoni), 15-11-2023.

* Il Manifesto (Roberto De Monticelli), online 19-11-2023,

* The Guardian (Philip Oltermann), online 22-11-2023,

* Spiegel Online (Tobias Rapp), online 23-11-2023.

* Tagesspiegel (Gerrit Bartels), 24-11-2023.

* Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Miguel de la Riva), 25-11-2023.

Frankfurter Rundschau (Michael Hesse), 25-11-2023.

* Berliner Zeitung (Paolo Becchi), online 26-11-2023

Die Welt (Andreas Rosenfelder), 27-11-2023.

* Nordwest-Zeitung (Stefan Müller-Doohm), 27-11-2023

Der Standard (Ronald Pohl), 28-11-2023.

* Der Spiegel Online (Hedwig Richter), 28-11-2023.

* Der Spiegel (Omri Boehm), 02-12-2023.

* Boston Review (Peter E. Gordon), 04-12-2023.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

New book: The Archives of Critical Theory

The Archives of Critical Theory

ed. by Isabelle Aubert & Marcos Nobre

(Springer Verlag, 2023)

282 pages


On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, in 1923, this book aims at shedding light on the archives of some of the key thinkers of Critical Theory of Society, also well known as “Frankfurt School”. To pay homage to this current of thought, this contributed volume aims to make the archives speak for themselves, to show the public the quantity of unpublished material still existing by the authors of the Critical Theory which are now in funds in different parts of the world (in Germany, in Italy, or in the United States), and to show that Critical Theory remains alive 100 years after its inception.

The volume starts by presenting the archives of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the thinkers who inspired Critical Theory, and the archives of the Institute for Social Research itself. Then it dedicates separate sections to the archives of Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Friedrich Pollock, Herbert Marcuse, Leo Löwenthal and Jürgen Habermas. The book is composed of chapters written by researchers and editors who worked in the different fonds, as well as chapters written by or interviews with researchers who were or are in charge of some of the archives, or who are especially familiar with the material.

Contents [preview]

Introduction: Researching the Archives of Critical Theory [preview] - Isabelle Aubert & Marcos Nobre 

Publishing Marx-Engels-Nachlass: Archive, Editions, and Theoretical Implications [preview] - Olavo Ximenes 

Into the Walter Benjamin Archive: An Interview with Ursula Marx - Fernando Bee

Benjamin Anarchivist - Antonin Wiser 

The Attitude of the German People: The Institute of Social Research Archive as Contemporary History - Dirk Braunstein & Maischa Gelhard 

The Role of Empirical Research in Theodor W. Adorno’s Thought: A Personal Experience at the Archive of the Institute for Social Research - Adriano Januário

Working on Cultural Memory: The Literary Estate of Max Horkheimer in the Frankfurt University Library - Gunzelin Schmid Noerr

The Material Part of Theory: The IfS Exile in Geneva and the Correspondence between Max Horkheimer & Juliette Favez - Olivier Voirol

Not Just Director, Methodologist, or Partner: A Brief History of the Reception of Horkheimer’s Work - Paulo Yamawake 

Adorno and the Archiving of the Ephemeral: Remarks on His Literary Estate - Michael Schwarz 

Adorno and the Post-war Artistic Debates: A Perspective Through the Archives - Raquel Patriota & Ricardo Lira da Silva 

T.W. Adorno, H. Becker, and the Challenges of Education in an “Administered World” (1955–1969): Unpublished Radio Conversations from the Theodor W. Adorno Archive - Aurélia Peyrical 

Symbiosis and Dispersion: The Friedrich Pollock Papers - Philipp Lenhard 

Leo Löwenthal and Herbert Marcuse: Analysis of the Enemy and Volumes from the Marcuse Archive - Peter-Erwin Jansen & Inka Engel 

Archive Beyond Files: A Brief Note on a Personal Experience in the Marcuse Archive - Inara Luisa Marin 

Critical Theory and Primary Source Research: Subjective Reflections on Working in the Herbert Marcuse and Max Horkheimer Archives - John Abromeit 

The Habermas Papers: An Interview with Roman Yos [preview] - Pedro Zan & Rafael Palazi 

Two Letters Between Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel, Dated 1965: Comments on the Exchange - Roman Yos 

Letter from Jürgen Habermas to Herbert Marcuse, July 10, 1978: Translation of the Letter and Comment - Isabelle Aubert 

Appendix: Practical Information on the Archives [pdf]

Friday, October 13, 2023

A New Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere and Deliberative Politics

A New Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere and Deliberative Politics

by Jürgen Habermas

(Polity, 2023)

128 pages


1. Reflections and Conjectures on a New Structural Transformation of the Political Public Sphere

Also published in Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 39, no. 4 (2022), pp. 145-171. [Open access]

2. Deliberative Democracy. An Interview

Originally published as “Interview with Jürgen Habermas” in André Bächtiger, John S. Dryzek, Jane Mansbridge & Mark E. Warren (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2018) pp. 871-882.

