argues that there is a "decentered understanding of the world," which allows for reflection from different perspectives -- decentered understanding -- and for critique -- the criticizability of validity claims ( Moral Consciousness137-38).
In effect, Habermas theorizes a space for both a critical rhetoric and what Georgia Warnke has called "critical pluralism" by triangulating the ideal speech situation, communicative action, and strategic action. 3 It is through the play of these parameters that rhetoric eschews the reiterative monotony of alienated individualism, essentialized pluralism, and dominating communitarianism for the critical multivocality of political and cultural autonomy. Habermas's theoretical space is at once a sort of conceptual public sphere and konoi topoi that first recognizes the legitimacy of different voices, but then insists on openly validating them in relation to the criticizeability of their claims, in the context of power, and against the possibilities of systematically distorted communication. It is this critical impulse in Habermas that is necessary to sustain a healthy multivocality, where the insistence on tolerance is reduced to neither the cacophony of intolerance nor the silence of disingenuous consensus.
Space has been the governing metaphor of my argument, for without space there cannot be perspective, and without perspective the prospect of rhetoric is dim. Without space and perspective, there can be only the worst kind of identification -- claustrophobic -- a sort of infernal metonymy that is always reducing the one into the many, the many into the one. To disrupt this sort of identification, to displace it with difference that can both tolerate difference and provide for negotiated, unified practices, requires critical impulses like those in Plato and Habermas. Without such a critical impulse, is there a prospect of rhetoric at all?