Sunday, December 24, 2023

Rebekka Habermas (1959-2023)


Nils Minkmar - "Zum Tod von Rebekka Habermas: Sie war eine Erscheinung" (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22-12-2023).

Michael Hesse - "Deuterin der Kolonialgeschichte" (Frankfurter Rundschau, 23-12-2023).

Richard Hölzl - "Entdecken heißt nicht erobern" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27-12-2023).

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Institute for Social Research at 100 [updated]

The next issue of "Constellations" (vol. 40, no. 4) features articles on The Institute for Social Research (Frankfurt am Main) and the Frankfurt School:

"The Institute for Social Research at 100: Continuity and Transformation"

Eleven articles are now available online:

* Axel Honneth - "The Institute for Social Research on its 100th birthday. A former director's perspective"

Excerpt: "There are deeper, less superficial reasons for being skeptical today with regard to the potential of this tradition to guide us in our social–theoretical attempts to comprehend the present situation in a fruitful way, both philosophically sound and empirically productive. In the following, I want to discuss three challenges resulting from structural changes in our social and intellectual environment that make it more and more difficult to preview a fruitful, productive, and energizing future for Critical Theory in its traditional form. These three challenges stem from (1) the growing awareness of the endurance of the colonial past of Western societies, (2) the unmistakable importance of the ecological question, and, finally, (3) the growing uncertainties about the exact format and arrangement of interdisciplinary research."

* Rainer Forst: "The rational critique of social unreason. On critical theory in the Frankfurt tradition"  [open access]

Excerpt: "In my view, then, critical theory must be reconfigured as a critique of relations of justification. This calls, on the one hand, for a critical social scientific analysis of social and political relations of domination that includes cultural and, not least, economic structures and relationships. In this regard, two dimensions of domination must be distinguished: subjugation to unjustifiable norms and institutions, and subjugation to conditions that prevent practices of justification. Such critical analysis must be combined with a discourse-theoretical, genealogical critique of the justifications and justification narratives that confer legitimacy on unjustifiable relations. On the other hand, we must pose the constructive question of how a “basic structure of justification” can be conceived as a requirement of fundamental justice and be realized in social practice - not as an ideal or a model to be imposed on societies, but as a normative order to be developed autonomously. Essentially, a theory we call critical ought to be based on the principle of criticism itself. Its medium is reason striving for practices of autonomous justification among equals."

* Alessandro Ferrara - "If Foucault, why not Rawls? On enlarging the critical tent"

Excerpt: "It is undeniably among the aims of critical theory to envisage a society in which diversity can exist in the absence of oppression. Now, it’s all too easy to merely invoke the ideal of equals living together with their diversity (ethnic, ethical, religious, cultural, or of gender, lifestyle, sexual preference) and without oppression. Deconstructionists, post-colonial theorists, and theorists of recognition often emphatically do so. However, when it comes to specifying concretely which institutions should form the basic structure of such a society, how they should relate to one other, what rights and liberties (and how limited and balanced) citizens should have, and what democratic legitimacy means, it is a whole different story.On the nuts and bolts of an oppression-free society the entire first generation had little to offer, to say nothing of the cauldron of the “verwaltete Welt” (Adorno). Habermas has quite a lot to say, in Between Facts and Norms and in his exchange with Rawls. Among the younger critical theorists who long for reviving the earlier program of the Frankfurt School, few even attempt to say anything. This is the problem, instead, on which [John Rawls's] Political Liberalism, not A Theory of Justice, offers an elaborate theory unmatched by any other to date (....) Critical theory can only gain from enlarging its tent to include also some of Rawls’s concepts - reasonability, civility, reciprocity - and from launching empirical research on the conditions of the possibility for them to maintain traction in the challenging decades ahead of us."

* Maeve Cooke - "Social theory as critical theory: Horkheimer's program and its relevance today"

Excerpt: "Since formalist models of politics abstain from critique of the prevailing deep-seated ethical-existential values and from recommendation of alternatives, they are conducive toward unquestioning acceptance of the ethical-existential values undergirding the established political procedures, facilitating the reproduction of the political status quo. Against this, I take the view that contemporary critical theory must engage with ethical-existential questions, not least if it is to meet the challenges posed by our disastrous ecological situation. This requires it, in turn, to engage with the question of ethical-existential validity. Given the challenge of value pluralism, therefore, a key task for contemporary critical theory is to elaborate a conception of ethical validity that is at once universalist and attentive to the plurality of ethical values and worldviews."