3. What is Meant by ‘Deliberative Democracy’? Objections and Misunderstandings

Section 2 and 3 reuses text from Habermas’s "Foreword", in Emilie Prattico (ed.), Habermas and the Crisis of Democracy. Interviews with Leading Thinkers (London: Routledge, 2022), pp. xiii-xix. [Preview here]

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Martin Jay in conversation with Rahel Jaeggi (video)

From the international conference "Futuring Critical Theory" in Frankfurt am Main, September 13-15, 2023:

"100 Years of Critical Theory – 100 Years of Solitude?" (Video, 1:30:00)

Martin Jay in conversation with Rahel Jaeggi

Chair: Martin Saar

More videos from the conference here.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Harvard Colloquium: Critical Theory at 100

Harvard Colloquium for Intellectual History:

"Flaschenpost: Critical Theory at 100 – The European and American Reception, 1923-2023"

October 6-7, 2023, at Harvard University.

Day 1: October 6

* Introduction – Peter E. Gordon & Maxim Pensky

* At Time of Contestation ­– Axel Honneth

* Adorno's Ways of Criticism – James Gordon Finlayson

* The Standpoint of Emancipation – Rahel Jaeggi

* Disastrous Times: Reactualizing Horkheimer's Vision of Critical Theory – Maeve Cooke

* The Living I and the Good Animal: Adorno and Hegel – Karen Ng

* The Greening of Critical Theory – Espen Hammer

* Normality proper to this time is sickness – Fabian Freyenhagen

* Patriarchal Capitalism: Critical Theory from Adorno to Ecofeminism – Jay Bernstein

* History, Ontology, Nature – Martin Saar

Day 2: October 7

* The History of the Frankfurt School in Expanded Fields – Martin Jay

* We’re not Special. Congratulations! – Christopher Zurn

* The Return of Ideology Critique – Cristina Lafont

* The Rational Critique of Social Unreason: On Critical Theory in the Frankfurt Tradition – Rainer Forst

* Radical Tradition: A Contradiction in Terms? – Susan Buck-Morss

* Critical Theory and Intersectionality: Rethinking the Critique of Power with Black Feminism – Amy Allen

* Critical Theory and Anti: Racist Struggles: A Missed Encounter – Robin Celikates

* Critical Theory and/or/as Marxism? – Nancy Fraser

* Concluding Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Out now in English: Habermas' "Also a History of Philosophy", volume 1

Also a History of Philosophy 

Volume 1: The Project of a Genealogy of Postmetaphysical Thinking

by Jürgen Habermas

(Polity, 2023)

448 pages

This is the first of the three volumes of Jürgen Habermas' book on the history of philosophy - "Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie" (Suhrkamp, 2019). Translated by Ciaran Cronin.

Preface [preview]

Part I. On the Question of a Genealogy of Postmetaphysical Thinking

1. Crisis Scenarios and Narratives of Decline in Major Twentieth-Century Philosophical Theories

2. Religion as a "Contemporary" Formation of Objective Mind?

3. The Occidental Path of Development and the Claim to Universality of Postmetaphysical Thinking

4. Basic Assumptions of the Theory of Society and Programmatic Outlook

Part II. The Sacred Roots of the Axial Age Traditions

1. Cognitive Breakthrough and Preservation of the Sacred Core

2. Myth and Ritual Practices

3. The Meaning of the Sacred

4. The Path to the Axial Age Transformation of Religious Consciousness

Part III. A Provisional Comparison of the Axial Age World Views

1. The Moralization of the Sacred and the Break with Mythical Thought

2. The Repudiation of "Paganism" by Jewish Monotheism

3. The Buddha’s Teaching and Practice

4. Confucianism and Taoism

5. From the Greek "Natural Philosophers" to Socrates

6. Plato’s Theory of Ideas – in Comparison

First Intermediate Reflection: The Conceptual Trajectories of the Axial Age

See my bibliography on Jürgen Habermas' book (Reviews, articles, book chapters and books in German, English, French, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish).

The table of contents of volume 2 og 3 here

Saturday, August 12, 2023

New book: Zur Diagnose demokratischer Regression

Zur Diagnose demokratischer Regression

Ed. by Peter Niesen

[Leviathan Sonderband 40]

(Nomos, August 2023)

338 pages


Western democracies are increasingly being challenged by authoritarian populism. The assumption that democratic learning experiences are irreversible has become questionable. Can we identify a stable trend towards "democratic regression" (Schäfer/Zürn)? What are the criteria on which such a diagnosis can be based, and what are the possible causes of such developments? What does the concept of regression add to the ubiquitous talk of the decline of democracy? 

This special issue provides the first comprehensive discussion of the empirical diagnoses, analytical determinations and normative uses of the phenomenon and concept of democratic regression


* Einleitung

1. Zur Diagnose demokratischer Regression. Annahmen, Merkmale, Herausforderungen [adjusted excerpt] - Peter Niesen

* Symptome und Merkmale demokratischer Regression

2. Republikanismus, Repräsentation und Regression - Armin Schäfer

3. Die regulative Idee der Wahrheit und demokratische Regression - Michael Zürn

4. Eine Beobachtung der Demokratiebeobachtung. Zur Diagnose demokratischer Regression - Philip Manow

5. Demokratie im Zeichen des Notstands - Jonathan White

* Politische Theorie der Regression

6. Eine demokratische Theorie demokratischer Regressionen [paper] - Fabio Wolkenstein

7. Regression und Erneuerung der Demokratie: eine psychoanalytische Perspektive - Claudia Landwehr

8. Exit-Politik als Regression. Wider den souveränen Voluntarismus [paper] - Svenja Ahlhaus & Markus Patberg

* Nicht-Regression und Fortschritt

9. Die Herrschaft der Unvernunft. Zum Begriff der (anti-)demokratischen Regression [paper] - Rainer Forst

10. Der Imperativ der Nicht-Regression. Adorno, Habermas und die Pfadabhängigkeit von Sperrklinkeneffekten - Peter Niesen

11. Kritik der Regression - Jakob Huber

* Konstitutionelle Demokratie und die Pluralisierung des Demokratieverständnisses

12. Zum Verhältnis von demokratischer und konstitutioneller Regression unter populistischen Regierungen. Eine empirische Analyse [paper] - Jasmin Sarah König & Tilko Swalve

13. Nichtmajoritäre Institutionen – eine Gefahr für die konstitutionelle Demokratie? - Stefan Voigt

14. Das Demokratieverständnis der Bevölkerung und die Regression der Demokratie - Norma Osterberg-Kaufmann

Saturday, August 05, 2023

New book: Rawls’s "A Theory of Justice" at 50

Rawls’s A Theory of Justice at 50

Ed. by Paul Weithman

(Cambridge University Press, 2023)

377 pages


In 1971 John Rawls's A Theory of Justice transformed twentieth-century political philosophy, and it ranks among the most influential works in the history of the subject. This volume of new essays marks the 50th anniversary of its publication with a multi-faceted exploration of Rawls's most important book. A team of distinguished contributors reflects on Rawls's achievement in essays on his relationship to modern political philosophy and 20th-century economic theory, on his Kantianism, on his transition to political liberalism, on his account of public reason and contemporary challenges to it, on his theory's implications for problems of racial justice, on democracy and its fragility, and on Rawls's enduring legacy. 


Introduction [preview] - Paul Weithman 

Part I: Rawls and History

1. Taillight Illumination: How Rawlsian Concepts May Improve Understanding of Hobbes’s Political Philosophy - S. A. Lloyd

2. The Theory Rawls, the 1844 Marx, and the Market - Daniel Brudney

3. Rawls, Lerner, and the Tax-and-Spend Booby Trap: What Happened to Monetary Policy? [paper] - Aaron James

4. Rawls’s Principles of Justice as a Transcendence of Class Warfare - Elizabeth Anderson

5. The Significance of Injustice - Peter de Marneffe

Part II: Developments between A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism

6. On Being a “Self-Originating Source of Valid Claims” - Stephen Darwall

7. Moral Independence Revisited: A Note on the Development of Rawls’s Thought from 1977–1980 and Beyond - Samuel Scheffler

8. The Method of Insulation: On the Development of Rawls’s Thought after A Theory of Justice - Rainer Forst

9. The Stability or Fragility of Justice [paper] - Japa Pallikkathayil

Part III: Rawls, Ideal Theory, and the Persistence of Injustice

10. The Circumstances of Justice [paper] - Erin I. Kelly

11. Why Rawls’s Ideal Theory Leaves the Well-Ordered Society Vulnerable to Structural Oppression - Henry S. Richardson

12. Race, Reparations, and Justice as Fairness - Tommie Shelby

13. On the Role of the Original Position in Rawls’s Theory: Reassessing the “Idealization” and “Fact-sensitivity” Critiques - Laura Valentini

Part IV: Pluralism, Democracy, and the Future of Justice as Fairness

14. Public Reason at Fifty - Kevin Vallier

15. Reasonable Political Conceptions and the Well-Ordered Liberal Society - Samuel Freeman

16. Religious Pluralism and Social Unions - Paul Weithman

17. One Person, at Least One Vote? Rawls on Political Equality …within Limits - David Estlund

18. Reflections on Democracy’s Fragility [paper] - Joshua Cohen

19. A Society of Self-Respect [paper] - Leif Wenar