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Created: April 26, 2002
Latest Update: April 26, 2002

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takata@uwp.edu

Jurgen Habermas and Karl Marx

Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individaul Authors, April 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.

This essay is based on a real exchange on one of my lists, the likes of which I never expect to see in any of our discussions because the theorists forgot to respect one another in their differences. I want you to see how easy it is to slip into such behavior, and how counterproductive it is to academic discourse and learning. I've removed all reference to persons and dates, and I certainly mean no offense to anyone. We all experience affect in our discussions. We all express those emotions. But they do distract from learning, and they don't add to our understanding of either the theory or each other.
"The fact that you can so easily dismiss Habermas's KHI [Knowledge and Human Interests] as illiterate says a lot, and if Habermas is "illiterate" in your tortured vocabulary, then I will gladly join him there. To assume that I only like to take authorities on faith rather than engage in actual research--again, a superficial leap in logic on the basis of a single email--is just plain sad (especially from someone who still tends to treat Marx as a matter of biblical exegesis). It's not only inaccurate, but nobody on this list can learn from it.

jeanne's comments: The pejorative appellation "illiterate," especially applied to Habermas, seems egregiously inappropriate. And it doesn't tell us what Person X saw in KHI that didn't make sense to her. So that I agree that "none of us on the list can learn from it." Now, if one of you called someone in our discussion illiterate, I would stop the discussion then and there to consider the dynamics of the conversation and how we got to such an informal stage. I would try to move the discussion back to a technical level, where affect is more easily handled, and someone would have a lowered grade for failing to recognize the inappropriateness of moving to such an informal level. (Reference: Edward T. Hall, on affect and levels of learning.) Again, I point to "The Latent Positivism of Marx's Philosophy of History" in Albrecht Wellmer's CRITICAL THEORY OF SOCIETY. I chide you for your lack of a sense of humor--Czech or otherwise--and for your superficial reading of my original post. A good portion research for my first masters thesis was on Marx--and I would happily challenge you in a debate on "Marx's Subversion of Critique" at San Francisco State University if you would like. Hahaha. Goodbye to you. I have not read Wellmer, but from I recall of Habermas' KNOWLEDGE OF HUMAN INTERESTS, it was 100% illiterate with respect to Marx. But I guess what matters to you is who you think are authorities to take on faith, not actual research. The most passing acquaintance with Marx's notion of scientific method as expressed in the GRUNDRISSE on would disabuse you of your cluelessness. There is one little anthology of Marx's comments on the subject compiled by Terrell Carver, TEXTS ON METHOD. Or if you prefer secondary sources, there are a million better places to go. Off the tip/top I think of Patrick Murray's MARX'S THEORY OF SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE (approximate title) or one of Tony Smith's books on Marx's dialectical social science, and these are only drops in the bucket of this subject. As little as you know, you'd best be not so smug. And now I am through wasting time on you. I'll leave you to enjoy your mediocrity in peace. Bye. X-Authentication-Warning: lists.village.Virginia.EDU: domo set sender to owner-habermas@localhost using -f From: Kenneth MacKendrick To: habermas@lists.village.virginia.edu MMDF-Warning: Parse error in original version of preceding line at mail.virginia.edu Subject: Re: HAB: Re: 3 reasons (this place stinks) Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 09:28:10 -0700MIME-Version: 1.0 X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.00.2615.200 X-Authentication-Info: Submitted using SMTP AUTH LOGIN at fep04-mail.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com from [24.157.205.220] using ID at Fri, 26 Apr 2002 09:31:45 -0400 Sender: owner-habermas@lists.village.virginia.edu Reply-To: habermas@lists.village.virginia.edu This is a multi-part message in MIME format. ------=_NextPart_000_0069_01C1ED04.AE69B5A0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable ----- Original Message -----=20 From: Jeanne Curran=20 Ken says he's a theorist, not an activist. I have lots of thoughts on = that, amongst which, someone said, and I think it was Ken again, that = it doesn't matter what Habermas thinks of these issues, for he is a = theorist who offers a structure for addressing the issues. It isn't his = thought on the topic we seek, but how we might successfully think it = out. But then Habermas and Ken leave the praxis to us, the ordinary = folks. ** I think theory is praxis, and I think theorists are ordinary folks. = There is nothing extraordinary about a teacher or a professor as such. = And Habemas doesn't just leave it, he writes for popular journals and = newspapers, and he's occassionally signed petitions and engaged in = protest actions. But that isn't the point. There is a division between = theorizing and strategic action. Protests, boycotts and so on are = strategic plans which aim at success. Theory aims at truth, and = communicative action aims at understanding and agreement. It is = important, at least for Habermas, to keeep these things distinguished = (we wouldn't want to confuse a successful protest with consensus! nor = truth with success and so on). I'd be