This article asks what it means to claim that secular reason is “postmetaphysical” and differentiates among understandings of that notion in Jürgen Habermas’s work. The article considers what secular reason would have to achieve to make good on the claim that it still can provide us with such a comprehensive understanding or worldview. From a theoretical standpoint, we should explore how reality has to be understood for us to understand self and world; from a practical standpoint, we need to ask which attitudes we would actually have to adopt toward reality to find in it the kind of orientation that Habermas believes his version of secular reason holds in store. The article concludes by showing that Habermas’s thesis that secular reason can survive only in the form of a tradition that reaches back to either Immanuel Kant or David Hume is problematic because it neglects a third alternative, namely, a revised Aristotelianism.

There can be little doubt that Jürgen Habermas’s new, two-volume work, This Too a History of Philosophy, is a major achievement. One would have to search long and hard through the history of the discipline to find a comparably significant and provocative book, both in the sheer breadth of its historical scope and in the argumentative rigor with which it excavates the developmental process that is its central theme. One might, of course, think of Max Weber, who sought to trace the emergence of occidental rationalism with a journey through the ethical doctrines of the world religions. Yet the great sociologist neither took any particular interest in the internal discursive structure of religious doctrines nor had the opportunity to set out his considerable learning in a single, systematic monograph. A more fruitful comparison might be with G. W. F. Hegel’s historical reconstructions of various branches of absolute spirit. Yet his history of religion unfortunately suffers from a relative poverty of source materials and is, moreover, conspicuously oriented toward the triumphal march of Protestantism; his history of philosophy, meanwhile, is too strongly demarcated from that of religion to offer meaningful points of contact with Habermas’s enterprise.

For Habermas’s project is to convince us that the essential premises of secular reason derive from either an empiricist dissolution of the contents of religion or their translation into a postmetaphysical language, and he seeks to do so by tracing a history, stretching right back to the axial age, of the debate over the relation between faith and knowledge. It is hard to overstate quite how much can be gained from his sixteen-hundred-page exploration of long-forgotten disputes surrounding the rightful jurisdiction of human versus divine authority over questions of good and evil, truth and falsehood. Anyone who has read even half the book will come away with a treasure trove of new insights. And anyone who might try to dismiss the work with a few broad-based objections will soon find that they come up short. Habermas can hardly be blamed, for example, if his account of the protracted argument over the relation between faith and knowledge culminates in a concept of communicative action1—for would it not be rather counterintuitive to attempt a rational reconstruction of the history of philosophy, only to conclude that the “learning process” (Lernprozess) it uncovers leads toward a position at odds with one’s own? It would be equally misplaced to accuse Habermas of being so eager to reveal the history of occidental thought as a progressive and educative one that he forgets to consider the colonial and thus violent roots of the very lessons he succeeds in extracting. Not only do we find an admission early on in the book that he has neglected the “topic of ‘unreason in history’” (AGP, 1:174), where he indeed explicitly seeks to do justice to the postcolonial challenge (AGP, 1:110–36), but the objection utterly misses the very goal of the entire undertaking, which is to comprehend an “irregular succession of contingently triggered learning processes” (AGP, 1:16).

Consequently, those who find themselves placed in the role of commentator face a rather tricky task. For it is by no means obvious how the unified whole that is this great work might be broken down in a way that opens up entry points for critical questioning. And it is far from easy to find a study of comparable depth and ambition that might serve as an object of critical comparison. General reservations of the kind I have already mentioned are easily deflected by the impressive cogency of the work as a whole and the compelling nature of its argument. And in light of that overall argumentation, minor quibbles (e.g., that this or that argument in Hegel or Thomas Aquinas has not been reproduced with complete accuracy) can only come across as unintentionally humorous. There thus remains little choice but to dispense with any grandiloquent gestures and, in full awareness of one’s own limitations, look for an appropriate toehold for critical engagement. One such starting point might be Habermas’s forceful assertion that secular reason in its postmetaphysical form can inherit a chief task of religious worldviews, namely, of providing us with an understanding of our relation both to the world and to ourselves. This claim, already announced in the preface (AGP, 1:12–13), runs through the book as a guiding thread and is explicitly recalled at its central stages.