* Samuel Moyn - "Critical theory's generational predicament" [Link]

Excerpt: "(....) it seems clear that the principal cause of the lack of interest in critical theory for younger generations - the lack of zeal to perpetuate or even study it - is that the votaries of the tradition conformed unreflectively to “the end of history” in the 1990s. They had essentially nothing to say about American unipolarity and the militarism that has so clearly accompanied it. Worse, for one-time Marxists, they never formulated an analysis or critique of economic neoliberalism. Yet these are the causes at the center of the activism and theorizing of many who lived through the past decade and forging a critical perspective on their times."

* Martin Saar - "Rethinking Critique and Theory" [open access]

Excerpt: "Benjamin’s partisanship for the perspective of the defeated in historiography, Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s insistence on the deep ambivalence of enlightenment ideals, and Marcuse’s clear-sighted perception of the central role of the excluded and marginalized, whom the capitalist system cannot even properly exploit, are starting points for a radical self-critique of the Western liberation movements, which have yet to admit their own entanglement in domination elsewhere and thus should actually make way for an even more radical, decentered enlightenment and liberation."

* Frank I. Michelman - "Totality, morality, and social philosophy"

Excerpt: "We thus see the Institute for Social Research, at a signal moment in its early history, posing for itself the dialectic of human individual agency and environing social totality - with neither element placed at the other’s disposal - as a main topic for pursuit by social philosophy and its connected program of social research. It is by pursuit of that topic that the Institute’s engagements over the decades of my own academic career have figured, importantly for me, in my work (not generally classified as “Frankfurt School”) on liberal constitutional theory. Most pointedly it has done so in undertakings by Jürgen Habermas to explicate a moral point of view from which citizens in a political society encounter one another as each a free and equal person commanding full respect as such - but to explicate that morality, as I have sought to explain, not as a view “that philosophy independently discovers,” but rather as one that lies embedded in a historically particular social totality."

* Cristina Lafont - "The return of the critique of ideologies" [open access]

Excerpt: "(....) I shall focus on just one issue: the recent revival in critiques of ideology. In my view, this type of critique is an important task of critical theory and remains one of its most significant legacies. Yet, if one focuses on the work of critical theorists over the past decades, this statement is far from obvious. In fact, the second generation of the Frankfurt school,most notably Habermas in his Theory of Communicative Action, explicitly rejects ideology critique as obsolete in the context of contemporary societies. Even though in the 1960s and 1970s, he had embraced the classicalMarxist approach to ideology critique, he ultimately rejected it. It was the explicit attempt to rebut objections that had plagued this approach that brought about the so-called “democratic turn” of critical theory characteristic of Habermas’s work from the 1980s onward and in which the critique of ideologies no longer plays a role."

* Christopher F. Zurn -  "We're not special: Congratulations!"

Excerpt: "It is fine, then, to get right to work on current social movements - Occupy Wall Street and other Square movements, Black Lives Matter, the Sunrise and Third Act movements, MeToo, the Arab Spring, or the Mahsa Amini protests - and on pressing contemporary social problems - climate change and human adaptation, deepening material inequality, the erosion of constitutional democracy, artificial intelligence and human de-skilling, global migration and refugee waves, the transformation of the Westphalian international order, the resilience and resurgence of patriarchy, and so on - without worrying how to fit these movements and problems into the architectonic of Dialectic of Enlightenment or Theory of Communicative Action. To be sure, we need not ignore the conceptual resources and insights of our tradition when they are relevant and enlightening. But we need to take interdisciplinarity seriously by looking to the much broader currents of critical thought on social formations and the changing horizons of human emancipation."

* Peter E. Gordon - "The animating impulses of critical theory"

Excerpt: "For some readers, this generational shift - between the first and second generations of critical theory - is overdramatized into a stark contrast between totalizing negativism and restorationist optimism, both of which seem to hover at too great an altitude above social reality. Needless to say, this contrast does an injustice to both parties. Adorno and Horkheimer are far more committed to reason’s self-reflective possibilities, while Habermas remains far more attentive to reason’s systemic distortion. They converge at a point of dialectical mediation, whereas neither pure negativism nor pure idealism would serve as a viable groundwork for critical theory. In what follows I wish to suggest that Horkheimer’s original model of social philosophy, as animated by a rational but materialist ideal of emancipation, still has enduring merit."

* William E. Scheuerman - "Horkheimer's unrealized vision"

Excerpt: "Horkheimer’s idea of a mutually constructive exchange between philosophy and critical social science has too often been rare and ephemeral. And this should worry us if you believe, as this author does, that Horkheimer was right to see such an exchange as indispensable to critical theory. (....) Only in 1962 did Habermas, in an appropriately interdisciplinary study that relied heavily on research from legal scholars, political scientists, and sociologists, begin to revitalize Frankfurt critical theory. Not only did his landmark Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere take the social sciences seriously, but its young author seems to have implicitly grasped that critical theory could only flourish on the basis of an authentically cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship between philosophy and the social sciences. Horkheimer’s original interdisciplinary vision clearly inspired the young Habermas. When properly reconstructed, it should inspire us today as well."

