Habermas: A Biography

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Item#: 9780745689067
Author M?ller-Doohm, Stefan
Cover Hardback
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‘JÜrgen Habermas', wrote the American philosopher Ronald Dworkin on the occasion of the great European thinker's eightieth birthday, ‘is not only the world's most famous living philosopher. Even his fame is famous.' Now, after many years of intensive research and in-depth conversations with contemporaries, colleagues and Habermas himself, Stefan MÜller-Doohm presents the first comprehensive biography of one of the most important public intellectuals of our time. From his political and philosophical awakening in West Germany to the formative relationships with Adorno and Horkheimer, MÜller-Doohm masterfully traces the major forces that shaped Habermas's intellectual development. He shows how Habermas's life and work were conditioned by the possibilities offered to his generation in the unique circumstances of regained freedom that characterized postwar Germany. And yet Habermas's career is fascinating precisely because it amounts to more than a corpus of scholarly work, however original and influential that may be. For here is someone who continually left the protective space of the university in order to assume the role of a participant in controversial public debates Ð from the significance of the Holocaust to the future of Europe Ð and in this way sought to influence the development of social and political life in an arena much broader than the academy. The significance and virtuosity of Habermas's many writings over the years are also fully and expertly documented, ranging from his early work on the public sphere to his more recent writings on communicative action, cosmopolitanism and the postnational condition. What emerges from this biography is a vivid portrait of one of the great public intellectuals of our time Ð a unique thinker who has made an immense and lasting philosophical contribution but who, when he perceives that society is not living up to its potential for creating free and just conditions for all, becomes one of its most rigorous and persistent critics.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsAcknowledgementsPrefacePrologue: The Other among his PeersPart I: Catastrophe and EmancipationChapter 1: Disaster Years as Normality. Childhood and Youth in GummersbachBorn in 1929Turning point: 1945Chapter 2: At University in GÖttingen, Zurich and BonnDoctorate on the philosophy of SchellingSpeaking out as a freelance journalistThe beginnings of a career as a public intellectualPart II: Politics and CritiqueChapter 3: Education intellectuelle in CafÉ MarxMutual trust between Habermas and the AdornosHorkheimer's animosities towards the ‘dialectical Mr H.'The ‘most promising intellectual'Chapter 4: Under the Aegis of Conflicting Personalities: Abendroth and GadamerA man of the democratic leftPositions in the dispute over the right form of critique and good politicsChapter 5: Back in Frankfurt. Torn between Academic Work and Political PracticeIn search of an epistemological foundation for critiqueThinking with the protest movement against the protest movementIn the line of fire from his own sideA new track in philosophical thoughtChapter 6: In the Ivory Tower of Social Scientific ResearchBetween Academic Management and ResearchA theory about the impossibility of not learningThe minefield of political interpretations in the ‘German Autumn'ResignationPart III: Science and CommitmentChapter 7: Genius Loci: In Frankfurt for the Third TimeThe major workThe theory of actionSystem and lifeworldEveryday life in FrankfurtChapter 8: New ProjectsUnder the spell of the philosophy of lawMorality and lawChapter 9: Battles over the Politics of IdeasOpinion leader of the new left?The historians' debateHabermas as a sceptic towards reunificationChapter 10: Against Germanomania and NationalismHabermas's ambiguous attitude towards military interventionsThe Asylum DebateA memorial to the murdered JewsPart IV: Cosmopolitan Society and JusticeChapter 11: Critique as a Vocation. The Transition into the Third MillenniumA plea for freedom of the will and the inviolability of the personThe philosopher as globetrotterMany honours and an affairChapter 12: The Taming of Capitalism and the Democratization of EuropeDemocratic politics Ð a counterbalance to capitalism?European integrationOn the way to a democratically constituted world orderChapter 13: Philosophy in the Age of Postmetaphysical ModernityWhat can I know? - Linguistic pragmatics as a form of naturalism and realismWhat should I do? From the demand of virtue to the assumption of rationalityWhat may I hope? Religion in a post-secular societyWhat is Man? Language and IntersubjectivityChapter 14: Books at an ExhibitionConsciousness-Raising and Rescuing CritiqueEpilogue: The Inner CompassNotesAppendixGenealogyChronologyList of Habermas's lectures and seminarsBibliographyList of archivesIllustration creditsIndex