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Habermas' project (Clarification)

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  • matthew_piscioneri
    [MP wrote] ... he ... These sentences were badly linked. I can see why you thought in your reply that I was suggesting Habermas claims H &A as an expression of
    Message 1 of 24 , Jun 1, 2003
      [MP wrote]

      > He, and others, weren't interrupted by their
      > critique, neither were the blooming post-war social movements and
      > second generation bourgeois emancipatory movements (feminism).
      >Given
      > H&A's critique and JH's claims of normative deficiency he cannot
      >then
      > go on to claim them - as he does - in the _TCA_ as somehow an
      > expression of communicative reason, perhaps as the avenging force
      he
      > writes of in his reply in the Held & Thompson anthology.

      These sentences were badly linked. I can see why you thought in your
      reply that I was suggesting Habermas claims H &A as an expression of
      communicative reason.

      IN FACT, I was pointing to *the second generation bourgeois
      liberation movements and the other social protest movements* that had
      emerged post-WW2 as further evidence that the aporetic interruption
      JH sees as being caused by H & A's critique DIDN'T extend beyond the
      immanent discourses of the FS tradition. Given this, to make sense of
      JH's reconstructive program it seems necessary to place his
      reconstructive objectives and therefore his primary audience *in the
      first place* within the situated context of the FS. After that, there
      is the broader context of the FDR intellectual debates.

      Which isn't to say that JH didn't also developed his theory of
      communicative action to make a metatheoretical contribution to the
      social sciences re- a newer paradigm of communicative
      rationality/action versus purposive rationality/strategic action.

      MattP.
    • Lev Lafayette
      ... Indeed, it is often the opposite. And it is quite possible (contrary to what many used to think) that technical progress, aesthetic progress and normative
      Message 2 of 24 , Jun 3, 2003
        --- In habermas@yahoogroups.com, "matthew_piscioneri"
        <mpiscioneri@h...> wrote:
        >
        > Granted. Neither is *change* automatically *progress*.
        >

        Indeed, it is often the opposite. And it is quite possible (contrary
        to what many used to think) that technical progress, aesthetic
        progress and normative progress will inevitably correlate. They
        don't. The results can are very bloody, the system can be
        extraordinarily unstable, but they don't correlate.

        > In my neighbourhood, our little provincial University of Tasmania
        is
        > considering axing physics, advanced mathematics and philosophy. Can
        > you have a university without physics or philosophy? What you end
        up
        > with is a vocational tertiary boot camp for grunts.

        Vis-a-vis John Dawkins' (Minister of Tertiary Ed, Australia, mid
        80s), "universities must become more responsive to the needs of
        business and industry". Classic Habermas dysfunctionality - the
        system has greater needs than the production of knowledge itself!

        BTW, if you're at Uni of Tasmania, say 'hello' to Peter Boyce for me.
        He knows who I am.

        > It is an old argument in a way - occupational objectives
        > (functionalist reason?) versus the humanities (communicative
        > reason?).

        Well, it's not a case of "versus" the humanities. After all,
        advertising is occupational art and scientists can practise without
        occupational orientations. What it is whether or not a society
        provides functional support for free research.

        > Sure the humanities is often the repository of criticisms of
        > the existing social orders but what isn't understood is that this
        is
        > in part their operational function within the set up of advanced
        > capitalist democratic societies.

        Oh stop it. No system likes internal critics ;-)

        >
        > Yes but...Habermas sets up his _TCA_ era program as a response to
        the
        > roll back of the project of modernity. Part of which was free and
        > equal access to education and health care etc.
        >

        And interesting (although often overlooked) axiomatic to the needs of
        a free market economy.

        > These political budgetary constraints are I think ideologically
        > driven. Where do *we* spend our money? On our constituency, of
        > course. Education and healthcare have to be above the constraints
        of
        > ideology.

        I cannot even begin to fathom when considered popular opinion had
        some influence on the budgetry outcomes of public expenditure...
        There's the seeds of a disenfranchised ersatz democracy!


        > How's that for one vision of the future of humankind.

        Ah, the cyberpunks have been saying that for years (minus the good
        bits). Look outside. They were right. It is Chiba City and the sky
        does look like a television tuned to a dead channel.

        (well, actually if I look outside it's a smashed up fourth world half-
        island nation)

        > Ahh, well, now the EASY part of the question to answer. What should
        > be done in substantive terms? Well,if the weather stays fine I'll
        be
        > going fishing.

        Private freedom isn't particularly useful... but damn it's a good
        escape.

        Regards,


        Lev Lafayette
      • matthew_piscioneri
        Lev, Thanks for the friendly and thoughtful reply. Yes. What happened to the ALP was symptomatic of the ideological rollback that we have all witnessed as
        Message 3 of 24 , Jun 4, 2003
          Lev,

          Thanks for the friendly and thoughtful reply.

          Yes. What happened to the ALP was symptomatic of the ideological
          rollback that we have all witnessed as adults.

          > Vis-a-vis John Dawkins' (Minister of Tertiary Ed, Australia, mid
          > 80s), "universities must become more responsive to the needs of
          > business and industry". Classic Habermas dysfunctionality - the
          > system has greater needs than the production of knowledge itself!
          ------------
          Yes I agree.

          > What it is whether or not a society
          > provides functional support for free research.
          ------------
          This is the thread I found most provocative:

          > > Yes but...Habermas sets up his _TCA_ era program as a response to
          > the
          > > roll back of the project of modernity. Part of which was free and
          > > equal access to education and health care etc.
          > >
          >
          > And interesting (although often overlooked) axiomatic to the needs
          of
          > a free market economy.

          To put in Foucauldian terms; does this represent a positive process
          of de-subjection? Part of the problem for socialists is that this de-
          subjection appears to be exclusive. The poor get excluded. Gee where
          have I heard that before?

          ---------
          Where are you? Are you having fun?

          > (well, actually if I look outside it's a smashed up fourth world
          half-
          > island nation)
          >
          > > Ahh, well, now the EASY part of the question to answer. What
          should
          > > be done in substantive terms? Well,if the weather stays fine I'll
          > be
          > > going fishing.
          >
          > Private freedom isn't particularly useful... but damn it's a good
          > escape.

          It is certainly connected to the good life I think :-). What's the
          good life? A little bit of personal freedom.

          Cheers,

          MattP.
        • Lev Lafayette
          ... Indeed. The popularity of economic rationalism by the late 1980s was endemic. Of course, one only has to look at the global economic data, to see the
          Message 4 of 24 , Jun 6, 2003
            --- In habermas@..., "matthew_piscioneri"
            <mpiscioneri@h...> wrote:
            > Lev,
            >
            > Thanks for the friendly and thoughtful reply.
            >
            > Yes. What happened to the ALP was symptomatic of the ideological
            > rollback that we have all witnessed as adults.

            Indeed. The popularity of economic rationalism by the late 1980s was
            endemic. Of course, one only has to look at the global economic data,
            to see the results. It ain't pretty. Those in their twenties and
            thirties now are the first post-war generation who are poorer than
            their parents


            > > Vis-a-vis John Dawkins' (Minister of Tertiary Ed, Australia, mid
            > > 80s), "universities must become more responsive to the needs of
            > > business and industry". Classic Habermas dysfunctionality - the
            > > system has greater needs than the production of knowledge itself!
            > ------------
            > Yes I agree.
            >
            > > What it is whether or not a society
            > > provides functional support for free research.
            > ------------
            > This is the thread I found most provocative:


            It's an interesting question that doesn't really fit into Habermas'
            schema. What we're referring to here is the system engaging in
            activities foreign to its own references - but which it must do so,
            because of its dependence on the lifeworld.

            >
            > To put in Foucauldian terms; does this represent a positive process
            > of de-subjection? Part of the problem for socialists is that this de-
            > subjection appears to be exclusive. The poor get excluded. Gee where
            > have I heard that before?

            I don't know what you mean by this Foucault term of de-subjection.

            >
            > ---------
            > Where are you? Are you having fun?

            East Timor. It's not really fun, but hey, I volunteered.

