Best Known For:
- A philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism.
- His theory on the concepts of “communicative rationality” and the “public sphere.”
- His work on the concept of modernity.
Career and Retirement:
In 1964, Habermas became the chair of philosophy and sociology at the University of Frankfurt am Main. He remained there until 1971 in which he accepted a directorship at the Max Planck Institute in Starnberg. In 1983, Habermas returned to the University of Frankfurt and remained there until he retired in 1994.
Throughout his career, Habermas embraced the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, which views contemporary Western society as maintaining a problematic conception of rationality that is destructive in its impulse toward domination. His primary contribution to philosophy, however, is the development of a theory of rationality, a common element seen throughout his work. Habermas believes that the ability to use logic and analysis, or rationality, goes beyond the strategic calculation of how to achieve a certain goal. He stresses the importance of having an “ideal speech situation” in which people are able to raise moral and political concerns and defend them by rationality alone. This concept of the ideal speech situation was discussed and elaborated on in his 1981 book The Theory of Communicative Action.
Habermas has gained a great deal of respect as a teacher and mentor for many theorists in political sociology, social theory, and social philosophy. Since his retirement from teaching he has continued to be an active thinker and writer. He is currently ranked as one of the most influential philosophers in the world and is a prominent figure in Germany as a public intellectual, often commenting on controversial issue of the day in German newspapers. In 2007, Habermas was listed as the 7th most-cited author in the humanities by The Higher Times Education Guide.Major Publications:
- Structural Transformation and the Public Sphere (1962)
- Theory and Practice (1963)
- Knowledge and Human Interests (1968)
- Towards a Rational Society (1970)
- Legitimation Crisis (1973)
- Communication and the Evolution of Society (1979)
Jurgen Habermas - Biography. (2010). The European Graduate School. http://www.egs.edu/library/juergen-habermas/biography/
Johnson, A. (1995). The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers.