November 18, 2006
Habermas’ (2004) in “Time of Transition” declared that Judaeo-Christian-centred liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, civilisation are exclusively essential to civil society. What about Islamic, Buddhist or indigenous philosophies? Quebec, Canada’ most multiethnic high school political philosophy class answer back.
Abstract: Habemas’ Judaeo-Christian-centred communicative theories meet saavy, enlightened, extremely multiethnic Quebec students: Habermas’ (2004) declaration that Judaeo-Christian-centred liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, civilisation make intercultural understanding, it is what makes it possible What happens to 18th century Enlightenment concepts of civil society in a postnational public sphere, where Habermas’ concepts and theories, developed in the 1960s and popularized in the 1980s meet a saavy, enlightened, extremely multiethnic highschool political philosophy class in a fractured nation-state (Quebec) within a fractured nation-state (Canada) in a knowledge-risk society?
This is a stub of a discussion which I will develop over the next few months instigated by this article in Le Devoir. Google now offers a service whereby anything on the web can be instantly translated. So this is Google’s English translation of Dubreuil’s original article in the French-language newspaper Le Devoir. Nothing compares to reading an author in their own languages of preference. While this Google service is probably not a perfect solution for discussions on political philosophy where one word can be the topic of an entire body of work, it is at least a way into this fascinating and timely debate. Maureen Flynn-Burhoe, November 19, 2006. To be continued . . .
Dubreuil, Benoît. 2006. “Le Devoir de Philo – Habermas et la classe de Mme. Lise,” Le Devoir, Quebec, Canada. November 19, 2006. http://www.ledevoir.com/2006/11/18/123119.html . Accessed 2006/11/19.
Habermas, Jürgen. (2004) Time of Transition.
I am convinced that Derrida’s more inclusive theories on political philosophy as revealed in his writings particularly in the 1990s onwards, are more useful in a philosophy from a cosmopolitical point of view. It is evident that any dialogues on human rights, democracy, hospitality, friendship, civil society need to be inclusive. Habermas’ contributions as public intellectual, political philosopher who brought difficult topics to the public through mass media will continue to be topical, relevant and useful. But truly useful additions to the urgent conversations about social inclusion, social justice, economic efficiency, globalization need to be undertaken with a level of hospitality and friendship that Jacques Derrida (who acknowledged his own status as marano, a French-Jewish-Algerian) exemplified in his discussions with Arabo-Islamic scholars. There is indeed an urgency for inclusive conversations hospitable to Bhuddism, Arabo-Islamic, Baha’i, First Nations, Inuit, indigenous points of view.
A partial chronology of a debate on political philosophy
The following is a draft of a Chronology I am developing as background for Habermas-Derrida debates in political philosophy.
18th century coffee houses: “Jürgen Habermas wrote extensively on the concept of the public sphere, using accounts of dialogue that took place in coffee houses in 18th century England. It was this public sphere of rational debate on matters of political importance, made possible by the development of the bourgeois culture centered around coffeehouses, intellectual and literary salons, and the print media that helped to make parliamentary democracy possible and which promoted Enlightenment ideals of equality, human rights and justice. The public sphere was guided by a norm of rational argumentation and critical discussion in which the strength of one’s argument was more important than one’s identity.” Wiki
Habermas built the framework out of the speech-act philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, and John Searle, the sociological theory of the interactional constitution of mind and self of George Herbert Mead, the theories of moral development of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg, and the discourse ethics of his Heidelberg colleague Karl-Otto Apel. Jürgen Habermas considers his own major achievement the development of the concept and theory of communicative reason or communicative rationality, which distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of either the cosmos or the knowing subject. This social theory advances the goals of human emancipation, while maintaining an inclusive universalist moral framework. This framework rests on the argument called universal pragmatics – that all speech acts have an inherent telos (the Greek word for “purpose” or “goal”) — the goal of mutual understanding, and that human beings possess the communicative competence to bring about such understanding.
Xxxx Kant the Enlightenment and of democratic socialism Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) carried forward the traditions of Kant through his emphasis on the potential for transforming the world and arriving at a more humane, just, and egalitarian society through the realization of the human potential for reason, in part through discourse ethics. While Habermas concedes that the Enlightenment is an “unfinished project,” he argues it should be corrected and complemented, not discarded.
