Habermas and the Light of Reason: On Late Critical Theory

August 11, 2019   •   By Martin Jay

The following essay is excerpted from Martin Jay’s book, Reason After Its Eclipse?


IN 1941, the Frankfurt School reluctantly acknowledged the crisis regarding the emphatic concept of reason that was a mainstay of its work for much of the previous decade. An essay by Max Horkheimer published in the final issue of the Institute’s journal was apocalyptically entitled “The End of Reason.” There is a withered residue of reason still left in human behavior, he conceded, but only in its instrumental guise. Throughout the 1940s, Horkheimer desperately attempted to salvage something from the wreckage of reason, which would go beyond its reduction to that pragmatic instrument. But even the end of the war and the defeat of fascism did not lessen his assertion in 1946: that reason itself “today seems to suffer from a kind of disease,” the cure of which is uncertain. Despite its paradoxical implications, the process of Enlightenment must be encouraged. This can only be done by facing the sources of the “self-liquidation of reason,” because “the hope of Reason lies in the emancipation from its own fear of despair.”

Struggling against that fear while not flinching from the despair were the motivations behind Horkheimer’s two subsequent works: Eclipse of Reason (1947) and Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944, 1947), which he wrote jointly with Adorno. Together, they represented the summa of the Frankfurt School’s thesis of the self-liquidation of reason. Critical Theory was thus presented with a genuine dilemma. Not only had Hegel’s historical dialectic — also adopted by Marx — been proven wrong, but reactionary attempts such as neo-Thomism — intended to restore a metaphysical notion of reason that had existed before the fall into instrumentalism, subjectivism, and formalism — were also discredited.

The two most powerful alternatives were developed by Adorno, largely in terms of aesthetic theory, and Habermas, who sought an alternative answer in communicative interaction. Although Habermas came to criticize Adorno’s solution, he acknowledged that Adorno, in comparison to Horkheimer, was more able to keep his composure seeing as he could bring another motif into play with experience facing the aporia of the self-referential critique of reason. He did not solely depend upon the enlightening power of philosophical criticism, but allowed his thinking to circulate within the paradoxes of an identity logic that denies itself and yet illuminates from within. That is, for him the genuine aesthetic experience of modern art had opened up an independent source of insight.

But was art a compelling and sufficient placeholder for that notion of rationality that the early Frankfurt School had placed its hopes in before the eclipse? Did it cede too much ground to the “diseased” version of reason — instrumental, formal, subjective — that Critical Theory had feared was now almost completely hegemonic in the modern world, and as a consequence retreat into a beleaguered aesthetic sanctuary that had little chance of ever expanding its territory? Did it identify any concrete, institutional embodiments outside that enclave that would allow a reading of history as suggesting a more benign rationalization that might challenge the one decried in Dialectic of Enlightenment?

These were the questions that impelled Habermas to seek a radically new foundation for reason itself, hoping to salvage the critical energies of the Enlightenment tradition broadly understood. Habermas’s point of departure, to be sure, was a feeling of solidarity with the earlier Frankfurt School’s yearning — evident in the work of Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse — for a viable concept of reason after its eclipse. No theory that could justifiably call itself critical could dispense with the cognitive insights and normative force that had been developed under the rubric of reason. But unlike the first generation of Critical Theorists, Habermas did not pine for the restoration of anything that might be called objective or substantive reason in the emphatic metaphysical sense of the term. Instead, Habermas boldly promoted a paradigm shift, which, as Herbert Schnädelbach was later to put it, involved “the replacement of the critique of pure reason by the critique of linguistic reason.”

The audacity of this move is hard to gainsay. Ever since the Sophists challenged Plato, thinkers who focused on language were generally skeptical of the claims of reason. In the Enlightenment, critics of Kant like Hans Georg Hamann mobilized all of the poetic resources of language to make it clear that ideas, however internal to the mind they may seem, were always dependent on the medium of their expression. When later critics of rationality like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche mounted their attacks on rationalist Hegelian metaphysics, they drew on the polysemic, rhetorically excessive potential of language to make their points performatively. Habermas, however, turned to language, understood in terms of what he called “universal pragmatics,” to bask in the sunlight of reason as it emerged from its eclipse.

