Sonntag, 25. März 2007

"Post-metaphysical" thinking is not so post-metaphysical anymore ...

At first I have choosen another headline for this post: "Post-metaphysical thinking becomes metaphysical again". - But no, everything is a whole lot more subtile, as I saw later: "Post-metaphysical" thinking is "religiously informed but nevertheless not 'metaphysical' "!!! Ok - whatever that might mean and whatever the difference might be. You can find a reasoning about all this in the "Journal of Social Theory" in an article called "Habermas' Theological Turn".

Ah, no, here we have a better phrase: "... post-metaphysical and post-Christian (thinking) which does not mean un-Christian (thinking)"! - Ah!? - Yes?! - I did'nt know that before. It is always time to see things anew ...

In the abstract we can find, that the article is basically positive towards this new "theological turn" in the "post-metaphysical thinking" of our famous Jürgen Habermas: "... These difficulties and inconsistencies in Habermas's recent thinking remain instructive and ought to continue to engage the interest of scholars concerned today with the question of how far the philosophy of the social sciences can and cannot accommodate commitments to theism in the practice of research."

Some more sentences from the article itself (bolded phrases not in the original text):

... Habermas writes that religion provides "orienting pictures of unspoilt forms of life" that offer "an at once limiting and disclosing horizon", images that "inspire and encourage us" in our repeated efforts at cooperatively bringing about the good, and thus offer "regenerative power" for a "dwindling normative consciousness" (5: 218, 235). Bound up with this seems to be Habermas's sense that the critical social theory needs something more than itself, some minimal postulate of teleological finality, something stronger and ethically even thicker than the statement in The Theory of Communicative Action that processes of "reaching an understanding" (Verständigung) are the "inherent telos of all speech" (1981, vol. 1: 387). It now seems that Habermas recognizes something like a theological lacuna, a lack or blind spot in his own work. He appears to hold that an orientation to the true, the right and the good as the outcome of the conversation of humanity, in the spirit of the philosophy of C.S. Peirce, requires a more emphatic sense of its debts to metaphysics, even as it seeks to "transcend" metaphysics.

However, what exactly is this theological lacuna, and what kind of filling does it need? In his work from the 1980s Habermas tended to align the term "post-metaphysical thinking" with the term "post-traditional" and generally with a "post-religious" outlook (Habermas 1988). In his current work he no longer aligns these terms completely but instead allows for the possibility of a post-metaphysical thinking that is still religiously inflected in some sense. In the following I first want to consider some problems in his aligning of these terms. ...

So, we may ask: Do we really need theism "to inspire and encourage us", to give us "regenerative power", "teleological finality"? We have other possibilities also. Why is Habermas only thinking about theism, when he is thinking about "debts to metaphysics"? I think, Kevin Mac Donald gives some hints in his "A Culture of Critique" about the theistic connections, roots, background of the famous atheists of the "Frankfurter Schule"-teachers of Jürgen Habermas. He may be influenced by this very deeply also.

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