In what follows I examine this aim of Habermas’s investigation. Can the version of secular reason he characterizes as postmetaphysical really provide us children of modernity with a comprehensive self- and world understanding? I begin my brief comments with the question of what precisely one claims about secular reason in describing it as “postmetaphysical.” There are various possible ways to understand this characterization, some stronger than others, but there needs to be clarity on this issue to address my second question. What would secular reason really have to achieve to make good on its claim that it can still provide us with a comprehensive understanding of our relation both to ourselves and to the world? I split this question along two dimensions: from a theoretical standpoint, we should explore how reality has to be understood to allow us to attain a consistent understanding of self and world; from a practical standpoint, we need to ask which attitudes we would actually have to adopt toward reality to find in it the kind of orientation that Habermas believes his version of secular reason holds in store. In a third step I follow up on these practical considerations by asking whether, at the level of everyday praxis, an orienting conception of self and world in this day and age does not in fact demand more than Habermas seems to have in mind in his book. To give my doubts in this regard an immanent form, I want to consider what we might call the “sociological” insights that religious traditions have to offer about the presuppositions of genuinely orienting worldviews. Finally, I return—albeit indirectly—to the meaning of postmetaphysical and cast some doubt on the Habermasian thesis that a secular reason can survive only in the form of a tradition that reaches back either to Immanuel Kant or to David Hume; I want to question whether this division is exhaustive and briefly bring a third alternative into play.

Habermas has long designated his own conception of a communicative reason as postmetaphysical to stress that its justification must not depend on any kind of “metaphysical” premise. Yet it was always a little unclear what exactly was meant by the concept metaphysics and, accordingly, by the adjective postmetaphysical.2 In his new work, he once again takes up this characterization and now understands it as a condition that a reason liberated from any religious connection—thus: secular reason—has to be able to fulfill if it is to claim universal validity. However, what it means to designate a conception of reason as postmetaphysical remains as elusive as ever. I can see two possibilities for understanding Habermas’s deployment of the expression in this new context. Habermas could mean that a conception of reason is postmetaphysical if it makes the determination of what such reason can regard as a valid or invalid argument dependent on methods that are empirical in the broadest sense of the term. The methods that would then have to be regarded as legitimate for delineating the domain of “rational” thought and action could include conventional observational procedures as well as the procedure of “reconstruction” favored by Habermas himself, which attempts to uncover the everyday competencies and abilities that participants always already have to possess in the form of implicit knowledge.3 This broader understanding of postmetaphysical contrasts with a narrower one, however, which makes no reference to the methodological procedure for obtaining statements about reason but instead concerns the internal properties of reason itself: reason can be conceived as postmetaphysical only if it operates solely with a specific sort of particular reason, in the sense of ground or justification. Reasons, on this conception, have to be, say, publicly available, constitutively fallible and thus independent of any connection that would transcend the horizon of our shared knowledge. One could also, therefore, characterize the difference between these two conceptions by saying that the first allows for a larger space of reasons that count as compatible with a postmetaphysical attitude than does the second. If, that is, what encompasses the domain of the rational is equated with that of which we judging and acting participants in a common way of life possess implicit knowledge, then this domain may be more comprehensive than one comprising particular reasons whose legitimacy depends on their being fallible and thus compatible with the current state of scientific knowledge.

Quite how significant the difference is between these two definitions can be brought out through an everyday example: according to the first definition, maintaining an internal dialogue with the recently deceased would be entirely compatible with the conditions of postmetaphysical reason. For we generally still have an implicit knowledge of the significance and application of the kind of practice this represents. Hardly anyone familiar with and socialized within our way of life would level the charge of “unreason” or irrationality at someone engaging in this way with a recently deceased relative, say.4 Things look different, though, if we apply the more substantial characterization of postmetaphysical reason: the reasons the relative could adduce to justify such behavior would be neither fallible nor, in a more narrow sense, publicly accessible, as they would be incompatible with our scientific knowledge. In the part of the book in which Habermas once again presents his concept of postmetaphysical thinking, I can find no unequivocal answer to the question thrown up by this alternative. He states, to be sure, that our reason consists “in operating with all reasons by which the human mind can be influenced in its dealings with others and the world” (AGP, 1:173), but in elaborating this thought, he simply repeats what we already know about permissible reasons of this kind from other contexts, namely, that they have to be “contestable,” “secular,” and “publicly available.” But does this do justice to the case in question, in which behavior that perhaps strikes us as odd can at best be justified with reasons that, in light of our scientific certainties, would have to count as refuted?

Even if it cannot be made here, a decision between these alternatives is of considerable importance for tackling the next issue I want to turn to: whether and to what extent a now secular reason can continue to claim to provide us with a comprehensive understanding of ourselves and the world.