            >
            > > (well, actually if I look outside it's a smashed up fourth world
            > half-
            > > island nation)
            > >
            > > > Ahh, well, now the EASY part of the question to answer. What
            > should
            > > > be done in substantive terms? Well,if the weather stays fine I'll
            > > be
            > > > going fishing.
            > >
            > > Private freedom isn't particularly useful... but damn it's a good
            > > escape.
            >
            > It is certainly connected to the good life I think :-). What's the
            > good life? A little bit of personal freedom.

            On that we can all concur.


            Best regards,



            Lev
          • matthew_piscioneri
            Lev, Whoa, East Timor! Good luck :-). ... Sorry for the imprecision. My point was that if modernity for Foucault generated bio-power/social control/capitalist
            Message 5 of 24 , Jun 6, 2003
              Lev,

              Whoa, East Timor! Good luck :-).

              > I don't know what you mean by this Foucault term of de-subjection.

              Sorry for the imprecision. My point was that if modernity for
              Foucault generated bio-power/social control/capitalist subjection;
              then the rollback of modernity as theorized by Habermas can be read
              as a process of *de*-subjection. The niggling point is that only the
              poor appear to be getting de-subjected, which isn't surprising. Were
              they ever subjected? Yes, when the satanic mills required healthy,
              slightly educated proles to turn the grindstones of industry. It's
              ironic how the marxist metanarrative of capital, labour and
              exploitation resurfaces just 20 years after Foucault's untimely
              departure.

              Regards,

              MattP
            • Lev Lafayette
              ... Been here since September last year.. Interesting experience, believe me. ... OK, understand that. Foucault is a tricky one, because although he perceives
              Message 6 of 24 , Jun 8, 2003
                --- In habermas@yahoogroups.com, "matthew_piscioneri"
                <mpiscioneri@h...> wrote:
                > Lev,
                >
                > Whoa, East Timor! Good luck :-).

                Been here since September last year.. Interesting experience, believe me.


                > > I don't know what you mean by this Foucault term of de-subjection.
                >
                > Sorry for the imprecision. My point was that if modernity for
                > Foucault generated bio-power/social control/capitalist subjection;
                > then the rollback of modernity as theorized by Habermas can be read
                > as a process of *de*-subjection. The niggling point is that only the
                > poor appear to be getting de-subjected, which isn't surprising. Were
                > they ever subjected? Yes, when the satanic mills required healthy,
                > slightly educated proles to turn the grindstones of industry. It's
                > ironic how the marxist metanarrative of capital, labour and
                > exploitation resurfaces just 20 years after Foucault's untimely
                > departure.

                OK, understand that. Foucault is a tricky one, because although he
                perceives (correctly) as the subject being situated within a discourse
                of biological, social constraints etc he doesn't pay sufficient
                attention to the emancipation of the subject from biological facts and
                social norms (e.g,. medical technology, civil rights) - a real
                pessimist who sees the effects of power everywhere, but not of
                emancipation (which is why he ended up supporting completely
                reactionary acts like the Aytollah's "revolution" for its "spirit").

                Haberas, a far more sober intellectual, is much more concerned with
                'desubjection'. One on side (the last part of Legitimation Crisis,
                iirc) he recognizes the problems invoked by the (real or imagined)
                complexities of advanced capitalism and the functionalist system
                "painting the lifeworld into a corner" (Luhmann). This of course
                concerns him a great deal - the individual spirit is suppressed and we
                become cog-like individuals in the social system. The other
                alternative, is possibly worse - that is reactionary, where the
                individual becomes subsumed into to religion or the nation-state.

                In both cases it represents the "end of the individual". Something
                that Herr Habermas is very uncomfortable with.
              • matthew_piscioneri
                Just as it happens [:-)]I am writing on Habermas & the individual at the mo . ... we ... If I may, I would like to copy a chunk of first draft stuff for you
                Message 7 of 24 , Jun 10, 2003
                  Just as it happens [:-)]I am writing on Habermas & the individual at
                  the mo'.

