The Philosophy of Habermas

The Philosophy of Habermas

The Philosophy of Habermas

The Philosophy of Habermas

Synopsis

A comprehensive introduction to the thought of Jurgen Habermas. It covers the full range of his ideas from his early work on student politics to his work on communicative action, ethics and law. It examines Habermas' key texts in chronological order, revealing the developments, shifts and turns in Habermas' thinking.

Excerpt

The primary objective of this book is to make the reader ready to take on Habermas’s own works. Habermas’s writings are, if we are honest, complex and on first reading obscure. To read them requires patience, and the ability to recognize the multiple themes that often run in parallel through extended arguments. It also requires a familiarity with the history of German philosophy and the history of sociology and social theory, as well as with contemporary debates in both continental and analytic philosophy, not to mention a fair grasp of cognitive psychology and some psychoanalysis. To meet these demands I am offering a substantial introduction. It is not enough just to offer an introduction, in the sense of a schematic run through Habermas’s big ideas. Rather, I have attempted to sketch in something of the detail of his argument, and to convey the manner in which he weaves together multiple strands of thought.

The structure of the book is a more or less chronological account of Habermas’s career. Such an account has an intrinsic interest, in so far as it allows us to see the developments, shifts and turns in Habermas’s thinking as he strives to refine basic insights, and to incorporate new sources and ideas. It also allows chapters and their subsections to focus largely on specific texts. I am well aware that many readers will approach this text for guidance on reading specific books or essays by Habermas. I have therefore attempted, as far as possible, to achieve a certain self-sufficiency in each chapter. Chapters should make some sense on their own. In this attempt I have almost certainly failed, so I have included cross-references between sections, and would advise any reader to look to the index for further cross-referencing. For the reader who is going to follow the whole book, cover to cover, I apologise in advance for a certain degree of repetition. My only excuse is that Habermas himself returns to themes repeatedly throughout his career. My gloss merely echoes Habermas’s own habit of creatively revisiting problems.

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