📰 Jürgen Habermas

Author: plato.stanford.edu

Full Title: Jürgen Habermas

URL: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/habermas/

Highlights from March 9th, 2021.

Born outside Düsseldorf in 1929, Habermas came of age in postwar Germany. The Nuremberg Trials were a key formative moment that brought home to him the depth of Germany's moral and political failure under National Socialism. This experience was later reinforced when, as a graduate student interested in Heidegger's existentialism, he read the latter's reissued Introduction to Metaphysics, in which Heidegger had retained (or more accurately, reintroduced) an allusion to the “inner truth and greatness” of National Socialism (Heidegger 1959, 199). When Habermas (1953) publicly called for an explanation from Heidegger, the latter's silence confirmed Habermas's conviction that the German philosophical tradition had failed in its moment of reckoning, providing intellectuals with the resources neither to understand nor to criticize National Socialism.
In his description of the salons we clearly see his interest in a communicative ideal that later would provide the core normative standard for his moral-political theory: the idea of inclusive critical discussion, free of social and economic pressures, in which interlocutors treat each other as equals in a cooperative attempt to reach an understanding on matters of common concern.