Jürgen Habermas

Philosopher and sociologist


Jürgen Habermas - source: dlibrary.acu.edu.au

Jurgen Habermas is widely considered as the most influential thinker in Germany over the past decade [1970-80]. As a philosopher and sociologist he has mastered and creatively articulated an extraordinary range of specialized literature in the social sciences, social theory and the history of ideas in the provocative critical theory of knowledge and human interests. His roots are in the tradition of German thought from Kant to Marx, and he has been associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theorists which pioneered in the study of the relationship of the ideas of Marx and Freud.' (Mezirow, 1981)

Habermas differentiates three primary generic cognitive areas in which human interest generates knowledge. These areas determine categories relevant to what we interpret as knowledge. That is, they are termed 'knowledge constitutive' -- they determine the mode of discovering knowledge and whether knowledge claims can be warranted. These areas define cognitive interests or learning domains, and are grounded in different aspects of social existence -- work, interaction and power.

Critical Theory agrees with that of Karl Marx in that '...one must become conscious of how an ideology reflects and distorts ... reality ... and what factors ... influence and sustain the false consciousness which it represents -- especially reified powers of domination.' Habermas' 'perspective transformation' or transformed consciousness is similar to that of Marx and is akin to that experienced by research into the way that 'sexual, racial, religious, educational, occupational, political economic and technological' ideologies create or contribute to our dependency on 'reified powers'. Habermas differs from Marx in that Marx revised Hegelian thought to claim that a transformed consciousness should lead to a predictable form of action -- for example (Marx & Engels, 1969), the abolition of private property (p 96). Habermas posits no predictable outcomes (Mezirow, 1981).

source: physicsed.buffalostate.edu

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