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regier and reinkordt 121 W. G. Regier and H. Peter Reinkordt Jürgen Habermas: "Under the Macroscope"* Reading Habermas is necessary if we accept his reputation. In 1973, Trent Schroyerdeclared, "The work ofJürgen Habermas . . . opens up a new era for the critical philosophy ofthe social sciences and for critical theory."' David Held dubbed Habermas "the leading spokesman for a new generation ofcritical theorists."2 John B. Thompson wrote that Habermas's work "is currently in the forefront of critical social theory." In 1980, Held and Thompson published a joint statement: Jürgen Habermas has assumed an extraordinary stature. As die leading social Üiinker in Germany today, Habermas has elaborated a theoretical orientation which is relevant to a wide range ofdisciplines, from politics and sociology to philosophy, psychology, and linguistics, (Habermas: CriticalDebate) Thomas McCarthy, Habermas's chief American translator and interpreter, sums up: "Jürgen Habermas is the dominant figure on the intellectual scene in Germany today, as he has been for the past decade."' These claims are striking first because they raise Habermas so high, second because diey lay so much beneath him, a domain as wide, populous, and proud as contemporary intellectual Germany. They also exemplify problems Habermas has focused on recently, namely, truth claims. What are these assertions? Testaments of gratitude, historical theses, annexation claims, advertising? Are they correct? What difference does it make ifthey are? Appearing as they do in opening pages of difficult books, these claims are exordiums, encouraging readers todelve into a modern thinker whose difficulty *Books reviewed: Raymond Geuss. The Idea ofa Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt School. Cambridge , England: Cambridge University Press, 1981 . 100 pp. $2 1 .95 (cloth), $7.50 (paper). Jürgen Habermas. Kleine Politische Schriften, UV. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1981. 535 pp. $24.55. Jürgen Habermas, editor. Observations on "The Spiritual Situation ofthe Age." Translated by Andrew Buchwalter. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983. 419 pp. $30. Jürgen Habermas. PhilosophicalPolitical Profiles. Translated by Frederick G. Lawrence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983. 239 pp. $25. Jürgen Habermas. The Theory ofCommunicative Action. Volume One: Reason and the Rationalization ofSociety. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1984. 507 pp. $29.95. Garbis Kortian. Metacritique: The Philosophical Argument ofJürgen Habermas. Translated by John Raffan. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1980. 135 pp. $24.95 (cloth), $8.95 (paper). John B. Thompson. Critical Hermeneutics: A Study in the Thought ofPaul Ricoeur andJürgen Habermas. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 198 1 . 267 pp. $35. John B. Thompson and David Held, editors. Habermas: Critical Debates. Cambridge , MA: MIT Press, 1982. 324 pp. $30 (cloth), $12.50 (paper). 122 the minnesota review is as famous as he is. No matter how necessary reading Habermas may be, he is not to be read quickly or casually. He's hard for ten fat reasons. First, he often writes in a subtle academic language, drawing upon the specialized vocabularies ofthe liberal arts and sciences. Second, his intricate arguments resemble mazes: many can enter, few can pass mrough. Third, his writing output is massive and diverse, sprawling over thousands ofpages. Fourth, his translators are sometimes hasty, e.g., "die Einheit von Philosophie und Wissenschaft" becomes "the unity of philosophy and theology" and "Böswillige" becomes "well disposed" (PPP, 28, 54). Fifth, several of his most important books are not translated at all. Sixth, Habermas's orientation can with equal justice be called Kantian, Hegelian, Marxist, Wittgensteinean, Weberian, and phenomenological , partaking oftraditions which, widi dieir tomes, dissensions, and ravined depdis, have diemselves overawed readers. Seventh, Habermas inhabits no intellectual tower built book by book; he has changed his mind and his footing several times. Eighth, he has an abundance of critics and defenders who honor him with controversy.4 Ninth, cultural differences between modern Germany and die United States distort or obscure emphasis and references to traditions . Tenth, Habermas himself has on several occasions flatly stated diat die era ofthe great solitary genius is past: "Not only has the great tradition come to an end but so (in my view) has the style ofdiought bound to individual erudition and personal testimony" (PPP, 2). He requests to be read in die context not only ofhis chosen traditions...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 121-132
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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