File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0011, message 61

Subject: Re: HAB: Third rock from the Sun
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 10:45:33 

Dear Martin,

Thank you for your clarification of several points. I wouldn't worry about 
or apologise for any under-explanation:

>Reviewing your questions, it caught my attention that I might have been
>carried away in my post of last night. Lots of insights, mostly
>unexplained... Now I'll try to stick to the clearest I can be.

This process of fusing horizons which we have engaged with actually 
illuminates quite nicely the pragmatics of communication which I think Ken 
and Steve were pointing to. There is an element of communicative endurance 
to our practical discourse.

I am not any sort of Rorty expert ( much less a Heideggerian expert) but it 
appears that the contradiction you raise here mirrors the tensions implicit 
in Heidegger's species specific *umwelt(ian)* perspectivalism.

The disagreement I would raise with Rorty stems from the unsaid 
acknowledgement that his critique of essentialism - for example - is but ONE 
OTHER world view out there in the market place of ideas, and equally liable 
to the pragmatic considerations imposed by Rorty over other philosophical 
creeds. There seem to be fairly close similarities between our positions 

>Anyhow, this is how I can very briefly put it. The contradiction I see is
>this: how can Rorty justify his position? How can he argue for his position
>being the good one? All he does is appealing to a consensus he detects in
>the community of philosophers. But that's clearly not enough, since 
>the strength of this consensus in real life, we suspect that Rorty will
>still believe in his position being the good one. But let's put this
>justification problem aside. What about his ethical grounding? Why should 
>stick only to our own community and be modest when traveling to others? It
>must be that we can say to others that this is the way to do it. But how 
>we say that and maintain our modesty at the same time? I think that most of
>Rorty's arguments in favor of ethnocentrism are self-defeating, even if I
>agree with his call for modesty and his plea for tolerance.
>So, my question was, how can we make sense of radical pluralism (where
>objectivity is out of order) without falling in Rorty's contradictions? I
>once heard an expos on Nelson Goodman that almost convinced me, so I'm
>leaving this open.


>I think it is unfair to speak about Habermas' conservatism. Conservatism of
>the Lifeworld??? That is surely a completely different sense of the term
>than what I'm used to. If this term is used to criticize Habermas, it needs
>a lot of qualification, because just saying that is a too easy accusation.
>Now I would agree that Habermas is much more a reformist than he was, but 
>is the world that we live in.

I guess I am merely trying to raise interesting issues here, Martin. And to 
a greater degree they are pedantic points. My apologies. On the one hand 
Habermas does appear to stand *conservatively* in defence of the Lifeworld 
against the unbalanced rationalisation by the Systemworld media of money and 

On other hands (sic) he will use the term *conservative* ( as in the Young 
Conservatives)in a perjorative manner.

Again my interest here lays in Habermas's characterisation of the dynamics 
of social evolution, the role played by social movements, as well as the 
role played by the production of (critical) social theory in the development 
of newer normative structures. This is why I find the _PDM_ such a 
fascinating collection of essays. The polemical tone of Habermas's responses 
to Derrida & Foucault - which is presaged in the _TCA_ - begs all sorts of 
questions about how Habermas would suggest we identify which available 
social learnings are better than others.

I realise this is simplistic, however, the thrust of Habermas's dispute with 
Derrida and Foucault, for example, is as much reliant upon the exposition of 
immanent contradictions within their *philosophies* as it is on the 
usefulness of their analyses to the promotion of political agendas engaged 
in the corruption of traditional communicative practices.

I am given to wonder whether a case cannot be made that Habermas 
transgresses his own standards of discourse rationality here. As well this 
returns me to the point of earlier posts on the trialling by intense 
examination of competing social-theoretic paradigms, which Habermas has 
regularly engaged in, and which reminded me of Popper's evolutionary 

I realise this is a cheap shot, but JH's point here is a philosopher's 
insight. That is, a philosopher can make a very good case that communication 
proceeds on the basis of the rationality immanent to our linguistic 
practice. In the practice of practical discourse the *seldom redeemed claim 
to reason* is pretty much NEVER considered. Can it be said to be taken for 
granted IF no one (other than mad Habermasians & Apelians) recognise its 

>First, it is effectively the way we work, that we make certain
>presuppositions in order to communicate...


>But I wonder if the hypothetic argument does not
>make things look interesting: *if* one uses language communicatively, 
>he has to make certain presuppositions.


>It is about a structure that we design, and no
>essence/necessity/nature/controversial metaphysics or whatever has to >be 

Again Martin, I am in need of a degree of further explication ( my 
apologies). Who are the *we* in the above quote. Is is a post-conventional 

Thank you

Matthew Piscioneri

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