19xx Ludwig Wittgenstein developed his speech-act philosophy which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality.
19xx George Herbert Mead developed his theory of sociological theory of the interactional constitution of mind and self which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality
19xx Jean Piaget developed his theories of moral development which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality
19xx Lawrence Kohlberg developed his theories of moral development which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality.
1956 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) burst onto the German intellectual scene in the 1950s with an influential critique of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. He had been studying philosophy and sociology under the critical theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno at the Institute for Social Research at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main since 1956, but because of a rift over his dissertation between the two – Horkheimer had made unacceptable demands for revision – as well as his own belief that the Frankfurt School had become paralyzed with political skepticism and disdain for modern culture – he took his Habilitation in political science at the University of Marburg under the Marxist Wolfgang Abendroth. Wiki
1961 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) became a privatdozent in Marburg, and very unusual in the German academic scene at that time, he was called to an “extraordinary professorship” (professor without chair) of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg (at the instigation of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Karl Löwith) in 1962.
1964, Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) returned to Frankfurt to take over Horkheimer’s chair in philosophy and sociology, strongly supported by Adorno. wiki
1981 ??? Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) published his magnum opus, The Theory of Communicative Action. Habermas then returned to his chair at Frankfurt and the directorship of the Institute for Social Research. In his magnum opus Theory of Communicative Action (1984) he criticized the one-sided process of modernization led by forces of economic and administrative rationalization. Habermas traced the growing intervention of formal systems in our everyday lives as parallel to development of the welfare state, corporate capitalism and the culture of mass consumption. These reinforcing trends rationalize widening areas of public life, submitting them to a generalizing logic of efficiency and control. As routinized political parties and interest groups substitute for participatory democracy, society is increasingly administered at a level remote from input of citizens. As a result, boundaries between public and private, the individual and society, the system and the lifeworld are deteriorating. Democratic public life only thrives where institutions enable citizens to debate matters of public importance. He describes an ideal type of “ideal speech situation“, where actors are equally endowed with the capacities of discourse, recognize each other’s basic social equality and speech is undistorted by ideology or misrecognition. wiki
1980s??? Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) distanced himself from the Frankfurt School. Habermas argued that the Frankfurt School theorists, and others he lumped together as much of postmodernistists, who critiqued Kant, the Enlightenment, the concept of progress and of democratic socialism, were misdirected, excessively pessimism, radical and prone to exaggerations.
1980s Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) became a renowned public intellectual as well as a scholar.
1980s Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) used the popular press to attack historians (i.e., Ernst Nolte, Michael Stürmer and Andreas Hillgruber) who, arguably, had tried to demarcate Nazi rule and the Holocaust from the mainstream of German history, explain away Nazism as a reaction to Bolshevism, and partially rehabilitate the reputation of the Wehrmacht (German Army) during World War II. The so-called Historikerstreit (“Historians’ Quarrel”) was not at all one-sided, because Habermas was himself attacked by scholars like Joachim Fest and Klaus Hildebrand.
1980s Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) and Jacques Derrida engaged in somewhat acrimonious disputes beginning in the 1980s and culminated in a refusal of extended debate and talking past one another. Following Habermas’ publication of “Beyond a Temporalized Philosophy of Origins: Derrida” (in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity), Derrida, citing Habermas as an example, remarked that, “those who have accused me of reducing philosophy to literature or logic to rhetoric … have visibly and carefully avoided reading me”
1993 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) retired from Frankfurt and continued to publish extensively. He is also a Permanent Visiting Professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
1997 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) photo on the cover of William Outhwaite’s (1997) Habermas, – en kritisk introduktion. Bogen gennemgår alle væsentlige titler i forfatterskabet, fra de tidlige bøger om videnskab, politik og offentlig meningsdannelse i det kapitalistiske samfund til de seneste arbejder om retssystemets rolle i den demokratiske stat. photos
2001 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) visited the People’s Republic of China in April 2001 and received a big welcome. He gave numerous speeches under titles such as “Nation-States under the Pressure of Globalisation.”
