Entry: [art] HABERMAS, PUBLIC SPHERE, AND COMMUNICATIVE-ACTION THEORY. Eurocentrism or universalism?. Shelton A. Gunaratne Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mass Communications Department, Minnesota State University, Moorhead, USA


Habermas’s reconstruction of the concepts of public sphere and civil society, as well as

his grand theory of communicative action, suffer from the same weaknesses as the now

discredited developmental theory built upon the concept of modernization. Both theories

lean solely on European historical experience despite their claim for universalism. The

theory of communicative action, wherein Habermas has now implanted the public sphere,

is the product of merging philosophy of history and empirical social science—an attempt

"to free historical materialism from its philosophical ballast," according to Habermas,

and "less a promise than a conjecture." This essay documents that Habermas’s grand

theory is not universally applicable because it is the victim of Eurocentric verticality. A

universally applicable theory will have to be invariably grounded in the ontological,

epistemological, and historical reservoir of both the West and the non-West.

Keywords / civil society / Eurocentric verticality / Habermas / non-Western philosophy /

public sphere / rationality / theory of communicative action

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Fuente: [ANZCA03 Conference, Brisbane, July 2003]


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