In any account of Habermas’s gradual dissatisfaction with Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse’s concepts of reason, his early empirical study of the bourgeois public sphere, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere of 1962 (translated into English only in 1992!), must thus be accorded a primary role. Summarizing the telos of the bourgeois public sphere, whose implications transcended its class origins, Habermas wrote: “Public debate was supposed to transform voluntas into a ratio that in the public competition of private arguments came into being as the consensus about what was practically necessary in the interest of all.” [1] Here we have a version of the Enlightenment tradition that seemed to escape the dialectic of domination and mastery, self-preservation and self-sacrifice, described with such despair by Horkheimer and Adorno in Dialectic of Enlightenment. Here subjects were not primarily looking at objects in order to dominate them or treating other subjects as objects, but rather addressing other subjects as their equals. Here concepts were not vehicles for the suppression of non-identity and difference. The “disease” of reason had not affected all organs, we might say, of the animal rationale. If there were an aesthetic dimension to this process, it was, contra Adorno, not so much expressed in the work of art itself, as in the public judgment of such works conducted without conformity to pre-given rules or standards.

For a number of years, Habermas’s tacit critique of the first generation on the issue of reason remained somewhat muted. In his seminal essay of 1968, “Technology and Science as 'Ideology’”, he followed their lead in resisting Weber’s split between facts and values and principled abandonment of a substantive notion of reason. At the same time, however, Habermas began to distance himself from the goal of overcoming the human domination of the natural world, based on a new and more benign version of technology, as well as from the dedifferentiation of various value spheres in culture. In his 1968 essay, in fact, Habermas already distinguished between two concepts of rationalization, whose elaboration would preoccupy him for the rest of his career.

At the level of the subsystems of purposive-rational action, scientific technological progress has already compelled the reorganization of social institutions and sectors, and necessitates it on an even larger scale than heretofore. But this process of the development of the productive forces can be a potential for liberation if and only if it does not replace rationality on another level. Rationalization at the level of the institutional framework can occur only in the medium of symbolic interaction itself, that is, through removing restrictions on communication[2]

By the late 1970s, a far more potent threat to the rationalist tradition than positivism had emerged, which broadly speaking came to be called either poststructuralism or postmodernism. Alarmed by its penetration of leftist culture in the wake of Marxism’s decline, Habermas hastily conflated it with the neo-conservative critique of modernity derived from thinkers like Carl Schmitt and Arnold Gehlen, which was feeding the Tendenzwende or turn to the right in German politics of that era. [3] In The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity of 1985, Habermas spelled out more explicitly than ever before the dangers he saw in Horkheimer and Adorno’s one-sided analysis of the crisis of reason. He focused with alarm on their charge that “from the very start the process of enlightenment is the result of a drive to self-preservation that mutilates reason, because it lays claim to it only in the form of a purposive-rational mastery of nature and instinct — precisely as instrumental reason.” [4] Reducing all science and technology to its positivist caricature, ignoring the healthy implications of the differentiation of value spheres noted by Weber, and abandoning their earlier nuanced appreciation of the achievements of bourgeois modernity, they ended by allowing ideology critique to undermine its own foundations. The result was a performative contradiction — critique drawing on a reason that was itself the object of the critique — with no way out.

For Habermas, what Horkheimer, Adorno, and the French poststructuralists all lacked was an appreciation of what speech act theorists had called the illocutionary dimension of language, which moved its center of gravity away from the subject of enunciation and the object of reference to the intersubjective action intended pragmatically by every linguistic utterance. Instead of focusing on the “I-he, she, or it” function of utterances, it stressed instead the “I-thou or you” function. It was precisely to this neglected dimension of linguistic practice, which operated above the level of deep structures, that Habermas turned to flesh out the insights he had had in his earlier work on symbolically mediated interaction and the public sphere.

