The Ontogenetic Fallacy: The Immanent Critique of Habermas's Developmental Logical Theory of Evolution

Theory, Culture and Society 9 (3):65-93 (1992)
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Since the emergence of neo-evolutionism in the 1960s, various critiques of the theory of social or socio-cultural evolution have been forwarded, including notably those of Immanuel Wallerstein, Alain Touraine and Anthony Giddens who decisively reject the idea of evolution. Within this context, Jürgen Habermas's theory of socio-cultural evolution has also become a specific object of critique, the best known in the English-speaking world being, perhaps, Michael Schmid's critique. While the latter is ultimately based on neo-Darwinistic assumptions which allow a non-Marxist alternative to be pitted against Habermas's position, a significant immanent critique has been taking shape during the late 1970s and 1980s the contours of which are at present starting to become visible, despite the fact that as yet it is nowhere developed and presented in a systematic manner. I have in mind here the work of younger authors belonging to the circle around Habermas, such as Johann Arnason, Axel Honneth, Hans Joas, Günter Frankenberg, Ulrich Rödel, and Klaus Eder, who have not only developed a critique of Habermas but are also engaged in developing an alternative to him within the framework of critical theory.



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