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).


"Martin Seel nimmt weder moralische Freiheit noch Emanzipation unter die Modi des Sich-bestimmen-Lassens auf. Ich vermute, dass er zu sehr Ästhetiker und zu sehr Wittgensteinianer ist, um die Dimension der Geschichte als Verlaufsform einer für Gerechtigkeit prozessierenden Vernunft angemessen zu berücksichtigen."

"Auch diese Art von Autonomie kann noch als eine Gestalt des Sich-bestimmen-Lassens verstanden werden, wenn nicht gar als dessen Modell. Denn Kant begreift Autonomie genau nach dieser Denkgur als die Freiheit, sich im Handeln von den Geboten der praktischen Vernunft "binden" zu lassen. In diesem mysteriösen Kern des "Sich-binden-Lassens" vereinigt sich allerdings das Moment des Sich-von-vernünftiger-Einsicht-bestimmen-Lassens mit der Anerkennung eines kategorischen Sollens, das über die bloße Önung gegenüber dem, was mir geschieht, hinausweist. Mit diesem überschießenden, über das Bestehende idealisierend hinausweisenden Charakter des Gesollten entsteht das Bewusstsein, dass es an uns liegt, keinen Fehler zu machen. Im Vergleich zu jener Ermächtigung und Bestimmung, die das kommunikativ handelnde Subjekt einerseits durch seine Sprachkompetenz und andererseits durch den jeweils aktuellen sowie den einsozialisierten lebensweltlichen Kontext erfährt und durch sich hindurch zur Wirkung kommen lässt, nimmt im Falle moralischer Forderungen mit der Schwelle möglicher Verfehlungen die Zumutung einer Selbstermächtigung dramatisch zu. Daher gibt es zwischen diesen beiden Alternativen der Zustimmung des subjektiven Geistes zur Ermächtigung durch den objektiven Geist auf der einen, und der Einwilligung des subjektiven Geistes in die Zumutung des objektiven Geistes auf der anderen Seite ein Mittleres, das man erst versteht, wenn man wie Marx auch den Charakter der schon angedeuteten Naturwüchsigkeit des objektiven Geistes in Rechnung stellt, der den subjektiven Geist "mit Gründen täuschen" kann. Wie sich der subjektive Geist von diesen Fesseln des objektiven Geistes befreien kann, zeigt sich freilich nur in seltenen Augenblicken der Emanzipation. Auch diese vollzieht sich im Modus des Sich-bestimmen-Lassens zugleich an und mit dem subjektiven Geist und beleuchtet sowohl in der Lebensgeschichte des Einzelnen wie auch in der Geschichte der Völker ein Mittleres zwischen den Konventionen des Alltags und den Herausforderungen zu moralisch bewusstem Handeln. Und zwar sind das die Momente einer leidenschaftlich inspirierten, jedoch zugleich getriebenen Befreiung – sei es zur Autonomie des Heranwachsenden, sei es zur Erringung institutionalisierter und rechtlich gesicherter Freiheiten. Diese Verwicklung in Prozesse einer "Freiheit im Werden" ist ein Modus des Sich-bestimmen-Lassens diesseits der Moral und des schon geltenden Rechts. Solche Momente einer durch lebensgeschichtliche oder gesellschaftliche Krisen beglaubigten und legitimierten Befreiung vergessen sich auch dann nicht, wenn eine Revolte kurzfristig scheitern sollte – wie zurzeit jene bewegenden, hartnäckig durchgehaltenen Proteste der unbeugsamen belarussischen Frauen, ja, überwiegend Frauen, die mit Blumen in den Händen den hemmungslos prügelnden Schlägern eines repressiven Regimes selbstbewusst die Stirne bieten."

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.

+ Rainer Forst - "Beyond Black and White", A statement published in an article by Michael Hesse in "Frankfurter Rundschau": "Die Suche nach einem "vernünftigen Diskurs"" (25-11-2023).

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.

* Thomas Schmid (Blog), 08-12-2023.

New Lines Magazine (Asef Bayat), online 08-12-2023.

* Die Presse (Gerald Matt), 09-12-2023

* Frankfurter Rundschau (Seyla Benhabib), 18-12-2023

Al-Estiklal (NN), online 21-12-2023

* Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Rudolf Steinberg), 28-12-2023.