Habermas’s audacious, paradigm-shifting, and generative attempt to restore the light of reason after its eclipse involved several salient departures from traditional notions of reason, including a number that continued to inform classical Critical Theory: 1) the desubstantialization of reason, 2) the detranscendentalization of reason, 3) the linguistification of reason, 4) the desublimation of reason, 5) the pluralization of reason, 6) the proceduralization of reason, 7) the temporalization of reason as a future project, and 8) finally, the “as if” narrativization of reason as a standard by which to measure the potential realization of that future. Let me quickly take each in order.

1. The desubstantialization of reason. While Adorno could still talk of solidarity with metaphysics at the moment of its fall and Horkheimer nostalgically recall the objective reason that had prevailed prior to its “eclipse,” Habermas adopted a position that he could forthrightly call “post-metaphysical.” [5] Above all, this meant abandoning the assumption that rationality might be an inherent quality of the world, either actually or potentially. Moving away from the Hegelian underpinnings of earlier Critical Theory, he rejected the idea that concepts could be understood ontologically as latent in a world that was not yet adequate to them on the level of actuality.

2. The detranscendentalization of reason. Reason could not be located in a universal, species-wide, timeless mental capacity, in the sense, say, of Kant’s a priori epistemological categories. Even more than his Frankfurt School predecessors, Habermas sought to make a clean break with the “consciousness philosophy” or “mentalism” that understood reason as inherent in the mind of the thinking subject. Reason understood logocentrically, based on the privileging of concepts and representations of the world as objects for cognitive purposes alone, was actually an impoverished version of it, and not equivalent to reason per se. Subject-centered rationality was indeed a function of that drive for self-preservation that Horkheimer had seen as leading to the domination of what was construed as external to it.

3. The linguistification of reason. It was in the interpersonal, communicative function of language — which Habermas fully acknowledged was not the only way it might be approached — that a non-mentalist rationality might be located. Whether implicitly or not, all speech acts entail giving reasons and making arguments to support their claims for validity, although some do so more expressly than others. “There is a sense in which any interpretation,” he argued, “is a rational interpretation,” [6] because it depends on the reasons offered for its plausibility. Especially when there is an explicit disagreement or problem to be solved, tacit assumptions need to be reflexively or discursively validated. They enter what the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars would famously call “the space of reasons,” where intersubjective arguments among interlocutors, normative claims to rightness, and inferential reasoning subtend any claims about the state of reality. [7] Another version of the contrast between consciousness-centered and intersubjective reason could be found in the register of morality rather than cognition, norms rather than fact. It pitted the subjective notion of practical reason developed by Kant in terms of a universal obligation felt by each individual against a discourse view of ethics, in which only argument and discussion can help actors intersubjectively weigh moral choices. “Practical reason,” Habermas insisted, “can no longer be founded in the transcendental subject. Communicative ethics appeals now only to fundamental norms of rational speech, an ultimate ‘fact of reason.’” [8]

4. The desublimation of reason. Along with the detranscendentalization of reason went its embeddedness in the historical realities of the world. Although in many respects he admired Kant, with whose limits on reason he sympathized, Habermas was closer to Hegel in rejecting any attempt to posit a transcendental subject outside of the actual historical constitution of concrete subjects who were doing the arguing in concrete circumstances, circumstances which always impeded the perfect leveling of the playing field and symmetry of participation. “The theory of communicative action integrates the transcendental tension between the intelligible and the world of appearances in communicative everyday praxis,” he explained, “yet does not thereby level it out.” [9] What results is not transcendental in any strict sense of the term, because it is always possible to use language for non-communicative purposes and without fulfilling its idealized potential.

