A theory of action/

Habermas ‘the rationalization of society was always thought of as reification of consciousness’ placing Weber, Lukacs and Adorno among the contributors to this approach. For Habermas the paradoxes to which this conceptual strategy leads show that rationalization cannot be dealt with adequately within the conceptual frame of the philosophy of consciousness. Concerned with the project of the ideal communication community Hambermas places his allegiance with theory of action rather than mere consciousness in an attempt to allow for an unconstrained mutual understanding among individuals. An in depth analysis of Mead’s theory reveals the conceptual framework on which Habermas places his theory of the lifeworld. Normatively regulated and linguistically mediated interaction, mediated by gestures and controlled by instincts. ‘The transition of symbolically mediated to normatively guided interaction leaves a gap in the phylogenic line of development which can be filled by Durkheim’s assumptions concerning collective consciousness and the sacred foundations of morality, the ritually persevered fund of social solidarity’ Linguistification of this normative agreement leads to his concept of rationalized lifeworld with differentiated symbolic features. Which unlike Webers theory of action goes beyond purposive activity and purposive rationality to communicative action. In outlining the three main states of the lifeworld, the objective world, the social world and the subjective world, Habermas outlines the process of pure types of action to be reliant on an actors interpretation and simultaneous relation to all three of these aspects of the lifeworld in order for a mutual understanding between actors to occur. This is the interpretive framework and works on a basis of honesty through which an utterance thought to belong only to one mode of communication, in other words a sharply thematized validity claim must be acknowledged by the hearer. Consensus thus does not come about when a hearer accepts the truth of an assertion but at the same time doubts the sincerity of the speaker or the normative appropriateness of his utterance. Thus the responsibility lies with the individual at all times and forms the basis of the power paradigms that guide the communal world.

Power is given not taken?

Even when we are judging the rationality of individual persons, it is not sufficient to resort to this or that expression. The question is, rather, whether A or B or a group of individuals behaves rationally in general. whether one may systematically expect that they have good reasons for their expressions and that these expressions are correct or successful in the cognitive dimensions, reliable or insightful in the moral-practical dimension, discerning or illuminating in the evaluative dimension; that they exhibit understanding in the hermeneutic dimension; or indeed whether they are “reasonable” in all these dimensions. When there appears a systematic effect in these respects, across various domains of interaction and rationality of conduct of life. And in the sodio-cultural conditions for such a conduct of life there is reflected perhaps the rationality of a lifeworld shared not only by individuals but by collectives as well.

vita contemplativa

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