One of the strongest assertions Habermas makes in his book is surely that in defending a secular understanding of reason, philosophy can take over the task of religion and help provide us unsettled creatures of modernity with a stabilizing orientation in relation to our own selves and the world. This commitment may come as a surprise to those who have always seen Habermas as a dyed-in-the-wool proceduralist, but it forms the conceptual vanishing point, as it were, of the earlier essays dedicated to the task of modern philosophy.5 Yet now, for all the confidence that his book radiates in this respect, Habermas is quite clear about the central crux of his thesis on the orienting function of secular reason. For he knows, of course, that ever since Kant, the greatest challenge for every attempt to equip philosophy with the power to deliver an understanding of self and world consists in the following: to explain to us anxiety-ridden creatures why we should see ourselves as in some way borne along, supported, or even inspired in our various strivings by a causally explicable natural process. Translated into the language of contemporary philosophy, an appropriate formulation of this originally Kantian problem would be how our causal conception of nature is meant to be compatible with our simultaneous desire to understand ourselves as beings endowed with reason and destined for freedom. Is there not such a deep chasm between our natural-scientific outlook and our self-image as self-determining subjects that we are no longer able to achieve a comprehensive understanding of our place in the world?6

This problem occupied Kant incessantly in his later years, and he developed a series of hypotheses for bridging the opposition between freedom and the nomological conception of nature. Habermas’s more extensive treatment of Kant’s attempted solutions focuses on the latter’s philosophy of religion. By contrast, Habermas manifests a certain indifference to the Königsberg philosopher’s political and historical writings, which receive a much more marginal treatment in the book (AGP, chap. 13, sec. 4). This selective focus already leads one to suspect that Habermas thinks little of attempts to circumvent the natural sciences to outline a picture of natural processes that is easier to reconcile with our self-conception. For this is indeed what Kant attempted in those political and historical texts in which he spoke, in an explicitly hypothetical register, of how nature could be well intentioned toward us and thus, behind our backs, as it were, have made various provisions to promote our moral well-being.7 Yet Habermas shows little interest in these late Kantian speculations—not, to be sure, because he wishes to avoid the extra interpretive labor, but because he is fundamentally suspicious of this kind of solution. So much becomes clear when, some 350 pages later, he turns to the cosmological reflections of Charles Sanders Peirce.

The pragmatism of Peirce plays a particular role in Habermas’s genealogy, because the former’s theory of signs supposedly represents a completion of the program initiated by Hegel and energetically pursued by Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, and Ludwig Feuerbach, namely, of detranscendentalizing Kant’s conception of reason. In Peirce, the communicative practice that Hegel’s disciples saw as the medium and foundation of Geist’s gradual self-emancipation becomes the protracted process of intelligent problem-solving, in which the successful research findings of one generation are handed down to the next with the aid of linguistically fixed interpretations; in this way, the general idea of humanity’s gradual approximation to a complete cognition of reality emerges (AGP, chap. 10, sec. 4). Yet, as Habermas very nicely spells out, the late Peirce found himself dissatisfied with this conception of a cooperative learning process that unfolds at the level of the species; he thought it scarcely plausible and even absurd that the interpretive activity of problem-solving should have begun all of a sudden with human beings, as though out of nothing; it must surely have prior manifestations in prehuman nature. Yet by thematizing this disagreement, Peirce was unexpectedly confronted with the very problem that had already tormented the late Kant. In Habermas’s words, the pragmatist faced the difficulty of having to explain “how to bridge the epistemic dualism between the objectifying access of the observer to physically measurable objects on the one hand with the sense-making/hermeneutical access of virtual participants to conceptually generated, sociocultural lifeforms on the other” (AGP, 2:746–47).

As is well known, Peirce’s proposal for eradicating this gulf consisted in developing a cosmology in which the operations of the mind, mediated by signs, are supposed to have already gained a foothold in nature prior to the emergence of human beings. Setting a precedent for John Dewey’s Experience and Nature,8 which appeared a good decade later, Peirce thought it both reasonable and correct to understand natural development as increasingly complex interactions between entities whose intrinsic natures are enriched through that very process. Habermas, to be sure, regards these elaborate speculations with the utmost skepticism, as he assumes that they are incompatible with postmetaphysical reason; without asking what grounds Peirce and Dewey could have derived from their own pragmatism for ascribing a communicative learning process to nature itself, he takes the “naturalism problem” originally raised by Kant to be irresolvable, at least for the time being (AGP, 2:747–48). Before turning to the question of whether this rejection could be tied to too narrow an interpretation of postmetaphysical, I first want to consider what consequences Habermas’s avoidance of the naturalism problem might have for his project as a whole. In doing so, I shall, as mentioned above, separate practical from theoretical issues.

