New Directions in the Humanities’s Updates

Critique and communication: Philosophy's missions

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Photographer: Wolfram Huke, under Creative Common License CC-BY-SA-3.0 | Article Link | Michaël Fœssel

A conversation with Jürgen Habermas

Decades after first encountering Anglo-Saxon perspectives on democracy in occupied postwar Germany, Jürgen Habermas still stands by his commitment to a critical social theory that advances the cause of human emancipation. This follows a lifetime of philosophical dialogue.

Michaël Foessel: It has become commonplace to link your work to the enterprise that the Frankfurt School initiated in the 1930s: the elaboration of a critical theory of society capable of breathing new life into the project of emancipation in a world shaped by technocapitalism. When you began your university studies after World War II, a different image of philosophy was prevalent in Germany: the less heroic image of an impotent philosophy compromised by National Socialism. What motivated you to choose this discipline? Did the pessimistic judgement on reason expressed in Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment play a role in your initial choices in philosophy (the study of Schelling)?