                  > Haberas, a far more sober intellectual, is much more concerned with
                  > 'desubjection'. One on side (the last part of Legitimation Crisis,
                  > iirc) he recognizes the problems invoked by the (real or imagined)
                  > complexities of advanced capitalism and the functionalist system
                  > "painting the lifeworld into a corner" (Luhmann). This of course
                  > concerns him a great deal - the individual spirit is suppressed and
                  we
                  > become cog-like individuals in the social system. The other
                  > alternative, is possibly worse - that is reactionary, where the
                  > individual becomes subsumed into to religion or the nation-state.
                  >
                  > In both cases it represents the "end of the individual". Something
                  > that Herr Habermas is very uncomfortable with.

                  If I may, I would like to copy a chunk of first draft stuff for you
                  opinion. At the very least it might distract you for a precious
                  moment from whatever you are doing in East Timor.

                  Best regards,

                  MattP


                  *Language Oriented to Success versus Language Oriented to
                  Understanding*

                  Given the centrality of this distinction between action oriented to
                  success and action oriented to understanding to Habermas's theory of
                  communicative action it is not surprising that this aspect of his
                  work has sparked substantial debate. On the one hand, David
                  Rasmussen (1990) argues that implicit in this distinction Habermas
                  locates an internal connection between participation in communicative
                  action and a "positive" and non-defeatist emancipatory potential
                  which can resist Horkheimer's and Adorno's totalizing critique of
                  reason. This implicit connecting of communicative reason with a
                  potential for the realization of an admittedly "weak" and certainly
                  non-utopian conception of emancipation is insulated in principle
                  against dialectical inversion on the basis of the open ended futurity
                  revealed in the positive dialectics embedded in Habermas's theory of
                  discourse. By this I mean Habermas's theory of discourse denies the
                  possibility of final closure in processes of social discourse. For
                  even the achievement of a consensus does not exclude the possibility
                  that in the future the validity claims upon which the agreement is
                  reached may not be challenged.
                  This is a reading of Habermas's work for which I have some
                  sympathy. On the individual level, this potential to participate
                  freely in and to contribute equally to personal and social forms of
                  dialogical intercourse indicates a minimal conception, at least, of a
                  practical and theoretical state of emancipation. Habermas, however,
                  is quite explicit as to the criteria that demarcate the limits of
                  such emancipatory expectations:

                  "A critique of this sort can indeed be based on the procedural
                  concept of communicative rationality if it can be shown that the
                  decentration of world understanding and the rationalization of the
                  lifeworld are necessary conditions for an emancipated society. It is
                  only the confusion of a highly developed infrastructure of possible
                  forms of life with the concrete historical totality of a successful
                  form of life that is utopian." (1995: 1.74)

                  Cooke (1997) correctly moderates Rasmussen's claims mindful of the
                  criteria Habermas sets for his theory of communicative rationality
                  arguing that `the ideas of undamaged subjectivity and
                  intersubjectivity' do not `describe the concrete shape of exemplary
                  forms of life or paradigmatic individual life histories.' The
                  utopian content of Habermas's theory of communicative rationality
                  contents itself with outlining the procedural framework beneath
                  which `legitimate norms and normative orders' might be constructed,
                  and subjectivities that are `autonomous and individuated'
                  established. Habermas's theory does not specify what these normative
                  orders would look like, or what specific behaviours would form the
                  content of the emancipated personality.

                  I will not pursue further at this stage issues to do with Habermas's
                  conception of emancipation in this or later works. Instead I want to
                  identify a first set of problems with Habermas's distinction between
                  action orientated to success and action orientated to understanding.
                  This distinction is crucial for the development of the second phase
                  of Habermas's reconstructive project. For this phase of his project
                  only makes internal sense if he can sustainably argue for the
                  priority of communicative language use governed by communicative
                  rationality over strategic language use governed by purposive
                  rationality. As the following discussion shows, I do not consider
                  Habermas satisfactorily makes his case.

