Procedural Democracy Essays

These experiences fostered a political skepticism and vigilance born out of having been exploited, and an affinity for the nascent liberal democratic principles of postwar Germany.

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He was increasingly frustrated with the unwillingness of German politicians and academics to own up to their role in the war.

He was disappointed in the postwar government’s failure to make a fresh political start and distressed by continuities with the past.

He has noted that early corrective surgeries for a cleft palate sensitized him to human vulnerability and interdependence, and that subsequent childhood struggles with fluid verbal communication may partly explain his theoretical interest in communication and mutual recognition.

He has also cited the end of WWII and frustrations over postwar Germany’s uneven willingness to fully break with its past as key personal experiences that inform his political theory.

Jürgen Habermas produced a large body of work over more than five decades.

His early work was devoted to the public sphere, to modernization, and to critiques of trends in philosophy and politics.After the war, he studied philosophy at the universities of Göttingen (1949-50), Zurich (50-51) and Bonn (51-54).He wrote his thesis on Schelling under the direction of Erich Rothacker and Oskar Becker.Habermas also claims that emerging structures of international law and transnational governance represent generally positive achievements moving the global political order in a cosmopolitan direction that better protects human rights and fosters the spread of democratic norms.He sees the emergence of the European Union as paradigmatic in this regard.He has instead tried to build a “post-metaphysical” and linguistically oriented approach to philosophical research.Another contrast with early Critical Theory is that Habermas defends the “unfinished” emancipatory project of the Enlightenment against various critiques.Soon thereafter he learned of the Nazi atrocities through radio broadcasts of the Nuremburg trials and concentration camp documentaries at local theaters.Such experiences left a deep impact: “all at once we saw that we had been living in a politically criminal system” (AS 77, 43, 231).However, his cosmopolitanism should not be overstated.He does not advocate global democracy in any strong sense, and he is committed to the idea that democratic self-determination requires a measure of localized mutual identification in the form of civic solidarity—a legally mediated solidarity around shared history, institutions, and rooted in some shared “ethical” pattern of life (see Habermas was born in 1929 in Düsseldorf, Germany.


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