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here we have Habermas

October 15, 2010

Here are a collection of quotes from a collection of essays, Time of Transitions, by Jürgen Habermas.  These struck me and I wanted to be able to find them again.  I don’t agree with all the quotes below, but I find them thought-provoking.

But we lack the standards by which we could judge whether these forms of spirit are rational.  We scarcely know any longer what the question of the rationality of institutions beyond their mere stability is supposed to mean.  The thread of objective idealism snapped in the course of the nineteenth century…. After the unifying bond of reason was ruptured, Hegel’s conception of ethical life disintegrated into the elements from which he originally constructed it: language, work, and interaction. (p. 59)

It is beyond dispute that the sina qua non for a democratic will-formation on a pan-European scale that is capable of sustaining and legitimating positively coordinated and effective redistributive policies is greater solidarity at the base….  so that, for example, Swedes and Portuguese will be ready to vouch for one another…. Skeptics [argue] that there is no such thing as a European “people” capable of constituting a European state.  However, peoples first come into being with their state constitutions.  Democracy is a juridically mediated form of political integration…. But if one bears in mind that in the European states in the nineteenth century, national consciousness and civic solidarity–the first modern forum of collective identity–were produced only gradually with the help of national historiography, mass communications, and universal conscription, then there is no call for defeatism. (p. ?)

Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights, and democracy, is the direct heir to the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love.  This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation.  To this day, there is no alternative to it.  And in the light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage.  Everything else is just idle postmodern talk. (p. 150)

In my view, a philosophy that oversteps the limits of methodological atheism forfeits its philosophical seriousness. (p. 162)

After referring to the garden and Adam’s free choice as the first mythic age:

“In this second, historical age, a humbled God must himself await redemption, because humanity has taken upon itself the burden of resurrecting fallen nature. (p. 162)

I am fascinated to know how his assumed methodological atheism allows him to have confidence in his own viewpoint.  His statement of what determines philosophical seriousness rests on his individual view.  How can he be certain that he has the right view?  The problem with methodological atheism is that it rules out the atheistic null hypothesis a priori.  In other words, the atheist posits that there is not a god (A), and their null hypothesis would have to be that there is not not a god (not-A), or that there is a god.

Would any serious atheist reading this care to explain how setting the philosophical ground rules to limit the discussion to methodological atheism allows any serious weight to be given to an individual person’s viewpoint?

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