5. The pluralization of reason. Unlike the comprehensive type of reason that, say, Marcuse or Horkheimer in their more Hegelian moods had upheld, this new paradigm of reason could not lay claim to a totalizing sublation of all differences, including those dividing various types of reason themselves. The pluralization of reason was not a flaw to be overcome, a symptom of the fragmentation of something that once was whole. “It must be made clear,” Habermas insisted, “that the purism of pure reason is not resurrected again in communicative reason.” [10] Impure reason instead meant the imperative to give reasons in an unending quest for a general consensus that would remain forever counterfactual, not the attainment of a single perfectly consistent state of full rationality. 

Because there was no overarching meta-concept of reason, a superior “healthy” version that would allow us to stigmatize others as “diseased” or “pathological,” there was, pace the older Frankfurt School, a legitimate place for an objectifying relationship both to the world and the self, alongside a more intersubjective or hermeneutic one. And however much Horkheimer had bemoaned the formalization of reason as a symptom of its “disease,” there was also a place for formalism in, say, modern legal systems that could not be folded into a higher level substantive justice. “It never occurred to Horkheimer,” Habermas pointedly remarked,

that there might be a difference between “instrumental” and “formal” reason. Moreover, he unceremoniously assimilated procedural reason — which no longer makes the validity of its results dependent on the rational organization of the world but on the rationality of the procedures through which is solves its problems — to instrumental reason. [11]

6. The proceduralization of reason. In fact, in one sense the formal dimension of reason — its following certain procedural rules — was essential from the beginning. For it can be found in the communicative nature of language. Against the structural formalism that disparaged the pragmatic level of usage in favor of deep structures, Habermas insisted that “not only language but speech too — that is, the employment of sentences in utterances — is accessible to formal analysis.” [12] Formal, it should be understood, did not mean traditional Aristotelian logic based on the syllogism, but rather the procedures of rational argumentation, where contradictions were performative rather than semantic. What precisely was the procedure in question? Habermas identified it with the idea of discourse. If a consensus is reached discursively and generalized interests are established, then the result can be understood to express what can be called a “rational will.”

Did, however, the valorization of modern differentiation and the ineradicable plurality of forms of life threaten to undermine even a weakened claim to the universality that reason had always defended. Although respecting the more intransigent universalism of his colleague Karl-Otto Apel, with whom he had a friendly dialogue on the issue, Habermas sought a way to retain the critical power of transcendental norms but within the diverse practices of everyday life. [13] In “The Unity of Reason in the Diversity of Its Voices,” first published in his collection of 1992 Postmetaphysical Thinking, Habermas conceded a great deal to the anti-foundationalist critics of an emphatic concept of substantive reason such as the one still animating the earlier generation of Critical Theorists. Agreeing with radical contextualists like Richard Rorty and Jean-François Lyotard that reason cannot be disembedded from its contingent historical embodiments, he admitted that if there is a unified rationality it exists only in those diverse manifestations, which resists subsumption under a single, comprehensive model. But as what Kant would have called a regulative ideal with normative force, an “idea of reason” rather than rational knowledge, it is impossible to abandon it entirely. In his vivid metaphor, communicative rationality is “a rocking hull — but it does not go under in the sea of contingencies, even if shuddering in high seas is the only mode in which it ‘copes’ with these contingencies.” [14] Rather than hovering above specific sub-variants, a genuine rational universality could only be built in the negotiations between and among them.

Through a more frankly proceduralist version, “a weak but not defeatist concept of linguistically embodied reason,” it would be possible to avoid having to choose between Kant’s ahistorical transcendentalism and Hegel’s teleological historical holism. [15] As a result, it allows us to abandon any illusions of ever reaching a final utopian state of full rationality in which the world and reason are completely reconciled. If there is a possible unity of reason, it is not to be achieved on the level of the differentiated cultural spheres, but rather in the more primordial communicative practices of everyday life. In other words, there was still a residue of at least an interaction among the various modalities of reason in a predifferentiated life world that had increasingly been eviscerated by the development of distinct value spheres in modernity. Although threatened by the domination of one of them — the instrumental rationality identified with capitalist economics and bureaucratic steering mechanisms — it might be possible to restore a balance without, however, losing the achievements of the differentiation.