                  Cooke argues strongly that Habermas's excursion into the philosophy
                  of language can `show no more than the conceptual priority of the
                  communicative mode of language use.' Cooke's point is well taken.
                  The conceptual priority of language oriented towards understanding
                  does not indicate what Cooke terms the `functional primacy' of the
                  communicative mode of language. In other words, whilst the
                  communicative mode of language oriented to reaching understanding can
                  be feasibly reckoned as conceptually prior to language oriented to
                  success, this does not entail that this mode of language dominates
                  (or indeed more importantly dominated) everyday usage. In fact, as
                  Cooke points out, Habermas has acknowledged the tenuous credibility
                  of his thesis that modern social integration depended upon
                  the "shaky" foundation of social actions oriented towards the
                  achievement of agreement or consensus.

                  The line of argument Habermas draws from the philosophy of language
                  for his thesis that communicative actions are naturally prior to
                  strategic actions in the original constitution of the modern social
                  order is controversial yet not unfeasible, as Cooke is prepared to
                  admit. His starting point is what he describes as:

                  "the pretheoretical knowledge of competent speakers, who can
                  themselves distinguish situations in which they are causally exerting
                  an influence upon others from those in which they are coming to an
                  understanding with them, and who know when their attempts have
                  failed." (1995: 1.286)

                  These processes of seeking to reach an understanding, Habermas
                  argues, aim at reaching an agreement; that is a `rationally motivated
                  assent [Zustimmung] to the content of an utterance.' Furthermore,
                  the rational conditions of this process of seeking to reach an
                  understanding preclude the employment of force or manipulation, for
                  example. Rather: `A communicatively achieved agreement has a rational
                  basis: it cannot be imposed by either party.'

                  What Habermas is striving to define is the unique class of
                  linguistically mediated social interactions he terms communicative
                  actions. Central to this definition is the notion of "reaching an
                  understanding". In Habermas's theoretical lexicon, the process of
                  reaching an understanding [Verständigung] `means, at the minimum,
                  that at least two speaking and acting subjects understand a
                  linguistic expression in the same way.' His next and more
                  controversial premise in this argument is that `Reaching
                  understanding is the inherent telos of language.' His objective is
                  to argue that the use of language oriented to reaching understanding
                  is prior to the use of language oriented to reaching success. In
                  Habermas's words:

                  "the use of language with an orientation to reaching understanding is
                  the original mode of language use, upon which indirect understanding,
                  giving something to understand or letting something be understood,
                  and the instrumental use of language in general, are parasitic."
                  (1995: 1.288)

                  Habermas develops his thesis by arguing that in order to grasp the
                  meaning of a speech act social actors engaged in linguistic
                  communication must take a position on the validity claims raised by
                  that speech act: `We understand a speech act when we know what makes
                  it acceptable.' This is a strong thesis and one that has attracted
                  its fair share of criticism. Cooke argues that Habermas's claim here
                  is designed to make room for a concept of "truth" that is `context-
                  transcendent,' and satisfies truth-conditional semantic theory
                  from `Frege to Davidson.'

                  Be this as it may, out of this thesis Habermas derives the conclusion
                  that language oriented to success is secondary or `parasitic' on
                  language oriented to reaching understanding. Initially Habermas
                  makes a clear distinction between the use of language exclusive to
                  the coordination of communicative actions:

                  "Thus I count as communicative action those linguistically mediated
                  interactions in which all participants pursue illocutionary aims, and
                  only illocutionary aims, with their mediating acts of communication."
                  (1995: 1.295)

                  This type of social action, according to Habermas, stands in contrast
                  to strategic actions. These actions are coordinated on the basis of
                  the perlocutionary effects also attainable through linguistically
                  mediated communication. In other words, strategic actions are
                  coordinated via a language use that is designed to compel, threaten,
                  cajole, deceive or manipulate a dialogical partner into undertaking a
                  course of action:

                  "On the other hand, I regard as linguistically mediated strategic
                  action those interactions in least at which one of the participants
                  wants his speech acts to produce perlocutionary effects on his
                  opposite number." (1995: 1.295)

                  It is clear from what Habermas writes in the TCA that in general he
                  considers the perlocutionary effects of language to be – in a sense –
                  dysfunctional or at least an aberration of "natural" language usage.
                  At one stage Habermas states:

                  "Perlocutionary acts constitute a subclass of teleological actions
                  which must be carried out by means of speech acts, under the
                  condition that the actor does not declare or admit to his aims as
                  such." (1995: 1.292)