foolin' myself if I said I was an = activist. I'm not the best person to organize complicated strategies, = although I enjoy coming up with entertaining ways of clowning, and I'm = definitely not the best person to raise money for a legal defence = fund... although I don't mind standing on a street corner with a sign. = Many of these are personal decisions, which means they aren't really all = that open to any kind moral justification, although perhaps ethical in = the Habermasian sense. And all this, for some reason, often arrives back = in my face with the charge of being elitist. What is a good response to = this? "No, I'm not, but I still think you're wrong?" I enjoy what I do - = things that are fairly limited to reading and writing and teaching - and = I try to give reasoned responses, with the odd exception of clowning = which I also take very seriously (and yes, I complain about the grunt = work of administriva, something I think everyone is justified in = doing!). I fear the charge of elitism arrives with a kind of = anti-intellectualism, some sort of prejudice against people who, in the = end, would rather be reading by a campfire than anything else (which is = likely where a good many peole would rather 'intellectuals' be). What = else can be said, in my utopian imagination there is room for dorks, = debutantes and dancers. Wow! It's kind of hard to sit through dinner with you guys. Well, = nevermind. Ralph, I guess you can just fuss at me. I'm probably = irrational, and I'm sure I'm volkisch, but I'm glad Habermas said that = we need to recognize each others' human faces. I'm gonna stand firm with = my position, at least for a while. That's because I learned from Freud, = via Jonathan Lear, that we aren't always rational. ** Right, we aren't always rational, and that's a problem we encounter = when thinking with Habermas. And, surprisingly enough, I do think that = sometimes there are 'irrational' reconciliations. I'm a creature of the = enlightenment, but enough of an old soul to think that sometimes we = encounter reason through the very things that are currently deemed = irrational. ken ------=_NextPart_000_0069_01C1ED04.AE69B5A0 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable ----- = Original=20 Message ----- From: Jeanne Curran Ken says he's a theorist, not an activist. I have lots of = thoughts on=20 that, amongst which, someone said, and I think it was Ken again, = that it=20 doesn't matter what Habermas thinks of these issues, for he is a = theorist who=20 offers a structure for addressing the issues. It isn't his thought on = the=20 topic we seek, but how we might successfully think it out. But then = Habermas=20 and Ken leave the praxis to us, the ordinary folks. ** I think theory is praxis, and I think theorists are ordinary = folks.=20 There is nothing extraordinary about a teacher or a professor as such. = And=20 Habemas doesn't just leave it, he writes for popular journals and = newspapers,=20 and he's occassionally signed petitions and engaged in protest = actions. But=20 that isn't the point. There is a division between theorizing and = strategic=20 action. Protests, boycotts and so on are strategic plans which aim at = success.=20 Theory aims at truth, and communicative action aims at understanding = and=20 agreement. It is important, at least for Habermas, to keeep these = things=20 distinguished (we wouldn't want to confuse a successful protest with=20 consensus! nor truth with success and so on). I'd be foolin' myself if = I said=20 I was an activist. I'm not the best person to organize complicated = strategies,=20 although I enjoy coming up with entertaining ways of clowning, and I'm = definitely not the best person to raise money for a legal defence = fund...=20 although I don't mind standing on a street corner with a sign. Many of = these=20 are personal decisions, which means they aren't really all that open = to any=20 kind moral justification, although perhaps ethical in the Habermasian = sense.=20 And all this, for some reason, often arrives back in my face with the = charge=20 of being elitist. What is a good response to this? "No, I'm not, but I = still=20 think you're wrong?" I enjoy what I do - things that are fairly = limited=20 to reading and writing and teaching - and I try to give reasoned = responses,=20 with the odd exception of clowning which I also take very seriously = (and yes,=20 I complain about the grunt work of administriva, something I think = everyone is=20 justified in doing!). I fear the charge of elitism arrives with a kind = of=20 anti-intellectualism, some sort of prejudice against people who, in = the end,=20 would rather be reading by a campfire than anything else (which is = likely=20 where a good many peole would rather 'intellectuals' be). What else = can be=20 said, in my utopian imagination there is room for dorks, debutantes = and=20 dancers. Wow! It's kind of hard to sit through dinner with you guys. = Well,=20 nevermind. Ralph, I guess you can just fuss at me. I'm = probably=20 irrational, and I'm sure I'm volkisch, but I'm glad Habermas said that = we need=20 to recognize each others' human faces. I'm gonna stand firm with my = position,=20 at least for a while. That's because I learned from Freud, via = Jonathan Lear,=20 that we aren't always rational. ** Right, we aren't always rational, and that's a problem we = encounter=20 when thinking with Habermas. And, surprisingly enough, I do think that = sometimes there are 'irrational' reconciliations. I'm a creature of = the=20 enlightenment, but enough of an old soul to think that sometimes we = encounter=20 reason through the very things that are currently deemed = irrational. ken ------=_NextPart_000_0069_01C1ED04.AE69B5A0-- --- from list habermas@lists.village.virginia.edu ---