Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New book: An Intellectual Biography on Habermas

An Intellectual Biography

by Matthew G. Specter

(Cambridge University Press, October 2010)

263 pages


This book follows postwar Germany's leading philosopher and social thinker, Jürgen Habermas, through four decades of political and constitutional struggle over the shape of liberal democracy in Germany. Habermas's most influential theories - of the public sphere, communicative action, and modernity - were decisively shaped by major West German political events: the failure to de-Nazify the judiciary, the rise of a powerful Constitutional Court, student rebellions in the late 1960s, the changing fortunes of the Social Democratic Party, NATO's decision to station nuclear weapons, and the unexpected collapse of East Germany. In turn, Habermas's writings on state, law, and constitution played a critical role in reorienting German political thought and culture to a progressive liberal-democratic model. Matthew Specter uniquely illuminates the interrelationship between the thinker and his culture.


1. The Making of a '58er: Habermas's Search for a Method
2. Habermas as Synthesizer of German Constitutional Theory, 1958–63
3. From the 'Great Refusal' to the Theory of Communicative Action, 1961–81
4. Civil Disobedience, Constitutional Patriotism, and Modernity: Rethinking Germany's Link to 'the West' (Westbindung), 1978–87
5. Learning from the Bonn Republic: Recasting Democratic Theory, 1984–1996

See a preview of the book here.

Matthew G. Specter is Assistant Professor of History at the Central Connecticut State University. See his excellent article on Habermas: "Habermas's Political Thought, 1984-1996: A Historical Interpretation", Modern Intellectual History, vol. 6, no. 1 (April 2009), pp. 91-119.

Also see Martin Beck Matustik's "Jürgen Habermas: A Philosophical-Political Profile" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for the kind words and publicity.

I've just discovered your Twitter feed which looks great!

Best, Matthew