Jürgen Habermas is one of the foremost philosophers and social theorists in the world today. But the complexity and breadth of his thought make him often difficult to understand. In this book, Stephen White offers a clear, accessible, and reliable introduction to Habermas's work, particularly that which he has written since the publication of Knowledge and human interest (produced in English in 1971). During this period, new themes and directions have emerged in Habermas's thought, which culminated in The Theory of Communicative Action, a massive work that has not hitherto been the subject of extended commentary and analysis. This book is the first to provide a full-length study of Habermas's mature thought. Locating the latter in the context of contemporary debates, White explains Habermas's ideas about action, rationality, communicative ethics, contemporary capitalism, and new social movements, which characterize his later work. He also examines Habermas's interpretation of modernity, showing that although, like his forerunners in the Frankfurt School, Habermas maintains a critical stance towards modernity's instrumentalization of reason, he nonetheless offers a sophisticated defense of the universal significance of other aspects of modern consciousness that are too often forgotten by many recent radical critics of modernity. Throughout, White presents Habermas's work in such a way as to emphasize its coherence, and to demonstrate how it constitutes the beginnings of a distinctive new research program in the social sciences. As a well-researched and lucid account of Habermas's thought, this book will appeal to readers wanting an introduction to the complexity of his ideas, as well as to those already conversant with them. It will also interest social and political theorists concerned with the general theoretical issues that it covers.
Reviews & endorsements
'White presents a clear and accurate account of Habermas' recent work, most importantly The Theory of Communicative Action. Centering on the notion of communicative rationality, he traces Habermas' elaborate effort to develop a non-foundationalist universalism through all its twists and turns. His discussion of the 'minimal ethics' built into the structure of communication and of the implications of this for a theory of justice is particularly perceptive. His study will be of value to everyone interested in Habermas, beginner and initiate alike.' Thomas McCarthy, Northwestern University
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- Date Published: September 1989
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521389594
- length: 204 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 153 x 12 mm
- weight: 0.306kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
List of abbreviations
1. Rationality, social theory and political philosophy
2. Action, rationality and normative discourse
3. Justice and the foundations of communicative ethics
4. Toward a minimal ethics and orientation for political theory
5. Communicative reason, modernity and contemporary capitalism
6. The two tasks of critical theory
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