- Paperback: 142 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st Published as Beacon Ppbk in 1971 edition (August 1, 1971)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780807041772
- ISBN-13: 978-0807041772
- ASIN: 0807041777
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,808,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science, and Politics 1st Published as Beacon Ppbk in 1971 Edition
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"It is not altogether easy to assess the work of a scholar whose professional competence extends from the logic of science to the sociology of knowledge, by way of Marx, Hegel, and the more recondite sources of the European metaphysical tradition ... The baffling thing about Habmermas is that, in an age when most of his colleagues had painfully established control over one corner of the field, he has made himself the master of the whole, in depth and breadth alike." – Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Jürgen Habermas (born June 18, 1929) is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism.
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He wrote in the first chapter of this 1969 book, “The argument with which I begin is borrowed from the philosophy of science… that goes back to Hume… Hume demonstrated that normative statements cannot be derived from descriptive statements. Hence it seems advisable not to confuse decisions about the choice of norms… with problems of the empirical sciences. From theoretical knowledge we can at best, given specific goals, derive rules for instrumental action. Practical knowledge, on the contrary, is a matter of rules of communicative action and these standards cannot be grounded in a scientifically binding manner. This logical separation thus suggests an institutional separation. Politics does not belong at the university except as the object of a science that itself proceeds according to an unempirical method.” (Pg. 6)
He states, “Philosophy, having become circumscribed as a specific discipline, can legitimately go beyond the area reserved to it by assuming the role of interpreter between one specialized narrow-mindedness and another. Thus I consider it philosophical enlightenment when doctors learn from sociological and psychoanalytic studies to appreciate the influence of the family environment on the genesis of psychoses and thereby also learn to reflect on certain biologistic assumptions of the tradition of their discipline. I consider it philosophical enlightenment when sociologists, directed by professional historians, apply some of their general hypotheses to historical material and thereby become aware of the inevitably forced character of their generalizations.” (Pg. 8)
He asserts, “Under other historical conditions, the juxtaposition of the categories ‘revolution’ and ‘reform’ constituted a sharp line of demarcation. In industrially advanced societies it no longer discriminates between possible alternative strategies of change. The only way I see to bring about conscious structural change in a social system organized in an authoritarian welfare state is radical reformism. What Marx called critical-revolutionary activity must take this way today. This means that we must promote reforms for clear and publicly discussed goals.” (Pg. 48-49)
He points out, “But the weaknesses of the technocratic model are evident. On the one hand, it assumes an immanent necessity of technical progress, which owes its appearance of being as independent, self-regulating process only to the way in which social interests operate in it---namely through continuity with unreflected, unplanned, passively adaptive natural history. On the other hand, this model presupposes a continuum of rationality in the treatment of technical and practical problems, which cannot in fact exist.” (Pg. 64)
He contends, “The idea of a New Science will not stand up to logical scrutiny any more than that of a New Technology, if indeed science is to retain the meaning of modern science inherently oriented to possible technical control. For this function, as for scientific-technical progress in general, there is no more ‘humane’ substitute.” (Pg. 88)
In the final chapter, he notes, “Of course this technocratic intention has not been realized anywhere even in its beginnings. But it serves as an ideology for the new politics, which is adapted to technical problems and brackets out practical questions. Furthermore it does correspond to certain developmental tendencies that could lead to a creeping erosion of what we have called the institutional framework. The manifest domination of the authoritarian state gives way to the manipulative compulsions of technical-operational administration. The moral realization of a normative order is a function of communicative action oriented to shared cultural meaning and presupposing the internalization of values. It is increasingly supplanted by conditioned behavior, while large organizations as such are increasingly patterned after the structure of purposive-rational action.” (Pg. 106-107)
Probably not one of Habermas’s “major works,” this book will still have value for anyone studying the development of Habermas’s thought.