File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0003, message 8

Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 12:39:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: HAB: Re: formal pragmatics

(M) What I am trying to work up, is .... a development of Habermas's
communicative rationality more 
deeply within genetic structures - more explicit than universal
competences - in a manner analogous to contemporary theories of

(G) Then, you would be interested in trying to give a realist
foundation ("Habermas's Theory of Communicative Rationality from an
Internal Realist Point of View," _The Linguistic Turn in Hermeneutic
Philosophy_, Cristina Lafont, MIT Press 1999, pp. 283-361) to
transcendental argumentation (_Transcendental Arguments: problems and
prospects_, Robert Stern, ed., Oxford 1999, esp. chs. 13 and 14 on
"content externalism", which includes discussion of Searle's
subjective realist sense of "the construction of social reality"). 

(M) What I am after from better Habermas brains than my own is 
some sort of appraisal of such an approach i.e is this 'genetic'
& morality implied/implicit/left unsaid in Habermas because it is
taken for 
granted that this is what species competences refers to etc

(G) Most subscribers to this list (it seems to me) read Habermas as a
socio-political theorist, rather than as, so to speak, a philosopher
of evolution---even though Habermas's approach to social evolution
(in TCA) anticipates real progress in cognitive anthropological
research, by couching its formulations in terms of our biological and
primate-ive form of life. It seems to me that Habermas is being
prospective in TCA, rather than ontologically committed, in the
spirit of his approach to reconstructive science first formulated in
_Communication & the Evolution of Society_ (where, somewhere there, I
recall, he characterizes his work as an open-ended, fallibilistic
research program, which TCA continues, rather than founds). In the
late 1970s, he was concerned that social theorists didn't appreciate
what he had been trying to begin to do, in the 1970s, and he wanted
to formulate his research program comprehensively for social theory
(and advance it further, as well--which the book does as largely an
exercise in critical hermeneutical reading or discursive interchange
with key Others), rather than give his theory of communicative action
philosophical foundations, beyond what he did in 1975 or so with
"What is [Formal] Pragmatics?". Though the kind of direction you seem
to want to take could be very fruitful, I believe, it is not likely
to be attractive to "Habermasians" who largely (I suppose) find
"genetic" argumentation naturalistic and psychologistic, if not
metaphysicalist. In other words, an (M)"appraisal of such an
approach" puts a great burden on you to make sense of things without
prejudicing your reader against your basic intentions. You're taking
on a discursive burden, relative to Habermas readers, that is quite

(M) I am intending to stick with the TCA, where the foundation for 
Habermas's later discursive ethics program is strongly put in place. 

(G) What about "Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical
Justification," _Moral Consciousness & Communicative Action_, MIT
Press 1990 (German: 1983)?

(M)  I guess I want to go back to the TCA and examine the origins of
the later work.

(G) But Habermas was, there, very much in the middle of his career.
Habermas' "origins" are dispersed through his career, not set in TCA.

(M) investigating at this early stage, I may be able to develop an
approach to 
the later work.

(G) This mid-point. And surely you will be able to develop "an
approach," but will it contribute to the Project of reconstructive
science, in Habermas' collaborative sense of this; or will it
reproduce the thinking of naturalistic tradition? The question is
really open. I'm not prejudging (for I happen to be very sympathetic
with what I perceive you to be endeavoring to do).

Best regards


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