7. The temporalization of reason. Although always already latent in communicative interaction in the prereflexive lifeworld, the actualization of a fully achieved discursive rationality in institutional terms as a form of life realizing the dream of democratic politics was inherently counterfactual. As in his defense of the “uncompleted project of modernity,” the title of his 1980 Adorno Prize address, Habermas was not calling for a fully rational — or completely “modern” — society, but rather an unending process of reasoning communicatively about the issues of the day. [16] “Nothing makes me more nervous,” he insisted, “than the imputation — repeated in a number of different versions and in the most peculiar contexts — that because the theory of communicative action focuses attention on the social facticity of recognized validity-claims, it proposes, or at least, suggests, a rationalistic utopian society.” [17] Modernity was not merely uncompleted; it was by definition uncompletable in the sense that total rationality was a never-attainable goal, but served instead only as a regulative ideal. Reason was thus located in a future that would never be fully realized, rather than in a past that might be recaptured. Although common understandings of meaning might well emerge out of the lifeworld of pre-reflective beliefs and norms into which we were all thrown, where language’s main function was what Heidegger had called “world-disclosing,” rational agreements could only follow from a process of validity testing.

Reason in this sense implies a humble humanism that is not equivalent to the self-assertion of a species-wide rational subject seeking to overcome or reintegrate the alienated otherness of nature or different cultures. It is also a humanism that does not posit a sovereign subject at the origin or the conclusion of the process, a subject who could make a “decision” to follow rational procedures or not. For such a subject would be situated in an impossible place outside of or prior to the communicative rationality entailed by symbolic interaction itself, and as such would not be fully human. But however modest, it is still a rationalism that avoids the reverse error of a negative metaphysics evoking a reality beyond discursive argumentation, in which the world is entirely negated as pure irrational contingency and the only antidote to meaninglessness is the return of mythic belief.

8. The “as if” narrativization of reason. Although rejecting an emphatic philosophy of history, Habermas did not, however, entirely abandon the idea that positing an evolutionary model of rationalization with cross-cultural validity, a self-consciously fictional narrative of species-wide development, might have its practical uses, as Kant had famously suggested in his essay of 1784, “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View.” Here Kant imbued nature with a teleological purpose — the historical realization of practical reason — that would seem to be grounded in too metaphysical a premise for Habermas. But rather than positing that teleology in the world of empirical facts, known cognitively through synthetic a priori judgments, which would as a result restrict human freedom, Kant had been careful to call it only an “idea” in the sense of being thinkable but not knowable, like the imperatives of practical reason itself. It was an “as if” fiction — Kant even compares it to a novel — that must be “considered possible and even helpful to this intention of nature.” [18]

Habermas’s version of this non-cognitive narrative was what he called a “rational reconstruction,” which would give us a heuristic device to make sense of the process of rationalization in all of its forms without, however, either confusing the model with empirical reality or seeing it as a substantive force in history understood as a causal law. Replacing a no longer adequate historical materialist scheme of successive modes of production, it would provide an always revisable normative standard against which actual historical change occurs without serving as a prophecy of where it would necessarily go. [19] It was more of a hypothetical thought experiment than Marxism had been, intuitively positing the existence of a pre-theoretical and pre-reflective learning process with potential universal scope, but always dependent on a posteriori empirical and discursive validation on the part of those who participate in the process. At best, it rested only on what Habermas called a “weak naturalism” in which human learning can be understood as continuous with the biological processes limned by Darwin. [20] Taking his cue from sociologists like Durkheim and Luhmann, psychologists like Piaget and Kohlberg, and linguists like Chomsky and Austin, Habermas sought to locate the latent developmental competences that existed for communicative rationality and moral maturation. At its most fundamental, Habermas employed rational reconstruction to arrive at the principles of universal pragmatics themselves. An inborn, species-wide communicative competence — a variant of Chomsky’s theory of grammatical competence — develops over time into the discursive skills that allow participants in discussions to proffer and weigh the better argument and reach an agreement based on reflection and persuasion, or at least inherently to strive toward that end, rather than merely reach agreement through seduction, coercion, or compromise. Individual communicative competence is intertwined with intersubjective, mutual practices, which can produce a more sustained institutional setting for enhanced rational communication and sustained practices of discursive deliberation. Non-reflexive, naïve learning without discursive validation can be succeeded by reflexive learning.

