Marx and the Postmodernism Debates: An Agenda for Critical Theory

By Lorraine Y. Landry | Go to book overview
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Chapter 6
A Fruitful Tension Approach

This chapter examines the nature of the divergences and similarities between Habermas's and the poststructuralists in their critiques of Enlightenment rationality and modernity by initially interrogating key elements of Habermas's theory of communicative rationality. The adequacy of Habermas' evaluation of the positive potential of the project of modernity will be seen to be directly dependent on the validity of his arguments for a particular philosophy of language which underpins his theory of communication. Prior to this examination, however, a brief recapitulation of the approach to the postmodernism debates adduced thus far will recall the background considerations prompting a fruitful tension among the proponents.

Habermas defends the Enlightenment and his social theory as heir to critical theory in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. 1 He has developed, antecedent to the postmodernism debates, a philosophy of language which he counters to the poststructuralist uses of language. This "linguistic turn" forms part of the basis of his critique and is conjoined with his theory of modernity in The Theory of Communicative Action where it is articulated with his view of modernization as a rationalization process. 2 This complex theory represents Habermas's attempt to point the way to the desired completion of the project of

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