Thursday, July 08, 2021

Dutch articles on “Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie”

The new issue of the Dutch journal “Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte” (vol. 113, issue 2) features articles on Jürgen Habermas’ “Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie” (2019):

* René Gabriëls & Ronald Tinnevelt – ”De genese van redelijke vrijheid. Habermas over geloven en weten”

* Guido Vanheeswijck – "Over de rol van filosofie in de post-seculiere samenleving"

English abstract: Faith and knowledge’ in Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie. On the Role of Philosophy in Post-Secular Society

This article focuses on three aspects that might clarify the quintessence of Habermas’ position regarding the relation between faith and knowledge in his book, Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie. First, a concise overview is given of the role of this specific theme in Habermas’ oeuvre as a whole (from his earliest to his later writings), that may help to illuminate why his so-called shift with regard to the relation between faith and knowledge is in need of modification. Subsequently, the question is raised as to the possible role philosophy may still play for Habermas in the contemporary climate of so-called post-secular thought. Finally, some critical remarks are formulated concerning his genealogical reconstruction, in particular his treatment of respectively the axial period, the double face of nominalism and the specific status of a philosophical, conceptual translation of religious contents.

*Pieter Pekelharing  - ”Westerse filosofie en de koorddans tussen geloof en weten”

English abstract: Western philosophy and the tightrope between faith and knowledge

In Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie (2019), Habermas develops a new view of the history of philosophy. Dating philosophy back to the axial age, he presents its history as the result of a collective learning process, spanning a period of three millennia. In this new approach he highlights the crucial importance of faith and religion which resulted in a specific constellation of belief and knowledge that, though unique to the West, has universal import, and led to greater ‘reasonable freedom (Vernüftige Freiheit). In Habermas’ view The West’s Judeo-Christian heritage was not a passing phase in the emergence of modern thought and politics, but contributed its essential core. Though sympathetic to the idea of learning processes spanning many centuries, one may ask whether reasoning and learning processes always tend to lead, as Habermas claims, in the direction of greater freedom instead of its opposite. In this respect Habermas could have learnt more from the sceptical tradition in philosophy and its persistent interest in the various ways in which reasoning processes are non-cognitively embedded in human nature and society and influence the direction these processes take.

* Maria Kardaun – “Omnis determinatio est negation”

English abstract: Omnis Determinatio est Negatio. On Habermas, Myth, and Truth

With his monumental genealogy of Western philosophy Jürgen Habermas delivers an achievement that is worthy of great praise. In carefully constructed arguments he presents in detail the close connection between, and the mutual indebtedness of, religion and philosophy as they developed in the West for more than two millennia. With regard to the current state of affairs he acknowledges that we should continue to engage with subjects such as purpose, meaningfulness, and how to behave. He proposes that where religion is withdrawing, philosophy should take its place. In spite of its great merits, there are some fundamental shortcomings in the overall image Habermas wishes to convey. By suggesting that Western religion and philosophy have been the major driving forces not only of cognitive but also of ethical progress, he underestimates the moral value of pre-Socratic and other holistic world views that radically differ from the idiosyncratic Western one. For example, he perceives Homer’s mythological thinking as nothing but a primitive state of mind against which the ethical and intellectual progress of later developments could come to the fore. This paper proposes that we should give much more weight to the difference between the ‘cognitive’ and the ‘ethical’ than Habermas does. In principle, as a form of argumentative reasoning, philosophy belongs to the (cognitive) domain of truth. As such, it is not a suitable successor to religion. On the other hand, provided they operate primarily within their own domain – which is the domain of meaningfulness –, religion (in whatever form), literature and the arts, ancient myth, friendship, love, and humour may still be best equipped to sharpen our sense of justice and help us deal with feelings of moral disorientation and fragmentation.

* Joke Spruyt – “Logica modernorum. Een kanttekening bij Habermas’ portret van de middeleeuwse wijsbegeerte”

English abstract: Logica modernorum. A critical note on Habermas’s portrait of medieval philosophy

In his monumental history of philosophy, the eminent scholar Jürgen Habermas has managed to provide us with a thorough and very nuanced overview of thousands of years of western thought. The famous philosopher paints an impressive picture of the vicissitudes of the modernisation processes featuring in the history of western philosophy. The Leitmotiv of Habermas’s narrative is the way in which throughout history philosophy dealt with the question concerning the relationship between faith and reason. When it comes to the Middle Ages, it is not surprising that Habermas should focus on the opposition between Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham. However, by confining himself to the concepts of fides and ratio, he completely overlooks thirteenth-century developments in the domain of logic. To take note of these developments is fundamental to understand the process of modernisation in philosophy. The aim of this paper is to fill in the gap, by concentrating on thirteenth-century discussions of necessity and (logical) consequences.

* Henning Tegtmeyer – “Habermas over genealogie, metafysica en godsdienst”

English abstract: Habermas on genealogy, metaphysics and religion

Habermas’s impressive history of philosophy presents itself both as a comprehensive account of the history of Western philosophy from its beginning to the 19th century and as a genealogy of post-metaphysical thinking. In this paper I argue that this twofold goal creates a serious methodological problem. I also find Habermas’s understanding of metaphysics unclear and partly misguided. If that is correct it has consequences not only for the very notion of post-metaphysical thinking but also for the understanding of the dialogue between philosophy, religion, and modern secular society that Habermas advocates.

* Geert Van Eekert – “Pas de deux met een theologische erfenis”

English abstract: Pas de deux with a theological legacy. Jürgen Habermas on David Hume and Immanuel Kant

In his latest opus magnum, Jürgen Habermas reconsiders the history of philosophy from a peculiar perspective: the true and unique nature of philosophy is shown to have been given shape in philosophy’s dispute with Christian theology. This article reviews Habermas’ chapter on the Enlightenment, in which Habermas casts David Hume and Immanuel Kant dancing their own pas de deux with that theological legacy. After having sketched the historical scripts in which Hume and Kant are involved by Habermas, I will critically assess the author’s claim that while Hume ends up refusing the dance and (hence) betraying (enlightened) philosophy’s nature, Kant accepts and transforms the heritage, yet ends up failing to give his pas de deux a genuine modern and enlightened twist.

* Paul Cobben – ”Habermas’ receptie van het denken van Hegel en Marx in Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie”

English abstract: Habermas’s reception of Hegel’s and Marx’s thinking in Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie

According to Habermas, Hegel has contributed to the development of the paradigm of speech-philosophy insofar as he transformed Kant’s noumenal subject into a free subject that is related to the lifeworld. By interpreting the unity of the lifeworld by means of a philosophical conceptualization of the religious cultus, however, he re-introduces a metaphysical approach in philosophy. Habermas praises Marx because he made this metaphysical approach of the lifeworld undone. His economic determinism, however, cannot be reconciled with the free subject. Habermas’s Hegel-reception is criticized because it misunderstands Hegel’s attempt to conceptualize why it is possible at all to realize freedom in the lifeworld; his Marx-reception is criticized because it ignores that freedom for Marx is only the result of the communist revolution.

See also my links to reviews of Habermas's "Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophy".

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