Universal and transcendental pragmatics

Joachim Leilich
Table of contents

The work of Jürgen Habermas is normally regarded as a continuation of the movement of critical theory. With Horkheimer and Adorno, the founding fathers of critical theory, Habermas shares the interest in the combination of sociological theory with philosophy and a strong attitude against positivistic tendencies in the social sciences (Adorno 1969). More than other members of the movement of critical theory Habermas concentrated himself upon metatheoretical questions, an interest which is especially manifest in Habermas (1968, 1970). In the development of these interests a main focus of Habermas’ work came to lie on the notion of ‘interaction’. Starting from the hypothesis that language and communication play an important role in the coordination of actions of individuals, Habermas developed his program of ‘universal pragmatics’. The first effort in this direction was Habermas (1971). The main ideas of this paper were later, accompanied by metatheoretical reflections, worked out in Was heißt Universalpragmatik (Habermas 1976). The connection between this idea of universal pragmatics with sociological theory Habermas elaborated in critical discussions with sociologists like Weber, Durkheim, Parsons and early critical theory in his voluminous Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns (1981), and looking back upon his intellectual development in the introduction to the first volume of his Philosophische Texte (2009).

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