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Habermas : A Biography

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Jurgen Habermas , wrote the American philosopher Ronald Dworkin on the occasion of the great European thinker s eightieth birthday, is not only the world s most famous living philosopher. Even his fame is famous. Now, after many years of intensive research and in-depth conversations with contemporaries, colleagues and Habermas himself, Stefan Muller-Doohm presents the first comprehensive biography of one of the most important public intellectuals of our time. From his political and philosophical awakening in West Germany to the formative relationships with Adorno and Horkheimer, Muller-Doohm masterfully traces the major forces that shaped Habermas s intellectual development. He shows how Habermas s life and work were conditioned by the possibilities offered to his generation in the unique circumstances of regained freedom that characterized postwar Germany. And yet Habermas s career is fascinating precisely because it amounts to more than a corpus of scholarly work, however original and influential that may be. For here is someone who continually left the protective space of the university in order to assume the role of a participant in controversial public debates D from the significance of the Holocaust to the future of Europe D and in this way sought to influence the development of social and political life in an arena much broader than the academy. The significance and virtuosity of Habermas s many writings over the years are also fully and expertly documented, ranging from his early work on the public sphere to his more recent writings on communicative action, cosmopolitanism and the postnational condition. What emerges from this biography is a vivid portrait of one of the great public intellectuals of our time D a unique thinker who has made an immense and lasting philosophical contribution but who, when he perceives that society is not living up to its potential for creating free and just conditions for all, becomes one of its most rigorous and persistent critics.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 456 pages
  • 160 x 233 x 54mm | 1,108g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1. Auflage
  • 074568906X
  • 9780745689067
  • 283,861

Table of contents

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements
Preface
Prologue: The Other among his Peers
Part I: Catastrophe and Emancipation
Chapter 1: Disaster Years as Normality. Childhood and Youth in Gummersbach
Born in 1929
Turning point: 1945
Chapter 2: At University in Goettingen, Zurich and Bonn
Doctorate on the philosophy of Schelling
Speaking out as a freelance journalist
The beginnings of a career as a public intellectual
Part II: Politics and Critique
Chapter 3: Education intellectuelle in Cafe Marx
Mutual trust between Habermas and the Adornos
Horkheimer s animosities towards the dialectical Mr H.
The most promising intellectual
Chapter 4: Under the Aegis of Conflicting Personalities: Abendroth and Gadamer
A man of the democratic left
Positions in the dispute over the right form of critique and good politics
Chapter 5: Back in Frankfurt. Torn between Academic Work and Political Practice
In search of an epistemological foundation for critique
Thinking with the protest movement against the protest movement
In the line of fire from his own side
A new track in philosophical thought
Chapter 6: In the Ivory Tower of Social Scientific Research
Between Academic Management and Research
A theory about the impossibility of not learning
The minefield of political interpretations in the German Autumn
Resignation
Part III: Science and Commitment
Chapter 7: Genius Loci: In Frankfurt for the Third Time
The major work
The theory of action
System and lifeworld
Everyday life in Frankfurt
Chapter 8: New Projects
Under the spell of the philosophy of law
Morality and law
Chapter 9: Battles over the Politics of Ideas
Opinion leader of the new left?
The historians debate
Habermas as a sceptic towards reunification
Chapter 10: Against Germanomania and Nationalism
Habermas s ambiguous attitude towards military interventions
The Asylum Debate
A memorial to the murdered Jews
Part IV: Cosmopolitan Society and Justice
Chapter 11: Critique as a Vocation. The Transition into the Third Millennium
A plea for freedom of the will and the inviolability of the person
The philosopher as globetrotter
Many honours and an affair
Chapter 12: The Taming of Capitalism and the Democratization of Europe
Democratic politics D a counterbalance to capitalism?
European integration
On the way to a democratically constituted world order
Chapter 13: Philosophy in the Age of Postmetaphysical Modernity
What can I know? - Linguistic pragmatics as a form of naturalism and realism
What should I do? From the demand of virtue to the assumption of rationality
What may I hope? Religion in a post-secular society
What is Man? Language and Intersubjectivity
Chapter 14: Books at an Exhibition
Consciousness-Raising and Rescuing Critique
Epilogue: The Inner Compass
Notes
Appendix

Genealogy
Chronology
List of Habermas s lectures and seminars
Bibliography
List of archives
Illustration credits
Index
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Review Text

'Few would contest the verdict that Habermas has achieved-in both his philosophical work and in his role as a public intellectual-a place of enduring significance that surpasses that of any other thinker in our time. The definitive new biography by Stefan Müller-Doohm... lays out the evidence for this conclusion with great care and enormous sympathy for its protagonist.'
The Nation
Heidegger's lapidary biographical summation, "The man was born, he worked, and then died," may have been appropriate for Aristotle, but is woefully inadequate for the philosopher who is arguably our era's version of the great Greek polymath, Jürgen Habermas. For not only is he still very much alive and producing new work at a vigorous pace, but it is also the case that his voluminous contributions to philosophy, sociology, political theory, and cultural criticism demand to be read in the context of his remarkable career as a committed public intellectual. As his masterful biography of Adorno already demonstrated, Stefan Müller-Doohm shows himself to be fully up to the task of discerning figures in the intricately woven carpet of a major thinker's life and work.
Martin Jay, University of California Berkeley
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Review quote

"This [book] makes for fascinating reading" The Guardian "Habermas is a biography of an accomplished living intellectual whose audience is extended much beyond the academic world. Stefan Muller-Doohm is a perfect storyteller and he tells the story of Habermas in such a way that you will not be able to put it down before you finish it. Nobody knows the art of biography better than Muller-Doohm." The Washington Book Review "Few would contest the verdict that Habermas has achieved in both his philosophical work and in his role as a public intellectual a place of enduring significance that surpasses that of any other thinker in our time. The definitive new biography by Stefan Muller-Doohm lays out the evidence for this conclusion with great care and enormous sympathy for its protagonist." The Nation "Heidegger's lapidary biographical summation, The man was born, he worked, and then died, may have been appropriate for Aristotle, but is woefully inadequate for the philosopher who is arguably our era's version of the great Greek polymath, Jurgen Habermas. For not only is he still very much alive and producing new work at a vigorous pace, but it is also the case that his voluminous contributions to philosophy, sociology, political theory, and cultural criticism demand to be read in the context of his remarkable career as a committed public intellectual. As his masterful biography of Adorno already demonstrated, Stefan Muller-Doohm shows himself to be fully up to the task of discerning figures in the intricately woven carpet of a major thinker's life and work." Martin Jay, University of California Berkeley
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About Stefan Müller-Doohm

Stefan Muller-Doohm, born in 1942, studied in Frankfurt under Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer and is now Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Director of the Research Centre for the Sociology of Intellectuals at the University of Oldenburg. His other works include Adorno: A Biography.
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