Because rational reconstruction means that reasoning can be employed with hindsight to posit the innate potential for its own development, it may seem to court the charge of circularity. It was, however, Habermas’s argument, following Hans Blumenberg’s analysis of the legitimacy of the modern age, that modernity, and along with it, modern reason, had to “create its normativity out of itself.” [21] Whereas ancient notions of reason were grounded outside of themselves, in for example intelligible forms put into the world by God, modern ones were without external foundations. In a way, Habermas’s theory was an updated version of Kant’s critique of pure reason, in which reason was both the object of the critique and the tool through which critique was itself conducted.

As might be imagined, a system as bold and ambitious as Habermas’s has engendered an enormous critical response, which touches on each and every aspect of his argument. If his elaborate system with all its appropriations of different insights from so many disparate sources were only as strong as its weakest link, it would be seriously compromised. For many of the objections raised to the component parts have been telling, requiring him tacitly or explicitly to abandon some of his initial arguments and formulations and modify others. Habermas himself, however, has been tireless in his willingness to learn from the criticisms and attempt to meet them responsibly, thus embodying precisely the values of the communicative rationality he champions.

So despite the still on-going debate about his work — indeed as evidenced by that very debate — it is fair to say that a paradigm shift has occurred in our appreciation of the stakes involved in defending reason as a ground of critique against those who have reduced it to a tool in the service of some deeper purpose, such as power or self-preservation. If it could be put in a nutshell, it might be said that we have left behind both the Enlightenment “Age of Reason” and the Counter-Enlightenment “Age of Reason’s Other” and entered, with Habermas’s help, the “Age of Reasons,” in which that “space” of which Wilfrid Sellars spoke is more than just a metaphor, but given institutional embodiment in the political, cultural, legal, scientific, and other public spheres of modern life. In the phrase of the literary critic Amanda Anderson, it is a space in which “argument as ethos” prevails, a kind of “postconventional Sittlichkeit.” [22] That ethos is distant, it bears repeating, from the identitarian logic of the traditional version of rationalism. In temporal terms, it also is open-ended because the process of reasoning, based on a fallibilist notion of truth, is understood never to reach a final point of arrival. Modernity, as we have seen, is not a completable project for Habermas, and that’s ultimately a good thing. The temporal center of gravity of giving reasons is a future potential consensus rather than a recovery of a past foundation or ground, even if it is a future that may never be fully realized.

Habermas has not been a starry-eyed utopian when it comes to the realization of a fully rational form of life, nor has he lost sight of the ways in which strategic thinking and instrumental reason can vie for prominence with communicative rationality. If one asks what the function of communicative rationality itself might be, the only answer can come from exploring the ways in which it has functioned in the practices that have developed as our species grapples with the inadequacies of our instinctual life. Among those, as the Frankfurt School always knew, however much its members may have disagreed over the nature of reason itself, was critique of the inadequate solutions of the past and consideration of possible superior solutions for the future. The stakes were therefore very high. For as the most distinguished theorist of the Frankfurt School’s third generation, Axel Honneth, rightly warned in A Social Pathology of Reason: On the Intellectual Legacy of Critical Theory,

Only as long as the theory can count on such a rational impulse for its grounding will it be able to relate itself reflexively to a potential practice in which the explanation it offers is implemented with a view to liberation from suffering. Critical Theory will only be able to continue in the form in which it has developed from Horkheimer to Habermas if it does not forsake the proof of such interests. Without a realistic concept of “emancipatory interest” that puts at its center the idea of an indestructible core of rational responsiveness on the part of subjects, this critical project will have no future. [23]


Martin Jay is Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Berkeley.


