Habermas on Understanding: Virtual Participation, Dialogue and the Universality of Truth [Book Review]

Human Studies 34 (4):393-406 (2011)
Although the success of Habermas’s theory of communicative action depends on his dialogical model of understanding in which a theorist is supposed to participate in the debate with the actors as a ‘virtual participant’ and seek context-transcendent truth through the exchange of speech acts, current literature on the theory of communicative action rarely touches on the difficulties it entails. In the first part of this paper, I will examine Habermas’s argument that understanding other cultural practices requires the interpreter to virtually participate in the “dialogue” with the actors as to the rationality of their cultural practice and discuss why, according to Habermas,such dialogue leads to the “context-transcendent truth”. In the second part, by using a concrete historical example, I will reconstruct a “virtual dialogue” between Habermas and Michael Polanyi as to the rationality of scientific practice and indicate why Habermas’s dialogical model of understanding based on the methodology of virtual participation cannot achieve what it professes to do
Keywords Theory of communicative action  Performative understanding  Virtual participation  Dialogue  Universality of Truth
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10746-011-9200-2
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,411
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Michael Polanyi (1958). Personal Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

View all 20 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Jari I. Niemi (2005). Habermas and Validity Claims. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 13 (2):227 – 244.
S. Levine (2010). Habermas, Kantian Pragmatism, and Truth. Philosophy and Social Criticism 36 (6):677-695.
Lawrence B. Solum (1989). Freedom of Communicative Action. Northwestern University Law Review 83 (1):54-135.
Joseph Heath (1998). What is a Validity Claim? Philosophy and Social Criticism 24 (4):23-41.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

38 ( #126,782 of 1,924,732 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #308,315 of 1,924,732 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.