Friday, December 31, 2010

“the” Conversation of Humanity as seminar

webmail to the UC@Berkeley Townsend Humanities Lab “Project in Critical Theory” today:

What is the appeal of Critical Theory in this era? Critique for the sake of what? Is not an emancipatory interest (the critical spirit, so to speak) only cogent in service to developmental interests? Can we make good sense of facilitating our evolution via developmental discourse? Does Habermas’s work show how thinking best moves beyond the dialectical paradigm into more appropriate, developmental modes? What is to be done with the challenging work of Habermas—as a matter of educational philosophy (cognitive-developmental work), a cosmopolitan approach to social evolution (a philosophy of law), and a comprehensive sense of philosophy?—by persons believing that the critical spirit is best sustained by “Critical Theory”?

Inasmuch as the world of 2011 has moved fundamentally beyond the Cold War world motivating Critical Theory (thus its paradigm of inquiry going into this century?), what is the tenability of the Project of Critical Theory philosophically speaking? Does it seem that Habermas is not “critical” enough? Or is Critical Theory becoming an archival endeavor of intellectual historiography rather than a leading edge of vitally-important philosophical thinking? Clearly, Habermas is claiming to provide a practical foundation for critique that the Frankfurt School did not have.

For persons not familiar with Habermas, here’s a beginning (or rather a set of links that contributes to a conversation).

As a neo-Habermasian (at this era of my life), I’ve remained in love with Gadamer’s notion of “the Conversation of Humanity” highlighted at the end of his Truth and Method. What better notion can there be of what the “humanities” are all about?

I think that no one better than Habermas provides a bridge for “Critical Theory” into an appropriate scale of “the” Conversation, an idealizing singularity of discursive inquiry with as much cogency as philosophy itself as legacy of evolving cogency.