Habermas's theory breaks with the Continental tradition that has denigrated pragmatism as an Anglo-Saxon philosophy subservient to technocratic capitalism. While Habermas deftly uses pragmatist insights into communicative rationality and democratic ethos, he shows little sensitivity to other facets of pragmatism. This article argues that incorporating the pragmatist perspective on experience and indeterminacy brings a corrective to the emancipatory agenda championed by critical theorists. The pragmatist alternative to the theory of communicative action is presented, with the discussion centering around the following themes: disembodied reason versus embodied reasonableness, determinate being versus indeterminate reality, discursive truth versus pragmatic certainty, rational consensus versus reasonable dissent, transcendental democracy versus democratic transcendence, and rational society versus sane community.
Critical theory; Democracy--Social aspects; Habermas; Jürgen; Pragmatism
Politics and Social Change | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology | Sociology of Culture
© 1992 by The University of Chicago.
Shalin, D. N.
Critical Theory and the Pragmatist Challenge.
American Journal of Sociology, 98(2),