[1] Ebd., S. 83. Italics in original.

[2] Habermas, Jürgen: Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science and Politics, trans. by Jeremy J. Shapiro, Boston 1970, S. 118. Italics in original.

[3] Habermas, Jürgen: Autonomy and Solidarity: Interviews, ed. by Peter Dews, London 1986, S. 105.

[4] Habermas, Jürgen: The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. by Frederick Lawrence, Cambridge, Mass. 1987, S. 111.

[5] Habermas, Jürgen: Postmetaphysical Thinking: Philosophical Essays, trans. by William Mark Hohengarten, Cambridge, Mass. 1992.

[6] Habermas, Jürgen: Reconstruction and Interpretation in the Social Sciences. In: ders.: Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, trans. by Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen, Cambridge, Mass. 1990, hier S. 31.

[7] Sellars, Wilfred: Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge, Mass. 1997. The original essay appeared in 1956. See also In the Space of Reasons: Selected Essays of Wilfred Sellars, ed. by Robert Brandom and Kevin Scharp, Cambridge, Mass. 2007.

[8] Habermas, Jürgen: Legitimation Crisis, trans. by Thomas McCarthy, Boston, 1975, S. 120.

[9] Habermas: Religion and Rationality (wie Anm. 10), S. 91.

[10] Habermas: The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (wie Amm. 23), S. 301.

[11] Habermas: Religion and Rationality, 95.

[12] Habermas, Jürgen: What is Universal Pragmatics? In: ders.: Communication and the Evolution of Society, trans. by Thomas McCarthy, Boston 1979, hier S. 6.

[13] See Apel, Karl-Otto: Normatively Grounding Critical Theory through Recourse to the Lifeworld? A Transcendental-Pragmatic Attempt to Think with Habermas against Habermas. In: Philosophical Interventions in the Unfinished Project of Enlightenment (wie Anm. 36). For Apel’s general position, see Apel, Karl-Otto: Selected Essays, vol. 2: Ethics and the Theory of Rationality, ed. by Eduardo Mendieta, Atlantic Highlands, N.J. 1996. For an insightful discussion of their differences, see Dews, Peter: A Question of Grounding: Reconstruction and Strict Reflexion in Habermas and Apel. In: Critical Theory: Current State and Future Prospects, ed. by Peter Hohendahl undFisher

[14] Habermas, Jürgen: The Unity of Reason in the Plurality of its Voices. In: Habermas: Postmetaphysical Thinking 144.

[15] Ebd., S. 142.

[16] Habermas, Jürgen: Modernity versus Postmodernity. In: New German Critique 22 (1981), The original German title was “Die Moderne: Ein unvollendetes Projekt.”

[17] Habermas: A Reply to my Critics. hier S. 235.

[18] Kant, Immanuel: Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent. In: The Philosophy of Kant, ed. by Carl J. Friedrich, New York 1949, hier S. 129.

[19] Habermas: Communication and the Evolution of Society (wie Anm. 37); and History and Evolution. In: Telos 39 (1979).

/[20] Habermas, Jürgen: Justification and Application, trans. by Barbara Fultner, Cambridge, Mass. 2003, S. 27-28.

[21] Habermas: The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (wie Anm. 23), S. 7.*

[22] Anderson, Amanda: The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory, Princeton 2006, S. 173 and 176. She wants to rescue the concept of an “ethos” from those who identify it only with authenticity and charisma.

[23] Honneth, Axel: Pathologies of Reason, 2009. 41–42.