Monday, September 9, 2013

cultivating humanity

I want to recycle a favorite quote from Habermas: the closing paragraphs of JH’s lecture “The Idea of the University,” 1986 (citation follows the quote). Here I’m splitting apart the passage from that lecture and numbering the parts, for the sake of later reference.

This is basically one continuous passage—one continuous period of his presentation—from his lecture. But I’ve edited out some short parts in order to emphasize a sense of
the progressive practicality of higher education which philosophy after metaphysicalism may serve. An implicit ethos for me is that the efficacy of higher education (with its research enterprises) leads prospects for generalized Good (human development, healthy regions, ethical industrial development, political ethics, sustainable planet, etc.).

Habermas highlights 14 aspects... 

1 | ...the unity of research and teaching, the unity of science and scholarship with general education, the unity of science and scholarship with enlightenment, and the unity of the scientific and scholarly disciplines.

2 | Of course,...the openly differentiated multiplicity of the scientific and scholarly disciplines no longer represents as such the medium that can tie all those functions together....

3 | [T]he learning processes that take place within the university not only enter into an exchange with the economy and administration but also stand in an inner relationship to the functions through which the lifeworld reproduces itself.

4 | These learning processes extend beyond professional preparation to make a contribution to general processes of socialization by providing training in the scientific mode of thought, that is, in the hypothetical attitude toward facts and norms;

5 | they go beyond the production of expert knowledge to make a contribution to intellectual enlightenment with their informed political stands on concrete issues;

6 | they go beyond reflection on fundamental issues and questions of methodology to contribute to the hermeneutic continuation of tradition through the humanities,

7 | and to the self-understanding of the scientific and scholarly disciplines within the whole of culture through theories of science and scholarship, morality, art, and literature.

8 | It is the organization of scientific and scholarly learning processes in university form that continues to root the differentiated specialized disciplines in the lifeworld by fulfilling these various functions simultaneously.... [....]

9 | ...I seriously believe that in the last analysis it is the communicative forms of scientific and scholarly argumentation that hold university learning processes in their various functions together....

10 | The scientific and scholarly disciplines were [in the 19th century] constituted within specialized internal public spheres, and they can maintain their vitality only within these structures.

11 | The specialized internal public spheres come together and branch off again in the university’s organized public events[..., such as] lectures, seminars, and scientific and scholarly cooperation among working groups at institutes affiliated with the university....

12 | They are all sustained by the stimulating and productive forces of a discursive debate that carries with it the promissory note of the surprising argument. The doors stand open; at any moment a new viewpoint may emerge, a new idea appear unexpectedly.

13 | [However,] I do not want to repeat the mistake of [the history of the idea of the university, of] characterizing the communication community of researchers as something exemplary [for society as a whole]. The egalitarian and universalistic content of its forms of argumentation expresses only the norms of scientific and scholarly activity, not those of society as a whole.

14 | But they share emphatically in the communicative rationality in whose forms modern societies, that is, societies which are not fixed once and for all and which have no guiding images, must reach an understanding about themselves.”

[Presented 1986 in a Heidelberg lecture series honoring the 600th anniversary of the founding of the University of Heidelberg, translated in The New Conservatism, MIT Press, 1989 pp. 122, 124, 125]

This was a primary inspiration for my discussion, 2004, “doing theory & practice: a manifold of interfaces,” which was overtly motivated by JH’s last chapter of Truth and Justification, 2003/1999: “The Relationship between Theory and Practice Revisited,” which was profoundly visited in his monumental (to me at the time, 1973) “Introduction” to Theory and Practice, “Some Difficulties in the Attempt to Link Theory and Practice” (1971), which had a lasting effect on my desire for practicality in academic philosophy.

This posting is associated with the “good thinking” area of