2004 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-), wrote in regards to his views on secularism and religion in the European public sphere, in his essay (2004) Time of Transition, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilisation.” He also maintains that “recognising our Judaeo-Christian roots more clearly not only does not impair intercultural understanding, it is what makes it possible.”  Jürgen Habermas had his photo taken with with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
2005 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) traveled to San Diego and on March 5, 2005, as part of the University of San Diego‘s Kyoto Symposium, gave a speech entitled The Public Role of Religion in Secular Context, regarding the evolution of separation of Church and State from neutrality to intense secularism. He received the 2005 Holberg International Memorial Prize (about € 520 000).
XXXX Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) More recently, Habermas has been outspoken in his opposition to the American invasion of Iraq.
2006 wiki photo taken
2006 “The reflexion of Habermas joined the remarks of Jacques Godbout, who worried recently (Topicality, September 1, 2006) about the multiplication of the parabolic aerials allowing the immigrants to remain connected permanently on the television of their country of origin and never to be integrated into Québécois public space. Some, like the playwright Olivier Khemed (the Duty, September 12, 2006), saw in this comment a form of arabophobie. However, the question deserves to be put! Can there really be a public space when the citizens adopt profiles radically different in their consumption from cultural goods? The diagnosis drawn up by Godbout is undoubtedly partial, but he recalls us that we do not know anything in Quebec mode consumption cultural goods by the immigrant populations. Are their principal channels of integration to the Québécois democracy TQS, VAT and Radio-Canada or rather CTV, CNN and Al-Jazira? We do not know anything of it since there is not any serious study on this question. (Dubreuil 2006)” (Dubreuil, Benoît (2006), “Le Devoir de Philo – Habermas et la classe de Madame Lise,” Le Devoir, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. November 19, 2006. http://www.ledevoir.com/2006/11/18/123119.html , Édition du samedi 18 et du dimanche 19 novembre 2006
xxxx Noted academic John Thompson, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, has pointed out that Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) notion of the public sphere is antiquated due to the proliferation of mass-media communications. wiki
Xxxx Noted academic Michael Schudson from the University of California, San Diego critiques the work of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) arguing more generally that a public sphere as a place of purely rational independent debate never existed. wiki
Xxxx “Quite distinct from this, Geoffrey Bennington, a close associate of Derrida’s, has in a further conciliatory gesture offered an account of deconstruction intended to provide some mutual intelligibility. Derrida was already extremely ill by the time the two had begun their new exchange, and the two were not able to develop this such that they could substantially revisit previous disagreements or find more profound terms of discussion before Derrida’s death. Nevertheless, this late collaboration has encouraged some scholars to revisit the positions, recent and past, of both thinkers, vis-a-vis the other.” wiki
Xxxx “What would say Jürgen Habermas of the Class of Mrs Lise? In her superb documentary, the director Sylvie Groulx follows during one year a class of first year to the school Barthelemy-Vimont, in the district Park-Extension, in Montreal. This school, attended with 95% by children of immigrant origin, is most multiethnic in Quebec. The documentary one testifies to the difficulties to which facefaces Quebec as regards integration of the immigrants and famous with wonder what it is advisable to call our “school apartheid”. By looking at the Class of Mrs Lise, it is difficult not to wonder which Quebec are integrated these children. Do we divide with them a common world? Do we take part in the same public space?” (Dubreuil 2006)” (Dubreuil, Benoît (2006), “Le Devoir de Philo – Habermas et la classe de Madame Lise,” Le Devoir, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. November 19, 2006.http://www.ledevoir.com/2006/11/18/123119.html, Édition du samedi 18 et du dimanche 19 novembre 2006
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November 4, 2006
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“Here was a scientist, trained in the traditions of European rational inquiry, turning a meeting between two human beings into an encounter between different species. Progress may be a contested concept, but we make progress to the degree that we act upon the moral intuition that Dr. Pannwitz was wrong: our species is one, and each of the individuals who compose it is entitled to equal moral consideration. Human rights is the language that systematically embodies this intuition, and to the degree that this intuition gains influence over the conduct of individuals and states, we can say that are making moral progress.[...] Human rights was a response to Dr. Pannwitz, to the discovery of the abomination that could occur when the Westphalian state was accorded unlimited sovereignity, when citizens of that state lacked normative grounds to disobey legal but immoral orders. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a return by the European tradition to its natural law heritage, a return intended to restore agency, to give individuals the civic courage to stand up when the state ordered them to do wrong.”(Ignatieff 2001)
My emerging folksonomy:
This linear page entitled Memory Work will be a site of collecting and sharing focused research on the urgently needed on the concept of memory work. This concept was developed by Ricoeur, Derrida, Cixous, Nora. It is urgently need in a postnational, post-WW II, post-apartheid, post-RCAP world where citizens move closer to reconciliation, towards forgiveness or apologies, while revisiting distorted histories with an attitude of mutual respect for Self and the Other-I.
