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Book Title: Teoria działania komunikacyjnego. Tom 1. Racjonalność działania a racjonalność społeczna|
Date of issue: 1999
ISBN 13: 9788301129460
The author of the book: Jürgen Habermas
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 958 KB
Edition: Wydawnictwo naukowe PWN
Read full description of the books Teoria działania komunikacyjnego. Tom 1. Racjonalność działania a racjonalność społeczna:This is a difficult book to rate, since it's obviously very important/influential. And the horrific style could bias anyone against it. But I finally settled on two stars. Why?
* Habermas' theory is meant to be an advance beyond previous critical theories. He argues that their focus on consciousness philosophy (broadly speaking, an individualist approach to social theory, which assumes that individuals are the primary bearers of meaning) leads them into all sorts of problems. But his interpretations of those previous critical theories are, not to put too fine a point on it, appalling. He misreads Hegel; he misreads Marx to such a great extent that one might almost believe he'd never even read *Capital*; and his take on earlier critical theorists is more or less limited to Horkheimer's 'Eclipse of Reason.' Habermas' main criticism of Adorno is that Adorno seeks a solution to the problems of modern societies in a kind of irrationalist mysticism. It is no surprise that almost all of his evidence for this is taken from books *about*, rather than *by* Adorno. (Good rebuttals of Habermas' readings of Hegel and Marx can be found in Pippin's 'Idealism as Modernism,' and Postone's 'Time, Labor and Social Domination' respectively.)
* For Habermas, the main problem with previous critical theories is that they don't seem to be grounded. Habermas sees a strict dichotomy here. Either you ground your theory by taking on a universalist perspective, or you lapse into relativism. Because critical theory has tended to avoid universalism, it must be relativistic. This is tied to his failure to understand Hegel's work. Hegel shows that the dichotomy between universalism and relativism is flawed; that something can be grounding without being universal. On this approach, critical theory is right to find its foundation only in an immanent critique of the present, without a universalist standpoint.
* Habermas claims to find his universalist standpoint in language. He argues that any any speech act assumes the possibility of rational agreement, and that this can be a basis of a critical theory. Language becomes the inalienable repository of freedom and reconciliation. This is where Habermas' rejection of 'consciousness philosophy' hurts him most. Why is it that language can remain more or less pure? He has no answer for this question. 'Consciousness philosophy,' of course, would argue that since language is bound up with consciousness; and since consciousness somewhat obviously cannot remain 'pure' in an impure world; then language itself cannot remain pure, and cannot be the universal standpoint Habermas seeks.
* Finally, Habermas tries to combine two sociological approaches: systems theory and action theory. He never asks, however, if these theories themselves might be reflections of actual social problems which cannot be merely 'combined' at the theoretical level. A critical theory will show the problems with these theories, and explain how to move past them. Habermas does not do this, because he accepts Daniel Bell's thesis of 'end of ideology.' Theories are now just different standpoints from which we view the same content, not reflections of that content itself. Again, a bit more 'consciousness philosophy' would have led Habermas to see that this separation of form and content - which he sees as a key moment of modernism - is theoretically untenable.
* On a somewhat more obvious level, this was a theory designed for a welfare-state world. This world collapsed just as these volumes were being published in German. Habermas himself said, in an interview around the time they were being published, that this work assumed such a welfare state world ("The Dialectics of Rationalization," in 'Telos'). The disappearance of that world made it clear that 'power' was no more than a handmaiden to 'money.' The best recent work of critical theory, Postone's book mentioned above, makes this argument very well.
That's all substantive stuff. On a less high-falutin' level, this book is horrifically written, spends far too much time summarizing previous sociological theories, and shows a frankly bizarre addiction to unnecessary, quasi-scholastic hair-splitting. For those interested in critical theory, I recommend reading the 'intermediate reflections' and 'concluding reflections.' Otherwise, it's like reading a freshman-comp paper written by a staggering genius.
Read information about the authorJürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and American pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his work on the concept of the public sphere, the topic of his first book entitled The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. His work focuses on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics—particularly German politics. Habermas's theoretical system is devoted to revealing the possibility of reason, emancipation, and rational-critical communication latent in modern institutions and in the human capacity to deliberate and pursue rational interests.
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