                  Shortly after he notes:

                  "Perlocutionary acts are an indication of the integration of speech
                  acts into contexts of strategic interaction. They belong to the
                  intended consequences or results of a teleological action which an
                  actor undertakes with the intention of influencing a hearer in a
                  certain way by means of illocutionary successes." (1995: 1.293)

                  Although, keeping in mind Chapter Three's discussion of the requisite
                  perlocutionary speech acts of the social critic and/or emancipator,
                  Habermas is subtle enough not to dichotomize the distinction between
                  illocutionary and perlocutionary speech acts into a simplistic
                  good/bad or emancipatory/counter-emancipatory binary. He
                  writes: `Here we must take into consideration that not only do
                  illocutions appear in strategic-action contexts, but perlocutions
                  appear in contexts of communicative action as well.'

                  However, the main point Habermas argues for is his conclusion that
                  for a social actor to achieve perlocutionary effects in the
                  coordination of a concealed strategic action the deceitful or
                  manipulative partner in dialogue must first have mastered the use of
                  illocutionary effects achieved in the use of language oriented to
                  reaching understanding. On this basis, he asserts, language oriented
                  to reaching understanding is prior to or more natural than language
                  oriented to success:

                  "Naturally, speech acts can serve this nonillocutionary aim of
                  influencing hearers only if they are suited to achieve illocutionary
                  aims. If the hearer failed to understand what the speaker was saying,
                  a strategically acting speaker would not be able to bring the hearer,
                  by means of communicative acts, to behave in the desired way. To this
                  extent, what we initially designated as "the use of language with an
                  orientation to consequences" is not an original use of language but
                  the subsumption of speech acts that serve illocutionary aims under
                  conditions of action oriented to success." (1995: 1.293)

                  In agreement with Cooke, this is Habermas's primary argument that
                  language oriented to reaching understanding, is the original use of
                  language. Ergo, the type of social actions that language oriented to
                  reaching understanding coordinates (communicative actions) must come
                  prior to strategic actions.

                  This reading is a strong interpretation of the development of
                  Habermas's argument in Volume One of the TCA. At the end of the
                  section in which he details his programme of formal pragmatics,
                  Habermas is more circumspect about the relevance of this programme to
                  his overall theory construction than I have suggested:

                  "In the present context, the main advantage of a formal pragmatics is
                  that it highlights, in the pure types of linguistically mediated
                  interaction, precisely those aspects under which social actions
                  embody different sorts of knowledge. The theory of communicative
                  action can make good the weaknesses we found in Weber's action
                  theory, inasmuch as it does not remain fixated on purposive
                  rationality as the only aspect under which action can be criticized
                  and improved." (1995: 1.332)

                  My contention, and I suggest this is Habermas's implicit strategy at
                  least, is that on the basis of his formal pragmatics he asserts the
                  theoretical priority of communicative actions over strategic actions
                  in the formation and consolidation of the modern social order. He
                  does come close to articulating this position in the first few
                  sentences of the following chapter. In summary of his discussion of
                  Weber's theory of modernity and the newer theoretical potentials
                  afforded by his theory of communicative action, Habermas writes:

                  ""Meaning" as a primitive term of communication theory had to remain
                  inaccessible to a neo-Kantian [Weber] reared in the tradition of the
                  philosophy of consciousness. The same holds for a concept of societal
                  rationalization drawn up from the perspective of action oriented to
                  reaching understanding and referring to the lifeworld as the common
                  background knowledge presupposed in real action. The rationalization
                  of society would then no longer mean a diffusion of purposive-
                  rational action and a transformation of domains of communicative
                  action into subsystems of purposive-rational action. The point of
                  reference becomes instead the potential for rationality found in the
                  validity basis of speech." (1995: 339)

                  This point of reference, I am suggesting, is properly understood as
                  the type of social action original to the modern social order. It is
                  an interpretation that I think Cooke is also sympathetic to:

                  "Habermas argues that communicative action is the primary mechanism
                  of social integration (in modern societies) and that strategic action
                  is merely a secondary one. His attempt to prove that the use of
                  language oriented toward understanding is the original mode of
                  language use, and that other modes of language use are parasitic on
                  it, appears to be an important part of this argument." (1997: 22)