* Al-Ahram Weekly (Alieddien Hilal), 11-01-2024.

* Modern East Eye (Hamid Dabashi), online 18-01-2024 (Warning: Outrageous!).

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

Monday, July 31, 2023

International conference in Frankfurt: Futuring Critical Theory

On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, "Institut für Sozialforschung" (IfS) is hosting an international conference "Futuring Critical Theory" at Goethe University Frankfurt on September 13–15, 2023.

* Section 1: Dissecting Critical Theory

* Section 2: Globalizing Critical Theory

* Section 3: Materializing Critical Theory

* Section 4: Recomposing Critical Theory

See the programme here.

Abstracts here.

Registration here.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Public sphere theory in digital societies

Special issue of "Communication Theory" (vol. 33, nos. 2-3, 2023) on the role and future of public sphere theory in digital societies: 

Reconceptualizing public sphere(s) in the digital age? (Open access)

Articles by Mark Eisenegger, Mike S Schäfer, Axel Bruns, Uwe Hasebrink, Thomas N. Friemel, Christoph Neuberger, Sarah J. Jackson, Daniel Kreiss, Hallvard Moe, Pascal Schneiders, Michael Brüggemann, Hendrik Meyer, Hans-Jörg Trenz, Lewis A Friedland, Risto Kunelius, Andreas Jungherr, and Ralph Schroeder.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Reviews of "Ein neuer Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit"

Two reviews of Jürgen Habermas's "Ein neuer Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit und die deliberative Politik" (Suhrkamp, 2022):

* Hubertus Buchstein in "Politische Vierteljahresschrift", forthcoming (Open access)

* Rainer Freudenthaler in "Publizistik", forthcoming (Open access)

See my list of reviews of Habermas's book here.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Discourse Ethical Perspectives on Education

In ”Educational Theory” (vol. 73, no. 2): Discourse Ethical Perspectives on Education in Polarized Political Cultures

* Christopher Martin – “Symposium Introduction: Discourse EthicalPerspectives on Education in Polarized Political Cultures” (open access)

Julian Culp – “Democratic Citizenship Education in Digitized Societies: A Habermasian Approach"

* Christopher Martin – “Educational Institutions and Indoctrination” (open access)

* Anniina Leiviskä – “Truth, Moral Rightness, and Justification: AHabermasian Perspective on Decolonizing the University” (open access)

* Krassimir Stojanov – “Inclusive Universalism as a Normative Principleof Education” (open access)

* Darron Kelly – “Conceptualizing a Practical Discourse Survey Instrument for Assessing Communicative Agency and Rational Trust in Educational Policymaking”

Gertrud Nunner-Winkler – “Discourse Ethics: A Pedagogical Policy for Promoting Democratic Virtues”

Sunday, June 25, 2023

10 most influential thinkers on the left

 In the Spanish newspaper "El pais" (25-06-2023): 

The ten most influential thinkers on the left (according to 37 experts): Karl Marx, Judith Butler, Antonio Gramsci, Thomas Pikkety, Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Jürgen Habermas, Karl Polanyi and Walter Benjamin.

"Los diez pensadores que más influyen en la izquierda" (pay wall).

Monday, June 19, 2023

The Critical Theory of Society

The new issue of "European Journal of Social Theory" (May 2023) features articles on "The Critical Theory of Society":

* Patrick O’Mahony - "Introduction to special issue: The critical theory of society" (PDF)

* Klaus Eder - "Pandora’s box: The two sides of the public sphere" (PDF)

* Piet Strydom - "The critical theory of society: From its Young-Hegelian core to its key concept of possibility" (Abstract)

* Johann P. Arnason - "Lessons from Castoriadis: Downsizing critical theory and defusing the concept of society" (Abstract)

* Hartmut Rosa & Peter Schulz - "Synthesis, Dynamis, Praxis: Critical Theory’s ongoing search for a concept of society" (Abstract)

* Regina Kreide - "Social critique and transformation: Revising Habermas’s colonisation thesis" (PDF)

* Tracey Skillington - "Thinking beyond the ecological present: Critical theory on the self-problematization of society and its transformation" (PDF)

* Patrick O’Mahony - "Critical theory, Peirce and the theory of society" (PDF)

* Daniel Chernilo - "On the relationships between critical theory and secularisation: The challenges of democratic fallibility and planetary survival" (Abstract)

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Book launch of "Rawls Handbuch"

Book Launch of "Rawls Handbuch" on July 6.-7. in Frankfurt am Main:

More information here.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Saturday, June 10, 2023


