Habermas and Aesthetics: The Limits of Communicative Reason

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9780745631202: Habermas and Aesthetics: The Limits of Communicative Reason

In this important new study, Pieter Duvenage shows that Habermas’s work on aesthetics, far from being marginal to his core concerns, is central to understanding and evaluating Habermas's entire theoretical enterprise.


  • This important new study shows that Habermas's work on aesthetics is central to understanding and evaluating his entire theoretical enterprise.
  • Duvenage demonstrates that, in the first phase of his intellectual career, Habermas emphasizes the communicative and societal relevance of art; in the second phase, the idea of a communicative aesthetics is worked out in terms of a theory of rationality.
  • Reveals that Habermas’s later work offers a third, albeit undeveloped, alternative that suggests a convergence of the two.
  • Offers a critical perspective on the role of aesthetics in Habermas's work and proposes possible alternatives.

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While Habermas’s philosophy of communicative action is well known among philosophers and social scientists, his aesthetics – that is, his views on art, literature, and culture – has received little attention. In his important new study, Pieter Duvenage fills this gap and shows that Habermas’s work on aesthetics, far from being marginal to his core concerns, is central to understanding and evaluating his entire theoretical enterprise.

Duvenage reconstructs Habermas’s aesthetics in terms of two intellectual phases. In the first, Habermas follows an open-ended model which emphasizes the communicative and societal relevance of art. In the second, which correlates with his linguistic turn in the 1970s, the idea of a communicative aesthetics is worked out in terms of a theory of rationality. In this process Habermas assigns aesthetic rationality to a more restricted place within his overall model of communicative rationality. This position, the fate of aesthetics, is further elaborated in his debate with postmodern thinkers. In the last part of the study Duvenage offers a critical perspective on the role of aesthetics in Habermas’s work and proposes possible alternatives. He contrasts Habermas’s early writings on aesthetics, which viewed art as a material force for public illumination, with his more mature writings, which narrowly revolve around art as a form of subjective expression. Duvenage shows that Habermas’s later work offers a third, albeit undeveloped, alternative that suggests a convergence of these two views.


This book, which exhibits tremendous range and scholarship, will interest scholars of Habermas, Critical Theory, aesthetics, German and French philosophy, cultural and media studies, and those interested in modern art and its relation to modernity

About the Author:

Pieter Duvenage is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa.

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Book Description Polity Press, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this important new study, Pieter Duvenage shows that Habermas s work on aesthetics, far from being marginal to his core concerns, is central to understanding and evaluating Habermasa s entire theoretical enterprise. * This important new study shows that Habermasa s work on aesthetics is central to understanding and evaluating his entire theoretical enterprise. * Duvenage demonstrates that, in the first phase of his intellectual career, Habermas emphasizes the communicative and societal relevance of art; in the second phase, the idea of a communicative aesthetics is worked out in terms of a theory of rationality. * Reveals that Habermas s later work offers a third, albeit undeveloped, alternative that suggests a convergence of the two. * Offers a critical perspective on the role of aesthetics in Habermasa s work and proposes possible alternatives. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780745631202

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Book Description Polity Press, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this important new study, Pieter Duvenage shows that Habermas s work on aesthetics, far from being marginal to his core concerns, is central to understanding and evaluating Habermas s entire theoretical enterprise. This important new study shows that Habermas s work on aesthetics is central to understanding and evaluating his entire theoretical enterprise. Duvenage demonstrates that, in the first phase of his intellectual career, Habermas emphasizes the communicative and societal relevance of art; in the second phase, the idea of a communicative aesthetics is worked out in terms of a theory of rationality. Reveals that Habermas s later work offers a third, albeit undeveloped, alternative that suggests a convergence of the two. Offers a critical perspective on the role of aesthetics in Habermas s work and proposes possible alternatives. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780745631202

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