From a theoretical perspective, the problem Habermas confronts by not trying to close the gap between—to put it simply—natural causality and communicative reason is perfectly clear: his insistence on enthroning secular reason as an authority that, by equipping us with an encompassing understanding of self and world, assumes the inheritance of religion, is bound to fail for want of an explanation of what position we occupy within nature as a whole. Without being able to understand how our rational capacities and practices are supposed to have emerged from natural evolution, a deep chasm opens up in our worldview, and we end up finding ourselves imprisoned in a room with soundproof walls. Surrounded by a nature that is accessible only in causal terms, and thus from the outside, we can grasp neither where we reason-endowed beings come from nor where we, in virtue of our rational capacities, are meant to be going. However, it is not just the consequence of such cognitive homelessness that makes it questionable whether Habermas is in a position to make good on his promise; in light of his aim of having secular reason assume the stabilizing role of religion, the practical ramifications of retaining the gulf between natural causality and communicative reason are at least equally grave.

The function of a stable and comprehensive understanding of self and world is not exhausted in offering human beings plausible explanations of their place within nature more broadly: just as important is the task of transmitting to them a sense that their communicative efforts to improve their condition in the long or short term are not without prospects of success. This second, practical function demands of such an orienting self- and worldview that it provide people with a certain degree of confidence that they possess the powers and capacities necessary for exercising control over both their own behavior and their social and natural environment. Yet if nature is understood merely as a blind, nomologically determined totality diametrically opposed to our communicative reason, then nothing outside our own, narrowly circumscribed sphere of control can substantiate our expectation that our rationally guided strivings could ever be crowned with lasting success and thereby reliably effect social progress. To this extent, an understanding of self and world that allows for a deep gulf between nature and communicative reason is hardly equipped to grant us much confidence in the efficacy of our rational endeavors. This, moreover, was what led Dewey to dedicate one of his late writings to the idea of a “common faith.” He wanted this to be understood as the attitude of a purely immanent, worldly faith; it is what remains of the feeling of comfort and reassurance in and through God once stripped of any specific traits of transcendence.9 So far as Dewey was concerned, this kind of mundane trust in the ultimate success of our common strivings could be achieved only if nature were no longer regarded as a causally determined series of events wholly indifferent to our existence but as a process that is intelligently organized from the very beginning and which leads toward humanity. With such an understanding, he was convinced, we can interpret our cooperative intellectual endeavors as the continuation of a drive already active in nature, which aims at the enhancement of adaptive capacities and integration of the environment. This, moreover, would also put us in a position to summon the collective courage to persist in our attempts at establishing a form of coexistence freed from need and coercion. For Dewey, understanding nature as a process geared to the removal of obstacles to communication and advancing the further democratization of all spheres of life were one and the same thing.

The orientation to the intellectual legacy of pragmatism might also be helpful if we now turn to a further conspicuous feature of Habermas’s attempt to show how his conception of secular reason can inherit religion’s power to generate worldviews. On the one hand, Habermas states time and again that, in light of an essentially indeterminate future, one must continually reassess which components of religious traditions might be fruitfully translated into the language of secular reason. On the other hand, his reflections occasionally make it sound as though he were secretly of the opinion that this process of philosophically appropriating the heritage of religion has found a provisional, perhaps even definitive end in his conception of communicative reason. When Habermas surveys the theories of Feuerbach, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Peirce to clarify four aspects of his own concept of reason, one has the impression that he regards this as completing his exposition. Yet this only makes it all the more remarkable that he seems utterly unimpressed by a further insight to be won from religious traditions, one which would also have to be absorbed by secular reason: namely, that to be shared and taken to heart, a comprehensive understanding of our self- and world relation requires constant confirmation and reconfirmation through collective rituals. The self- and world image that Habermas commends to us with his conception of secular reason seems to make do without any such support, for nowhere in his book is the question so much as broached of whether it might be advisable, in light of the pluralism and pace of our contemporary lifeworld, to take on board this “sociological” insight bequeathed by religious traditions, namely, that such comprehensive, collectively shared understandings become stably established via ritual practices. By contrast, the point was taken up by Dewey and William James when, like Habermas, they asked how a democratic understanding of self and world might be durably anchored in a society. Both came to believe that any lasting stabilization of a society’s cooperative dispositions was possible only if we could find a mundane replacement for those solemn, symbolically rich acts with which religions are able to bind collectives through the power of their messages of salvation. Dewey and James were therefore always on the lookout for signs of emerging ritual practices in their own social environment, practices in which the collective spirit of a democratic unity could be celebrated in secular form.10

