Modernity as autonomy

Inquiry 38 (3):289 – 303 (1995)
Abstract
In Modernism as a Philosophical Problem Robert Pippin offers an interpretation of post-Kantian continental philosophy that locates the project of autonomy or self-determination at the center of the modernity/postmodernity debate and presents Hegel as a kind of radical, post-Kantian modernist, whose philosophical "experiment" is preferable to more recent attempts to overcome or deconstruct metaphysics. I raise some questions about the adequacy of Pippin's interpretation of Hegel's notion of a rational justification, at least as it bears on his argument in the Philosophy of Right, and I express some reservations about Pippin's own attempt to view modernity in terms of the project of autonomy. I conclude with some reasons for preferring Habermas's account of modernity which, without abandoning the project of autonomy, relinquishes the idea of a self-grounding of reason and proposes a more modest role for philosophy within the current division of intellectual labor.
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