Habermas's Postmetaphysical thinking
Published by Polity Press in 1988 and subsequently published, with the ommission of a few essays, in English 4 years later
Notes by Erik Empson
Postmetaphysical thinking appears to coincide with the movement away from metaphysical philosophies of reflection of which Hegel is understood to be the final innovator. Hence both Kierkegaard and Marx are seen as paths away from this type of thought and stepping stones on the way to functional sociologies and psychologies that set in motion the procedures of communication theory. Habermas draws heavily on Mead to develop a theory of social interaction that is not dependent upon idealist notions of the self positing of the ego which, upto Fichte, depended upon the I as the original source of consciousness. In developing Mead's idea of the social ego Habermas puts forward that consciousness is not a originary act of the ego, but an external force that encroaches inwardly and forms the ego within a set of responses to stimuli from the other, wherein the I through being refered to by another can gain knowledge of himself in seeing how a second actor organises his interlocutionary demands. In developing communication theory, Habermas is, in our terms, developing a theory of society that is not reducible to a simple totality but has social complexity as its ground i.e. a number of plural language games, different orders of power, different structures of politics in play at anyone time. He is thus concerned with developing a theory of individuation within a discourse of social differentiation.