Monday, 19 March 2012 07:58

Jurgen Habermas: Men of Ideas

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Jurgen Habermas (1929- ) was born in Germany. He is noted for his critical theory or should we say criticism of liberalism.

Habermas is a college professor and does what college professors are supposed to do: teach extant knowledge and criticize them and seem to be saying something important but from a distance are saying nothing; they are not contributing new ideas to intellectual discourse. Haberman seems to be trying to show that human beings, that is, Western human beings are rational beings after all and are capable of rational communication with one another and are capable of constructing rational institutions.

I am not sure where this is leading us to. Adam Smith had told us that each of us is seeking his self interests and rationally deals with other persons, calculating what is good for him, and since all of us are doing the same thing that in the long run society benefits from this selfish but rational behavior. Habermas seems to be saying that human beings are capable of rational self interested behaviors. Apparently, in his view he has constructed a new social theory whereby people’s patterns of communicative behaviors shows that there is rationality in their behaviors.

Having massaged the various philosophers, such as Kant and Hegel, Habermas considers himself as positing a theory of rational communication that is not located in  the external universe but in individuals. Individuals are capable of interpersonal communication that is rational.

Speech has purpose (is teleological) and studying speech and linguistic patterns is one way to figure out rationality in human relationships.

Ludwig Wittgenstein said something similar to that.  It seems to me that Habermas was one of those supposed philosophers produced when men were no longer capable of philosophizing and looked at language and seem to become philosophers of language and meaning drawn from language. Nothing of importance is really said in this process, certainly nothing new, although to idle scholars and professor much seems to have been said. I must say that I find Habermas a waste of my time, just as I found the quarter I spent in college studying Wittgenstein a waste of my time.


Jurgen Habermas.  The Theory of Communicative Action. (1981)

Jurgen Habermas. Communication and the Evolution of Society. (1976)

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: (907) 310-8176