Filed in Creative Commons, CulturalAnthropology, del.icio.us, flickr, folksonomy, Memory Work, Philosophy, slow world, Social Justice, Tag Clouds, Technology. Mind and Consciousness, visualizations, wikipedia
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October 14, 2006
|I used AdobePhotoshop to digitally insert my own image onto the reflective surface of Leonie’s eyes. Black Pupil as Mirror: the Other-Eye (2004) is from my Flickr album.|
I am using the free tools of cyberspace to tag, geotag, reference and categorize in an attempt to find myself by mapping where I have been and maybe contributing to an emerging organic taxonomy in the process. I am fortunate enough to have a monitor, a mouse and access to metablogging.
Before I went on leave from my studies, I was investigating the work of artists, political philosophers, theorists, anthropologists who had taken the ethical turn. There was already a call for a sociological imagination from a postnational point of view. The more I read the more it seemed public policy analysts, journalists, artists, rights workers, cultural workers, anyone involved in teaching, learning and research … could benefit from at least engaging — if only to disagree — with the arguments put forth. But these thinkers are part of the slow world. It takes time to read with a high tolerance for ambiguity. Most of these writers need to be read as we read hypertext. For someone already aware of their references their is no need to click on the hotword. For most of us we need to follow the links through a virtual labyrinth. It’s a way of reading that is in that liminal space between browsing and searching. I often felt like a detective looking for clues. It wasn’t enough for me to finally reach some heightened understanding of an argument or concept. I wanted it to be traceable so I could follow my own paths back and help someone else see the strength, utility and/or elegance of a thought. Or even to help me find it again so I could appreciate it anew. I had the advantage of a lifelong connection to the visual arts. I could picture the ideas. I am so grateful that there are these tools now that allow us to create these shareable mind maps. Rob Shields had suggested I introduce students in my Off-Campus Aboriginal Program to the concept of dialogism. Dialogism is more respectful of the other and therefore offers the potential for a more ethical relationship between Self and the Other. Bakhtin described this as the relationship between Self and the Other-I. I have played with that idea visually by using reflections, people mirrored in the eyes of others. Leonie’s eyes are particular good for this because they are so dark and reflective.
However, as discussed in chapter four above, Bakhtin’s Hermeneutik is of a distinctive character. Whilst he acknowledges the embeddedness of ‘Being’ or Dasein in tradition and in history, he does not shy away from the Marxian conclusion that modern society is riven with antagonistic material interests and that, accordingly, language can be seen as a medium of dissimulation and domination as much as a conduit of interpersonal communication and self-understanding. In drawing such a conclusion, Bakhtin sides with Habermas against Gadamer on this issue; yet, with certain provisos, he refuses the former’s recourse to a nomothetic or generalizing social science to justify the conduct of critique. In this he subscribes to Goethe’s famous dictum that ‘theory is grey but life is green’. To justify his particular interpretive stance, Bakhtin appeals to distinct ethical or moral standards which owe much to the tradition of German idealism (especially Kant) and as Clarke and Holquist point out, to certain theological/ religious idioms (such as Russian orthodoxy and the Jewish dialogical tradition of Buber, Levinas and others)” (Gardiner 1992:192).
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October 4, 2006
Memory work has an ethical and historical dimension.
“How do we confront that which we have excluded in order to be, whether it is the return of the repressed or the return of the strangers? (Kristeva 1982)”
In her brilliant article entitled “The Unbearable Strangeness of Being; Edgar Reitz’s Heimat and the Ethics of the Unheimlich” Barbara Gabriel (2004) provides a model for reading the complexities of memory and forgetting by situating unheimlich within the heimlich, in a Freudian ‘one within the other structure’. She develops the concept of an impulse towards national memory work in Germany that stemmed from a haunted subject yearning for a lost, far away, nostalgic place, a utopian homeland. In other words, that which we fear as ‘other’ is within ourselves through our shared humanity. Repressed memories haunt all of us.