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Created: March 19, 2002
Latest Update: March 19, 2002

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Jewish Thought and Critical Theory

From Olli-Pekka Moisio's proposal for for Doctoral Thesis

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

This essay is based on a discussion on the Hab list about exploring the relationship between psychoanalytic theory and Habermas' theoretical approach. Discussion is planned on Freud's Moses and Monotheism. I'm going to join this discussion group because of the importance at this time of both Freudian theory and monotheism to some of the global problems we presently face.

Olli-Pekka Moisio, working on a doctoral thesis in Finland, just announced his/her interest in the group discussion, and linked to this proposal for his/her thesis.

Olli-Pekka Moisio plans to look first at the life history of Horkheimer, who was an orthodox Jew, and who remained a secular Jew. This will provide in depth situatedness within the Jewish culture of the time, as the individual cultural experience which has to have shaped Horkheimer's thought. Then he/she plans to link this conceptually to the cultural-historical perspective, moving "from life history to that particular junction point where particular meets general, and individual meets social."

This leads to an approach "from the view point the history of concepts. In this dimension I maintain that the concepts gain their expressions in cultural-historical and in individual life-historical realities. We can roughly formulate that the historical reality gives essential form to concepts which cultural processes use in their activities. This relationship between concepts and reality is not, however, a one-way street. Concepts have a central role in what way the reality constructs itself for us and how we give shape to reality by our activities. In this way life history and cultural reality gain their expression in concepts and vice versa. By sublation this perpetual dialectical process always produces new conceptual constellations whose self-understanding is, at the end, what philosophy is all about."

You will find this paragraph if you scroll about two inches down Olli-Pekka Moisio's doctoral prospectus file. Backup.

In the last sentence what Olli-Pekka Moisio is saying is that each of these dialectic exchanges between personal life experiences, cultural history, and our own efforts to reflexively understand the concepts with which we shape our reality alters each of the factors, but retains part of each in the synthesis which is self-understanding. That's a definition of interdependence in the sense we use it in constitutive theory, isn't it.

Olli-Pekka Moisio's work and the Hab discussion group on Freud's Moses and Monotheism should help us understand the self-understanding process more effectively. To a very real extent self-understanding is key to the ability of democracy to survive in the rapidly approaching process of globalization.(Habermas, Jurgen. The Postnational Constellation. Polity Press, 2001.)