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A lifeworld without a subject: Habermas and the pathologies of modernity

Bowring, Finn ORCID: 1996. A lifeworld without a subject: Habermas and the pathologies of modernity. Telos 106 , pp. 77-104. 10.3817/1296106077

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Jürgen Habermas has been credited with rescuing Critical Theory from the brink of nihilism. Although he has adopted Max Weber's interest in rationalization, as is well known, he questions Weber's pessimistic view that modernization will inexorably lead to the imprisonment of individuals in meaningless systems of instrumental rationality. Habermas' optimism, however, is not the result of a belief in the irreducible nature of human freedom. Rather, it derives from the more ambitious claim that the linguistic structures of the lifeworld harbor the emancipatory goal of mutual understanding. This linguistic revision of Critical Theory has met considerable criticism. Habermas' optimistic interest in communication rather than praxis, democratic interaction rather than self-determining labor, has often been dismissed as a self-serving attempt to legitimate the de-radicalization of the intellectual Left and conceal its integration into the academic establishment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Date of Acceptance: 21 December 1996
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 11:20

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