                  In Volume Two of the TCA Habermas develops his thesis on the primacy
                  of communicative actions over strategic actions in the integration of
                  the modern social order via the reconstruction of the anthropological
                  studies of George Mead and Emile Durkheim's sociologies of morality
                  and religion. I will defer my discussion of this development in the
                  construction of Habermas's theory of communicative action for the
                  time being. At this stage I want to examine what I am describing as
                  the problem of asymmetry in the theoretical distinction Habermas's
                  makes between communicative actions and strategic actions.

                  4.4.1 The Problem of Asymmetry: Communicative and Strategic Actions

                  The problems Habermas's program of formal pragmatics encounters in
                  supporting his thesis that communicative actions are the primary
                  mechanism of integration in the modern social order also – I think –
                  return us to the issue of the relation between theory and practice
                  and the missing motivational component in Habermas's later work.
                  Importantly, broaching these issues from the angle of the distinction
                  Habermas makes between language oriented to success and language
                  oriented to reaching understanding clarifies – in a helpful way for
                  Habermas I think – the issues previously raised.

                  The main questions I took Heller (1983) as posing can be formulated
                  as follows. First, on the basis of Habermas's critical communication
                  theoretic, why should a social actor engage in a process of seeking
                  to reach an understanding? Second, and again on the basis of
                  Habermas's theory, why should a social actor engage in praxis to
                  implement or maintain the procedural framework Habermas's theory of
                  communicative action argues for?

                  In Knowledge and Human Interests, Habermas's now disavowed strategy
                  was to argue that the species' constitutive interest in self-
                  reflection coincides with an interest in emancipation. In the mature
                  formulation of his theory of communicative rationality there is no
                  internal connection posited between human competence for speech, the
                  rational orientation to exercise this competence and a motive for
                  freedom.

                  Habermas's difficulties are manifold. On the one hand he announces a
                  paradigm change from the philosophy of consciousness to the
                  philosophy of language, and the rhetoric insistence with which he
                  announces this claim is central to his objective of redefining the
                  tradition of Critical Theory. On the other hand, his theory of
                  communicative rationality not only presumes a theory of cognitive
                  rationality, but also, as I argued in Chapter Three, requires such a
                  theory if he is to address Heller's critical query over the missing
                  motivational factor in his work. Otherwise, and notwithstanding
                  themes developed in his later discourse ethics, Habermas is at the
                  risk of sacrificing all notions of individual autonomy. For, without
                  acknowledging some degree of autonomous rational orientation on the
                  part of individual social actors, the reproduction of the lifeworld
                  via communicative actions becomes an automatic social reflex
                  dependent upon the precarious distribution of the potential for the
                  comprehensive socialization of individuals. This interpretation leads
                  to a bleak picture of the social world in which individual social
                  actors are reduced to conduits of the lifeworld in a manner that
                  suggests the residual influence of Heidegger in Habermas's work.

                  This tension also emerges out of the distinction Habermas makes
                  between language oriented to reaching understanding and language
                  oriented to success. For implicit in this distinction is the capacity
                  for choice exercised by those social actors who participate in
                  linguistically mediated communication oriented to success in contrast
                  to those social actors who participate in linguistically mediated
                  communication oriented to reaching understanding.

                  This is the asymmetrical tension I detect in this crucial aspect of
                  Habermas's theory construction. It appears that Habermas is willing
                  to grant a greater degree of individual autonomy to those social
                  actors who pursue success-oriented language than he is to those
                  social actors who participate in processes of seeking to reach an
                  understanding. An immediate dissonant note is struck given that
                  notions of individual or subjective autonomy are usually associated
                  more with processes of enlightenment and emancipation. Again what
                  this suggests is Habermas's unyielding rejection of any form of
                  subjectivist reason. Yet in his rejection of both Kant and Nietzsche,
                  Habermas appears comfortable with allowing a more Hegelian strain to
                  take precedence in his understanding of the relationship between
                  individual autonomy and processes of enlightenment and emancipation.

