June 18, 2009
Perhaps JÜRGEN HABERMAS (born 1929) is most dear to us for developing and elaborating over the course of decades an intricately woven Grand Theory founded in the notion that sincere, earnest public discussion is the basis for a well-lived life and a just, well-ordered democracy. Although its historical accuracy has been challenged, we still love Habermas’ first book for bringing into general discourse the notion of the Öffentlichkeit, or public sphere, and its importance in the development of a true deliberative democracy. Having been trained in postwar Germany, Habermas demanded that philosophy grapple with the empirical as well the theoretical. Despite the fights between their adherents during the 1980s, Habermas and Foucault found themselves much aligned in many respects: both believed that one cannot separate life from theory; both worried over the mission creep of modernity into what Habermas would call the Lifeworld. But where Foucault seemed defeated by this, Habermas remains inexhaustibly hopeful about the possibilities of real human communication. Although the café culture may be kaput, in Argonaut Follies, little magazines, fledgling websites, and vigorous bookstore debates lies the hope for the future.
READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).