File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0004, message 35

Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 12:48:39 -0700
Subject: Re: HAB: Modernity and impoverishment of life-world

Dear LA. Let me hazard the following answer.

1. Let me know the page in the German and I will look it and see the context.
This will allow me to me more precisely with my answer. But while I wait for
the page reference, let me venture the following.

2. The separation of value spheres leads to a de-metaphysicalization of our
standards of reason. Modernity means the de-substanializaiton of rational
standards. To be modern, in other words, means to seek reasons in procedure
not in being, or the order of things itself. This is what Habermas means by
post-metaphysical. So, he is both a Weberian and a Kantian (and this is why he
likes Rawls, of course).

But your question is not about this, your question concerns with the Ver=F6dung
of the life-world. This is not to be taken in a pejorative sense, but
rather in
a positive sense. The life-world is not bereft of reason. It is however
vacuated, or eviscerated, or a certain type of rationality (the rationality
imposed by a metaphysical world view that sought to harmonize abstract,
instrumental and practical rationality into one, i.e Aristotelian or Natural
Law metaphysics).

That the world is not suffussed by a metaphysical reason is a good thing. This
is our liberation. And therein  lies the incompleteness of the project of
modernity, again which is to be read as a good thing. What Habermas means is
that given that we can not read the rationality of the world from nature
itself, or some sort of integrated world-society-self, we are left with the
acquisition of rational competencies that allow us to deal with each sphere
separately and appropriately: when dealing with nature, use a particular type
of rationality, when dealing with humans, use another. etc.

>From another angle, take postconventional morality, which is a distinctive
characteristic of modernity, if not its sine qua non. To be postconventioanlly
moral means we seek reasons in procedures, and not substanive moral views.
is an achievement, and one we ought to expand by organizing societies in which
our ability to deliberate on our moral principles is given primacy, over
dogmatic and authoritatian moral legislation.

It is precisely this desolation of the lifeworld by substantive ratioanitly
to the separation of value spheres that allows Habermas to talk about the
colonization of the life world by systems level (which operate according to
instrumental and strategic reason). The life world becomes the horizon in
humans persue reason without the burden of instrumentalization and strategic
rationalization, but in accordance with communicative reason, which is guided
by the telos of understanding. So, formalization and professionalization, as
well as bureacratization, of the life world are necessary but only insofar as
they open up the way for greater processes of communicative rationality. This
is how I read BN (Between Facts and Norms)...rationalization through
juridification at the service of understanding, or intersubjective freedom.

In short, the disenchantment of the world brought about by the rationalization
of the life world should be something to be celebrated, of course, if we
undertand that this rationalization is a condition of possiblity for the
of postconventional cognitive and moral competencies.

Hope this helps.

At 12:54 AM 4/18/00 +0100, you wrote:
> Hi,
> With a slight uncertainty about a particular aspect in my project on
> Habermas's idea of modernity, I'm hoping someone on this fine list might be
> might be able to offer some advice.
> From my reading, Habermas regards modernity as an "unfinished project", in
> which religious and metaphysical Weltbilder with their substantial reasons
> (separated in truth, normative rightness, authenticity or the beautiful) are
> in the process of disintegration. This results in a differentiation of the
> value-spheres: into sciences, morals and arts. Consequently this leaves
> society with a threat of impoverishment of the communicative capacity of
> life-world.
> [1986 Vorstudien und Erg=E4nzungengen zur Theorie des kommunikativen
> The point of my question is, how does this Ver=F6dung, or impoverishment, come
> about and how does it expresses itself? What are the implications of this
> Habermas's life-world, apart from the increasing professionalsation of
> knowledge? I don't seem to be able to find any appropriate readings? Could
> you point me to some sources, or have your any suggestions or comments?
> Cheers
> LA
>      --- from list ---

Eduardo Mendieta
Assistant Professor
Philosophy Department
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080

Tel: (415) 422-6313
Fax: (415) 422-2346


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