                  In a manner distinctly reminiscent of Friedrich Hegel's merging of
                  the aspiration for individual freedom within the concrete embodiment
                  of the World Historical Spirit in the German State, Habermas makes
                  processes of enlightenment and emancipation interdependent on the
                  meaning-generating resources of the modern lifeworld. This submerged
                  Hegelian strand in Habermas's critical philosophy is more obvious in
                  BFN and I will defer further discussion of this perspective until
                  Chapter Six.

                  The important point to take from this part of the discussion is that
                  Habermas deliberately appears to separate autonomy and freedom. It is
                  a radical step to take and yet Habermas's precursors here are not
                  only Hegel but Karl Marx as well. The counterpoint to my critique of
                  Habermas's revision of the individualistic basis of emancipation is
                  surely Marx's conception of individual freedom achieved through class
                  or communal solidarity. Understood from this genealogical perspective
                  Habermas's emphasis upon an intersubjectively constituted framework
                  of emancipation becomes more palatable.

                  The tension in Habermas's theory construction on this point then
                  becomes, as Dews (1999) also draws attention to, how to cohere the
                  dynamic interpenetration between subjectivity and intersubjectivity
                  in Habermas's theory. For despite the emphasis Habermas places
                  throughout his theory of communicative action on intersubjectivity
                  there remains an ineradicable subjective component in his depiction
                  of how processes of seeking to reach an understanding are transacted:

                  "Social actions can be distinguished according to whether the
                  participants adopt either a success-oriented attitude or one oriented
                  to reaching understanding. And, under suitable conditions, these
                  attitudes should be identifiable on the basis of the intuitive
                  knowledge of the participants themselves." (1995: 1.286)

                  This psychologistic emphasis on the centrality of the subjective
                  cognitive attitudes of dialogical participants also appears in
                  Habermas's earlier detailing of what constitutes a communicative
                  action:

                  "It is the actors themselves who seek consensus and measure it
                  against truth, rightness, and sincerity, that is, against the "fit"
                  or "misfit" between the speech act, on the one hand, and the three
                  worlds to which the actor takes up relations with his utterance, on
                  the other." (1995: 1.100)

                  Habermas appears to be committed to a theory of subjective cognitive
                  rationality. Otherwise it is difficult to explain why certain social
                  actors turn towards a language use oriented to success and others
                  employ a use of language oriented to reaching success. Agnes Heller
                  identifies the issue under examination with pinpoint precision:

                  "Readiness for emancipation is explained by the transcendental
                  theorem: we are rational beings, consequently we do not choose
                  rationality as a value. In his efforts to eliminate decisionism, he
                  identifies a conditional assertion with a statement. The conditional
                  assertion is this: if we choose at all, we cannot choose anything but
                  rationality. The statement is this: we do not choose rationality,
                  because we are rational being. Habermas only establishes the first
                  (conditional) assertion, not the second one, but in fact he
                  substitutes the second for the first. I think, however, that these
                  two are theoretically and practically different statements and that
                  the first does not prove the second. We can choose the priority of
                  instrumental or strategic rationality over communicative rationality,
                  and we may not choose at all but simply follow drives, emotions or
                  habits. Acceptance of this possibility would not mean relapsing into
                  the trap of decisionism, because it does not assert that there is a
                  choice between rationality and irrationality. What it does state is
                  that communicative rationality is a choice, a value-choice." (1983:
                  29)

                  Once again the obstinate problem for Habermas remains, as Heller
                  already indicates, on what normative basis does a social actor turn
                  either towards language oriented to reaching understanding or
                  language oriented towards success:

                  "The question of whether, and, if so, how, distortion of
                  communication is motivated cannot be answered by Habermas; nor can he
                  answer the question what would motivate us to get rid of the
                  distortion. The assumption that consensus can be achieved in a
                  process of enlightenment is in fact no answer: the will to achieve
                  consensus is the problem in question." (1983: 25)

                  So Lev, if you are still awake, I am not *entirely* convinced that
                  Habermas is defending the individual. There seems to be a greater
                  sympathy in his work for the socialized individual.

                  Best regards,

                  MattP.
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