Thesis Eleven 130 (1):58-73 (2015)

Estelle Ferrarese
Strasbourg University
I show how a notion of the political as emerging reality which does not derive from any other logic — as a phenomenon devoid of foundations, of predetermined elements — features in Habermas’s theory of society. There is certainly nothing obvious about such a claim, insofar as the political is conceived, across his entire oeuvre, in relation to the public sphere, which is presented as a social space in which the functions and properties he attributes to language in general are made explicit and catalysed. It appears the public sphere coincides with the constitutive rules of universal pragmatics. More generally, the motif of the public sphere is bound up with topics which all curb the political “mode” — i.e., the validity attributed to political statements (1), the weight given, in myriad ways, to morality in the public sphere (2), and the concern to preserve science and complexity no matter what (3). I examine each one in turn, in order to demonstrate how, precisely, through the limits imposed on them, they enable us to grasp the specificity of the public sphere as political instance and, from this basis, identify a place for the political in Jürgen Habermas’s theory.
Keywords Habermas  political (the)  public sphere
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DOI 10.1177/0725513615602176
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Between Past and Future.Hannah Arendt - 1961 - New York: Viking Press.

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