Recovering the Individual: Subjectivity or Intersubjectivity as a Framework for Critical Theory?

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J├╝rgen Habermas has argued systematically for the replacement of the philosophy of the subject with the paradigm of intersubjectivity as an appropriate framework for critical theory. This paper questions the efficacy and desirability of such a project. It examines weaknesses and problems at both the social-theoretical and philosophical levels of Habermas' position. The issues are addressed via a focus upon the relation between theory and practice, a central concern of critical theory. The claim is put forward that a renewed emphasis upon a philosophy of subjectivity is required to address the disconnection of theory and practice in Habermas' work. A brief consideration of difficulties in Axel Honneth's attempt to renovate the practical dimensions of critical theory suggests that the intersubjective paradigm poses insurmountable dilemmas for any manoeuvring remaining inside it.

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, Queensland 4072, Australia. E-mail:

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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