Rawls-Handbuch. Leben – Werk – Wirkung

Hrsg. von Johannes J. Frühbauer, Michael Reder, Michael Roseneck & Thomas M. Schmidt

(J.B. Metzler, 2023)

692 Seiten


Mit seiner "Theorie der Gerechtigkeit" löste John Rawls (1921–2002) eine Renaissance der normativen politischen Theorie aus, da sie Fragen nach der gerechten Verteilung von Gütern und Chancen wieder als eine zentrale philosophische Aufgabe ernst nahm. Es gilt als eines der einflussreichsten Werke der politischen Philosophie des 20. Jahrhunderts und kann nach wie vor als konstruktiver Beitrag zu aktuellen Diskussionen um Verteilungsgerechtigkeit gesehen werden. Mit seinem zweiten Hauptwerk "Politischer Liberalismus" hat er die Debatte eröffnet, wie wir unter Bedingungen einer pluralistischen Gesellschaft auf vernünftige Weise gemeinsam leben können. Das Werk von Rawls besitzt eine zentrale Bedeutung für die politische Philosophie der Gegenwart und für angrenzende Disziplinen wie Sozialwissenschaften, Rechtswissenschaften oder Theologie. Das Handbuch ist das erste deutschsprachige Nachschlagewerk, welches auf dem aktuellen internationalen Forschungsstand das Gesamtwerk von Rawls in seiner Entwicklung darstellt, zentrale Begriffe erläutert und zudem die wichtigsten Referenzen und Diskussionen vorstellt.

Inhalt [pdf] [preview]

  • Werk: Schriften
  • Werk: Vorlesungen
  • Werk: Sonstiges
  • Referenzautoren
  • Begriffe und Konzepte
  • Wirkung: Rezeption
  • Rezeption: Diskurse
  • Wirkung: Rawls und seine Kritiker/innen

Beiträge von Otfried Höffe, Thomas M. Schmidt, Tim Reiß, Peter Niesen, Oliver Hidalgo, Michael Roseneck, Regina Kreide, Johannes J. Frühbauer, Andreas Gösele, Eva Buddeberg, Michael Reder, Sofie Møller, Darrel Moellendorf et al.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Conference on Habermas' Legal Theory, May 26-27

An international conference on Jürgen Habermas' Legal Theory in "Between Facts and Norms", May 26 - 27, 2023, at the University of Buffalo:

"Critical Encounters with Habermas' Legal Theory"

Zoom access is available.

Keynote speaker: Seyla Benhabib.

Also: Isabelle Aubert, David Ingram, Matthew Specter, Cristina Lafont, William Scheuerman, John D. Abromeit, Phillip Hansen, Brian Caterino, Rurion Melo, Matthew Dimick, and Erin Pineda.

Further information here (location, schedule, abstracts).

Monday, May 22, 2023

Habermas's dissertation on Schelling (free access)

Jürgen Habermas's dissertation from 1954 is now available online:

Das Absolute und die Geschichte. Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken [Free access] (Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg)

Thanks to Hannes Kerber for the pointer!

See links to 165 free online texts by Jürgen Habermas at HabermasForum.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

New book: Free and Equal

Free and Equal

What Would a Fair Society Look Like?

by Daniel Chandler

(Penguin/Allen Lane, 2023)

416 pages


Imagine: you are designing a society, but you don't know who you'll be within it - rich or poor, man or woman, gay or straight. What would you want that society to look like? This is the revolutionary thought experiment proposed by the twentieth century's greatest political philosopher, John Rawls. As economist and philosopher Daniel Chandler argues in this hugely ambitious and exhilarating intervention, it is by rediscovering Rawls that we can find a way out of the escalating crises that are devastating our world today.

Taking Rawls's humane and egalitarian liberalism as his starting point, Chandler builds a careful and ultimately irresistible case for a progressive agenda that would fundamentally reshape our societies for the better. He shows how we can protect free speech and transcend the culture wars; get money out of politics; and create an economy where everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential, where prosperity is widely shared, and which operates within the limits of our finite planet. This is a book brimming with hope and possibility - a galvanising alternative to the cynicism that pervades our politics. 

Contents [Preview]


1. What's Fair

2. A New Social Contract

3. Rawls and His Critics

4. Freedom

5. Democracy

6. Equality of Opportunity

7. Shared Prosperity

8. Workplace Democracy


Daniel Chandler is an economist and philosopher based at the London School of Economics. An interview with Daniel Chandler at Literary Hub (May 2023). 


* Jonathan Wolff (Times Literary Supplement)

* Alan Ryan (Literary Review)

* Stuart Jeffries (The Guardian)

* Jonathan Derbyshire (Financial Times)