Yet Habermas’s book does not so much as mention the need for philosophy to inherit this “sociological” motivational potential from religion. He concludes his attempt at finding a suitable translation for the legacy of religion without posing the question of whether the binding power of ritual might merit some consideration in a postmetaphysical setting. This downplaying of the significance of ritual practices, however, has a long history in Habermas’s work. Certain discussions of his Theory of Communicative Action already noted how he paid too little attention to the question of whether communicative rationality might not require more in the way of a binding force that could be secured through consensus-oriented action alone.11 Whatever validity these older objections might have, Habermas’s new book still owes us an explanation of why his discussion of a philosophical appropriation of religious traditions breaks off before their reasons for cherishing ritual practices can come into view.

If this omission has—at best—an only indirect bearing on the issue of what it means to say that modern secular reason has to be postmetaphysical, my final point returns to this topic explicitly. The question I want to pose is how convincing we should find what for Habermas is a central thesis: that the essential premises of all postmetaphysical philosophizing derive from a learning process revolving around the relation between faith and knowledge. The justification for this bold hypothesis goes as follows: both legitimate variants of such philosophizing, the empiricism going back to Hume and the conception of reason going back to Kant, arose from an either destructive or productive-appropriative engagement with the legacy of Christianity (AGP, 1:28–37). Hume supposedly found the empiricist premises of his philosophy through a destruction of theological tradition, while Kant, we are told, derived the essential premises of his conception of reason in translating Christian notions into a postmetaphysical idiom (AGP, chap. 8, secs. 1–4). Neither of these two philosophical alternatives would therefore have emerged, Habermas wants to say, without an engagement with religious tradition; both owe an essential debt, be it positive or negative, to this gradual process of determining the relation between knowledge and faith. What is striking about this phase of the Habermasian genealogy is not his derivation of these two forms of postmetaphysical reason in terms of different efforts to overcome religious belief but that there are meant to be just these two fundamental alternatives for secular philosophy. To find this restriction somewhat dubious, one need only think of the various contemporary attempts to reclaim elements of Aristotelian philosophy with the help of tools borrowed from the modern philosophy of language.12 If we are scanning the currently available alternatives within the horizon of postmetaphysical thought, why not include this variant of Aristotelianism that, after all, has been developed from a secular perspective and proceeds through an analysis of our linguistic usage? If one follows Habermas’s preferred genealogy, such an option is excluded, because the relevant philosophical paradigm does not fit the schema of positions derived from a self-conscious reckoning with the Christian legacy. Even if this neo-Aristotelianism were innocent of any trace of traditional metaphysics, it still could not count as a serious alternative for philosophical self-understanding, because it was developed independently of the centuries-long debate over the relation between faith and reason.

At this point, however, the question arises of whether Habermas’s exclusion of any such third variety of secular reason is conditioned not only by his genealogical schema but also by his ambivalent characterization of the postmetaphysical. The contemporary revival of Aristotelianism fully abandons the presupposition of an “objective” teleology. Instead, it operates on the premise that we intuitively and almost unavoidably regard all life as purposively organized and therefore as possessing internal standards of flourishing and failure; as Michael Thompson tries to show, we humans understand ourselves and other creatures in Aristotelian terms.13 Now, should this new Aristotelianism, which proceeds through an analysis of the presuppositions of our linguistic practice, be designated as metaphysical or postmetaphysical in Habermas’s sense? If we work with his more general, proceduralist definition, which is concerned with the method of arriving at statements about reason, then this kind of Aristotelianism can certainly count as postmetaphysical, for it arrives at its claim that the use of an Aristotelian vocabulary is indispensable for our practical thought and action through a reconstruction of participants’ implicit knowledge of the rules of their everyday practices. The situation looks different, however, if we draw on Habermas’s narrower definition: it then seems at the very least questionable whether this kind of Aristotelianism counts as postmetaphysical, because it makes assertions that, for now, are incompatible with our natural-scientific knowledge. Therefore the fact that Habermas admits only empiricism and a Kantian conception of reason as available variants of postmetaphysical thought may also be connected to his tendency to privilege the second, narrower, determination of “postmetaphysical” over the first, more liberal one. In line with this more restrictive definition, neo-Aristotelianism has to count as “metaphysical” and thus has to be excluded from the set of permissible modes of contemporary thought.

