Friday, 14 April 2000

From "Philosophy as Stand-In and Interpreter"

By Jurgen Habermas.

There is no denying that pragmatism and hermeneutics represent a gain. Instead of focusing introspectively on consciousness, these two points of view look outside it: at objectifications of action and language. Gone is the fixation on the cognitive function of consciousness. Gone too is the emphasis on the representational function of language and the visual metaphor of the "mirror of nature." What takes their place is the notion of justified opinion, spanning the whole spectrum of what can be said -- what Wittgenstein and Austin call illocutionary force -- rather than just the contents of fact-stating discourses. "Saying things is not always saying how things are."

[...] Do these considerations strengthen Rorty's interpretation of pragmatism and hermeneutics, which argues for the abnegation, by philosophical thought, of any claim to rationality, indeed for the abnegation of philosophy per se? Or do they mark the beginning of a new paradigm that, while discarding the mentalistic language game of the philosophy of consciousness, retains the justificatory modes of that philosophy in the modest, self-critical form in which I have presented them?

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