File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0112, message 26

Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2001 00:38:58 -0800 (PST)
Subject: HAB: Existential reading (re: MattP on JH on Cassier)

--- matthew piscioneri <> wrote:
> Dear Gary,
> For what it is worth, reading Habermas's essay on Cassirer made me 
> reconsider certain comments you made re:the existential reading
> Matustik  developed of the relationship between Habermas's *life*
> Habermas's *philosophy*. By which I mean it is interesting to note
> existentialized  Habermas's reading of Cassirer is.

Hi, Matt.

Interesting comment above.  How existentialized IS JH's reading?  

Matustik used the life of JH to explicate & exhibit the political
thinking of JH, and M characterizes this as an existential project of
interpretation--an existential hermeneutic, one might say.  After
some profiling of Cassier relative to library making, JH addresses
lifeworld issues IN Cassier's work "against a Lebensphilosophie" and
derives a pragmatics in Cassier's thought. How existential is that?
You bring to good question to mind, for me: What's the difference
between existential hermeneutics and hermeneutical reading of a life
(the latter of which JH doesn't appear to be up to anyway--but
correct me, if I'm wrong; I just quickly skimmed the essay for this
response, as the issue of kinds of reading is what's especially
interesting to me at the moment). 

> Which simply raises that most fundamental of all philosophical
> Is what is good for the master, good for the disciple?

Hmm. You're being facetious about what's fundamental, I guess.  But,
of course, you're supposing that the master's reading is good (as a
*master's* reading) and, in this case, AS existential reading. But if
JH's reading IS existential, that could mean that what's bad for the
disciple is bad for the master.  

To what degree is it valid (and it is to *some* degree--but *what*
degree) to hold the life of the writer responsible to the thought? Is
this something like asking: To what degree is public life relevant
to, say, anthropological thought? Is it fair to require the lifeworld
of the philosopher to become an instantiation of its specialized

In Matustik's case, he's inquiring into the life of a philosopher who
makes the relation of political theory to political practice basic to
theory (as JH does), so it's fair to look to the practice of the JH
in understanding his sense of theory and practice (though it can
still be largely unfair to expect the life of the theorist to be an
exemplification of the theory-of-practice, even if it so happens that
JH's life provides plenty of practice to work with. It can be largely
unfair to JH to judge the thought by the life, since one must choose
the private time for scholarship *rather* than time for activism very
often, if a lasting mark in scholarship is to be made, and that isn't
contrary to a philosophy of practice). 

But, like you (in your next posting today, re: "Theory and Praxis"),
I'm not comfortable with the theory/practice distinction; it's
2-dimensionality is not basic for a philosophy (JH's) with a
3-dimensional basis isomorphic across many modes of discourse.
Clearly, though, the same neighborhood of questioning pertains to
both issues [both postings]: (1) existential hermeneutics vs.
hermeneutics of existence [biographical criticism?] and  (2)
theory-of-practice vs.practice-of-theory.

Anyway, merry xmas to you, too (Christmas in summer? Yea, Bondi


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