By way of conclusion, we can now return to the decisive question of whether Habermas is right to deem the kind of speculative philosophy of nature advocated by a Dewey or a Peirce incompatible with the demands of postmetaphysical thought. It was the rejection of such an option, as I have shown, that casts doubt on whether Habermas can in fact entrust the conception of secular reason he has developed over the years with the task of generating a stable worldview. Taking this option would have required a processual conception of nature that runs contrary to currently dominant scientism, a conception that understands nature as culminating in and, as it were, sustaining human beings. Only such a conception could close the gap between natural causality and communicative freedom and so remove this enduring obstacle to achieving an understanding of self and world. The ultimate and decisive ground for Habermas’s refusal to take the step toward embracing such a view of nature is that he sees himself bound by the narrower, less liberal definition of postmetaphysical. This closes off the option of asking, in the methodological form of a reconstruction, whether we competent participants in the practices constitutive of our lifeworld might not in fact, at an intuitive level, encounter and conceptualize the natural environment in a way that differs from that of the currently prevalent natural sciences. This was Dewey’s path in Experience and Nature, and he fully intended to proceed “postmetaphysically”; he wanted to investigate the categorial structure of our everyday experience of nature and came to the conclusion that nature shows itself to be more “communicative” and responsive to humanity than any talk of natural causality suggests.14

Building on such an analysis of our intuitive understanding of nature, Dewey proceeded to draw on what were then recent natural-scientific findings to lend “objective” support to the insights obtained from the participant perspective and set out an alternative picture of natural development. The result of this synthesis of “subjective” and “objective” perspectives was the aforementioned idea that nature, on account of its effective tendency to promote interactive relations and “intelligent” feedback mechanisms, is geared to the production of specifically human communication and thus itself makes an evolutionary contribution to the emergence of a “democratic” mode of control and governance. As for Peirce, his later cosmology was certainly not some figment of pure, empirically ungrounded speculation. Just like his younger ally, he too took his orientation above all from the content of our everyday experience of nature and, in the light of his analyses, went on to seek natural-scientific evidence that could support the idea of nature as an intelligent process that mediates communicative relations so to speak. This notion need count as “metaphysical” only given a prior commitment to the narrow definition of the term, according to which the deployment of reasons (as yet) unsupported by the natural sciences marks a foray into forbidden territory. By contrast, one might consider accounts that begin from the participant perspective so as to reconstruct our intuitive knowledge of our capacities, competencies, and means of accessing the world as innocent of any metaphysics; if so, then the conceptions of nature developed by Dewey and Peirce can count as fully compatible with the conditions of postmetaphysical thought. To this extent, Habermas could have better supported the central aim of his genealogical enterprise of recommending secular reason as a postreligious source for understanding self and world, had he followed his more liberal definition of the postmetaphysical. This would have allowed, by his own premises, a greater range of alternatives to a scientistic understanding of nature, alternatives that do justice to the integrity of our understanding of both ourselves and the world.

Notes

1.

The first chapter already indicates that this will represent the culmination of the entire reconstruction: Habermas, Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie, 1:35 (hereafter cited as AGP).

2.

For some excellent discussions of the many meanings of metaphysics, of which Habermas takes too little account, see Wenzel, Vom Ersten und Letzten. See especially the contributions by Emil Angehrn and Paul Burger.

3.

This is the sole meaning of postmetaphysical that features in James Gordon Finlayson’s excellent analysis Habermas versus Rawls Debate.

4.

For a discussion of this practice and similar examples, see Honneth, “Disempowering Reality.” 

6.

Such is John McDowell’s formulation of this problem, which already unsettled Kant (Mind and World ).

10.

In the revised version of his Ethics, Dewey states that “ritual is the great positive agent. It works by forming habits, and operates through associations formed by actually doing certain acts, usually under conditions which appeal to the emotions” (Ethics, 53). The significance of ritual especially for the social integration of modern societies was emphasized even more strongly by Durkheim’s followers.

13.

See Thompson’s account of his Aristotelianism in Life and Action, 9–13.

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