Jürgen Habermas (born June 18, 1929 in Düsseldorf) is a German philosopher, political scientist and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory. His work focuses on the analysis of advanced capitalist industrial society and of democracy and the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics.
He is best known for his concept of the public sphere. He developed a theoretical system committed to disclosing the possibility of reason, human liberation and rational-critical communication embedded in modern liberal institutions and in the human capabilities to communicate, deliberate and pursue rational interests. Habermas's theory 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.
[...] As Habermas puts it: "Our investigation presents a stylized picture of the liberal elements of the bourgeois public sphere and of their transformation in the social-welfare state." The book's historical optic grounds it in the Institute for Social Research's endeavor of developing a critical theory of the contemporary era, and its political aspirations position it as a critique of the decline of democracy in the present age and a call for its renewal themes that would remain central to Habermas's thought. [...]
[...] Habermas, The Inclusion of the Other, p.257 In his own summary: “Legality can produce legitimacy only to the extent that the legal order reflexively responds to the need for justification that originates from the positivization of law and responds in such a manner that legal discourses are institutionalized in ways made pervious to moral argumentation.” Habermas, Law and Morality, 243-4 Habermas wants democracy not for instrumental reasons, but because it is only democratic institutions that can sustain a culture of justification. [...]
[...] Cambridge: Polity Press 2005 Habermas, J., The Theory of Communicative Rationality, Vol.1: Reason and Rationalisation in Society, Cambridge: Polity Press 1984 Holub, R.C., Jürgen Habermas Critic in the Public Sphere. Routledge 1991 Kellner, D., Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/habermas.htm Luhmann, N., “Quod Omnis Tangit: Remarks on Jürgen Habermas's Legal Theory”, in M. Resenfeld, Habermas on Law and Democracy: Critical Exchanges. Berkeley: University of California Press 1998, pp.157-172 and by Habermas, pp.448-452 Manin, B., Legitimacy and Political Deliberation” Political Theory pp.338-68 Marshall Soules 2001 http://www.mala.bc.ca/~soules/media301/habermas.htm Peters, J.D., Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication. [...]
[...] The result of such discussion would be public opinion in the sense of a consensus about the common good. It was this public sphere of rational debate, that helped to make parliamentary democracy possible and which promoted Enlightenment ideals of equality, human rights and justice, and which established a judicial system that was to mediate between claims between various individuals or groups, or between individuals and groups and the state. In his early study of politics, Habermas defended principles of popular sovereignty, formal law, constitutionally guaranteed rights, and civil liberties as part of his conception of the public sphere. [...]
[...] Then social question” came to the force, society was polarized by class struggle, and the public fragmented into a mass of competing interest groups. The deformation of the public sphere also affects the legislature, as if becomes an arena for staged displays aimed at persuading the masses rather than forums for critical debate among their members. II/ The role of the public sphere in Habermas's theory of law and democracy As seen, the full utopian potential of the bourgeois conception of the public sphere was never realized in practice. [...]
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