Religion, rationality, and language : a critical analysis of Jürgen Habermas' theory of communicative action

Jurgen Habermas is a second-generation social philosopher of the Frankfurt school, the birthplace of critical theory. He suggests that modernity is a project of substituting rationality for religion. In his analysis, such a succession is the result of a process of social evolution, in which each developmental stage has its basic concepts and modes of understanding subjective, objective, and social worlds. For him, the salient feature of rationality consists of differentiation between various validity claims of truth, truthfulness, and sincerity which are indistinguishable in religious language. The rationalization of religion, hence, progresses in terms of a differentiation between validity claims, a decentration of human understanding, the disenchantment of the world, and the linguistification of the sacred. Habermas proposes a universal pragmatics in which two modes of language use are separated: instrumental-strategic, and communicative. He thinks that the failure of the enlightenment movement to replace religion with reason stems from its preoccupation with instrumental reason and language use, dispensing with communicative rationality; and the remedy lies in communicative rationality.
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