Saturday, March 15, 2014

a reality of geopolitics: permanent improvisation

part of a project on Habermas and transnationalism

So, Russia vetoes UN Crimea Resolution. What else is new?

Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador, remarks:
This is a sad and remarkable moment. The truth is that this resolution should not have been controversial. It was grounded in principals that provide the foundation for international stability and law—Article 2 of the U.N. Charter—the prohibition on the use of force to acquire territory and respect for sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of member states. These are principals that Russia agrees with and defends vigorously all around the world—except, it seems, in circumstances that involve Russia.

Like the child whose outbursts can ruin a family gathering, if he isn’t pacified, the world’s enmeshment with the Russian economy (largely via Europe) allows Putin to easily threaten financial markets, risking global recoveries, if his adventurism isn’t tolerated.

U.S./E.U. optioning for diplomacy isn’t a choice; it’s the only feasible response to blackmail. Of course, insistence on the power of diplomacy is also exemplary of the “soft power” approach to leadership that attracts Ukraine to the EU. And around the world, one great appeal of democracy is its devotion to soft power. 

on solidarity: culturally-based, not politically

part of Habermas and the EU

The M-W Unabridged Dictionary defines ‘solidarity’ as one might expect: “an entire union of interests and responsibilities in a group : community of interests, objectives, or standards.”

This is not a primarily-political notion, to which Habermas confines the term in his Athens lecture (properly, given his context). Indeed, the English dictionary’s exemplar is Joseph Conrad: “...solidarity that knits together innumerable hearts.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Habermas’ “...Detranscendentalized ‘Use of Reason’”

Habermas’ “From Kant’s ‘Ideas’ of Pure Reason to the ‘Idealizing’ Presuppositions of Communicative Action: Reflections on the Detranscendentalized ‘Use of Reason’” might be the only essay by Habermas that’s been published in English three times, thereby signaling its central importance for representing his philosophical position—which is no surprise: The essay relies on conceptual commitments which span his career; and cites essays by him that had seemed fundamental to the development of his thought. The essay is as difficult to work through as anything he’s done.

I would enjoy discussing this essay with anyone who has thought through it entirely. In particular, I’m interested in JH’s discussion of Davidson in a later section of the essay. You can contact me via the Facebook/Habermas Page or e-mail me

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

pragmatism as progressive realism

A recent article in Politico extendedly characterizes Obama’s leadership as “realist.” Politico invites expert response, resulting first in a ping-pong by Dennis Ross (counselor to Obama) on realism vs. idealism which he labels “pragmatism.”

This is a happy thing. Firstly, Obama was academically pragmatist, literally. Secondly, I’ve long capsulated my sense of pragmatism as a fruitful balancing of idealist and realist perspectives. But that’s just heuristic. In a phrase, my sense of pragmatism is a progressive realism (overtly begging the question of what is the best sense of ‘progressive’; what is the best sense of ‘realism’?). Yet, it gets complicated: