Monday, September 17, 2007

Early Habermas on reason and critical theory

Weber's rationalist proclivities nonetheless establish a path to relativism and decisionism.


Adorno and Horkheimer generalise Zweckrationalitat by interweaving it with Marx's alienation and Lukacs's Marxian-Hegelian reification. They approach the Heideggerean (!) concept of "Gestell", enframing. Their dialectics are read as wavering, the priority of negativity read as "totalising" or "generalising," and this shift away from critical social theory is a threat to the explanatory-diagnostic function of Critical Theory. Horkheimer: social critical theory unfolds as a single existential judgement.

Critical theory risks regressing to a kind of post-Left Hegelianism, what Marx and Engels called "critical criticism."

Cf. idealism, charismatic function of immanence.

Knowledge and human interests: quasi-transcendental cognitive interests. They are:

(1) technical --> purposive --> work --> fallibilistic empirical sciences
(2) practical --> communicative --> symbolic interaction --> hermeneutic sciences
(3) emancipatory --> power --> critical sciences

Cf. Aristotle (techne (making, poesis) vs. praxis (assoc. w/ lexis: intersubjective practice).

Technical interest: nomological regularities, fallibilism, dissection of object into dependent and independent variables, negative feedback etc. Habermas is sympathetic with Gadamer's expose against tthe scientism which tacitly presupposed all knowledge to be of this type.

Practical interest: associated with understanding meaning and interpreting texts.

Habermas: meaning and understanding are empty concepts without reconstruction of the validity claims made by participants in meaning.

Hidden positivism (cf. symbolic interactionism) in the claim that we can bracket critical rational evaluation. Cf. Weber's interpretive sociology.

The critical interest is a synthesis.

Technical and pratical interests contain an internal demany for non-coercive communication. Cf. Popper's falsification thesis, and Gadamer's resistance to final closure (cf. hermeneutic circle).

The critical interest gives communicative parameters to the Marxian insistence, "the point is to change it."

Such thought can only advance coevally with the realisation of the social conditions for freer communication.

Self-reflection is the framework which determines the validity of propositions in this category. The subject-object of critical thought has an interest in its emancipation from powers which have become hypostatised as invariants of social action.

Linked w/ Socratic emancipation from doxa through dialogic self-reflection.

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