David Kolb

Heidegger and Habermas on Criticism and Totality

Publication: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. LII, no. 2, 1992, 683-693.

Habermas criticizes Heidegger for insulating totalities of meaning from possible overturning by attempts to invalidate individual claims. I first state Habermas’s criticism, then elaborate an example from Heideggerthat supports Habermas’s attack. Then I defend Heidegger by distinguishing levels of meaning in Heidegger’s “world” from Habermas’s more propositional “lifeworld.” I conclude by accepting Habermas’s objection restated in terms of the contrast between transcendental and local conditions. If Heidegger is unwilling to pay the price of either Kantian generality or Hegelian unity, he should give up the simple priority of his epochal understandings of being.

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