Ideas from 'The Theory of Communicative Action' by Jürgen Habermas [1981], by Theme Structure

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / a. Philosophy as worldly
Habermas seems to make philosophy more democratic
                        Full Idea: Habermas is concerned to avoid the traumas of modern German history by making democracy an integral part of philosophy.
                        From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy Conc 'Habermas'
                        A reaction: Hence Habermas's emphasis on communication as central to language, which is central to philosophy. Modern philosophy departments are amazingly hierarchical.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 4. Metaphysics as Science
The aim of 'post-metaphysical' philosophy is to interpret the sciences
                        Full Idea: For Habermas, the task of what he calls 'post-metaphysical' philosophy is to be a stand-in and interpreter for the specialized sciences.
                        From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by James Gordon Finlayson - Habermas Ch.5:65
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 5. Critical Theory
We can do social philosophy by studying coordinated action through language use
                        Full Idea: Habermas claims to have embarked upon a new way of doing social philosophy, one that begins from an analysis of language use and that locates the rational basis of the coordination of action in speech.
                        From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by James Gordon Finlayson - Habermas Ch.3:28
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Rather than instrumental reason, Habermas emphasises its communicative role
                        Full Idea: Instead of Enlightenment instrumental rationality (criticised by Adorno and Horkheimer), Habermas emphasizes 'communicative rationality', which makes critical discussion and mutual understanding possible.
                        From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.6
                        A reaction: There was a good reason not to smoke cigarettes, before we found out what it is. In one sense, reasons are in the world. This is interesting, but I feel analytic vertigo, as the lovely concept of 'rationality' becomes blurred and diffused.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 11. Denying the A Priori
What is considered a priori changes as language changes
                        Full Idea: Habermas claims that what is regarded as a priori changes with history. This is because the linguistic structures on which judgements depend are themselves part of history, not prior to it.
                        From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy Conc 'Habermas'
                        A reaction: This is an interesting style of argument generally only found in continental philosophers, because they see the problem as historical rather than timeless. Compare Idea 20595, which sees analyticity historically.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 1. Meaning
To understand a statement is to know what would make it acceptable
                        Full Idea: We understand the meaning of a speech act when we know what would make it acceptable.
                        From: Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981], I:297), quoted by James Gordon Finlayson - Habermas Ch.3:37
                        A reaction: Finlayson glosses this as requiring the reasons which would justify the speech act.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 3. Meaning as Speaker's Intention
Meaning is not fixed by a relation to the external world, but a relation to other speakers
                        Full Idea: On Habermas's view, meanings are not determined by the speaker's relation to the external world, but by his relation to his interlocutors; meaning is essentially intersubjective.
                        From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by James Gordon Finlayson - Habermas Ch.3:38
                        A reaction: This view is not the same as Grice's, but it is clearly much closer to Grice than to (say) the Frege/Davidson emphasis on truth-conditions. I'm not sure if I would know how to begin arbitrating between the two views!
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / a. Nature of Liberalism
People endorse equality, universality and inclusiveness, just by their communicative practices
                        Full Idea: The ideal of equality, universality, and inclusiveness are inscribed in the communicative practices of the lifeworld, and agents, merely by virtue of communicating, conform to them.
                        From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by James Gordon Finlayson - Habermas Ch.4:60
                        A reaction: This summary of Habermas's social views strikes me as thoroughly Kantian. It is something like the ideals of the Kingdom of Ends, necessarily implemented in a liberal society. Habermas emphasises the social, where Kant starts from the liberal.