The Foundations of Social Research

Michael Crotty Chapter 7 Critical Inquiry Continued

The Foundations of Social Research

Habermas claims that Adorno, in rejecting identity logic, ‘surrendered to an uninhibited scepticism concerning reason.’ Adorno, according to Habermas replaced reason with impulse, its opposite. Adorno disagrees claiming that his project is one that actually seeks to increase rationality by increasing

The Foundations of Social Research

Tensions between The Institute and Habermas Horkheimer’s hostility and Adorno’s weakness The issue of ‘reason,’ so central to negative dialectics lies also at the heart of Habermas’ relationship to the tradition of the Frankfurt school he joined in 1956

The Foundations of Social Research

Adorno and Horkheimer (Marcuse as well) depict Western society as a social and political economy, at once capitalist and bureaucratic, which reduces all social relations to the level of objectified and commodified administered systems. As they see it, the development of this form of society springs from the Enlightenment’s understanding of reason as instrumental rationality

The Foundations of Social Research

This is an understanding that decisively splits subject from object and looks, above all else, to gain control over nature and render it predictable. On the basis of this understanding, Horkheimer and particularly Adorno make refutation and rejection of identity thinking pivotal to their critique of capitalist society.

The Foundations of Social Research

Habermas had never shared the radically anti-capitalist stance of Horkheimer and Adorno. Nor does he want to reject reason as wholeheartedly as he believes Adorno has done. Seeking a praxis-oriented philosophy of history, beyond Marxist historical framework

The Foundations of Social Research

He wants a normative basis for critical theory Positive concept of reason (as opposed to negative concept) Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater (see inset p. 142) Critiques Marx

The Foundations of Social Research

Habermas posits a distinction between labor as instrumental action and social interaction as communicative action. These two forms of action constitute the basis for a three-fold typology of human knowledge. Central epistemological tenet: Human beings constitute their reality and organize their experience in terms of cognitive (or ‘knowledge-guiding’) interests.

The Foundations of Social Research

Habermas’ Three-Fold Typology of Human Action

Empirical Sciences led by a technical interest in predicting and controlling objectified processes-This is the realm of instrumental action The historico-hermeneutic sciences (social sciences) are guided by a practical interest in achieving intersubjective understanding In the critical sciences (psychoanalysis, philosophy?), which are governed by the intent to bring about emancipation from the relations of dependence that ideology in particular has set in place and that come to appear to us as natural.

The Foundations of Social Research

Three-Fold Typology in a nutshell:

The specific viewpoints from which we can apprehend reality as such in any way whatsoever are an orientation toward:
Technical control  Mutual understanding  emancipation

The Foundations of Social Research

Habermas and the linguistic turn
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Language and epistemology very intertwined the web to whose threads subjects cling and through which they develop into subjects in the first place Today the problem of language has taken the place of the traditional problem of consciousness What raises us out of nature is the only thing whose nature we can know: language.

The Foundations of Social Research
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Habermas Language-epistemologypragmatics/praxis-rationality McCarthy quote p. 143 inset Systematically distorted communication Theory of communicative competence Ideal speech situation

The Foundations of Social Research

Ideal Speech Situation: one that is free from systematic distortion, allows unimpaired self-presentation by participants, and is characterised by mutuality of expectations rather than onesided norms. Discourse is unrestrained and universal and enables an unconstrained consensus to emerge whereby the idea of truth can be analyzed.

The Foundations of Social Research
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Habermas: Theory of Discourse/Consensus theory of truth Discourse is distinguished from communicative action:

Communicative action is the interaction that takes place in everyday life and in it claims to validity are more or less naively accepted. Discourse, on the other hand, constitutes an unusual form of communication in which the participants subject themselves to the force of the better argument, with a view of coming to an agreement about the validity or invalidity of problematic claims

The Foundations of Social Research
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Habermas: In critical inquiry, it is discourse with which we should be concerned In discourse, the beliefs, norms and values that are taken for granted in everyday interaction are expressly thematized and subject to critique Discourses become institutionalized for certain domains: that of practical questions and political decisions (practicopolitico discourse)

The Foundations of Social Research

Universal Pragmatics and communicative ethics in Habermas’ thought.

Where there is consensus about norms that is free from constraint and representative of the common good, Habermas is ready to accord it universality i.e., a normative principle of universalization. The general and unavoidable—in this sense transcendental—conditions of possible understanding have a normative content The project of discovering and articulating these conditions is universal pragmatics

The Foundations of Social Research

So Habermas is concerned with communication competence, social evolution, systems theory, problem solving (pragmatics), social learning and development Reenvisioning historical materialism (ala Marx)

The Foundations of Social Research

Systems problems occur in any given society These create crises and demand a response The systems problems coemerge with learning processes in response to them, providing the dynamism of social development and processes of history

The Foundations of Social Research

Two dimensions to the processes of learning in Habermas social evolution theory
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Moral-practical knowledge (developments in the relations of production) Empirical-analytic knowledge (development in the forces of knowledge) Reenvisioning historical materialism: Theory materialist in that it makes reference to crisis-producing systems problems in the domain of production and reproduction; and the analysis remains historically oriented in so far as it has to seek the causes of evolutionary changes in the whole range of…contingent circumstances

The Foundations of Social Research

Focus of Habermas on the collision between economic and political imperatives and the communicative structures of the lifeworld Modernity is about justifying subjectcentered reason But, philosophy of language repudiates the subject How to reconcile this dilemma?

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Can the dilemmas of modernity be reframed in terms of a philosophy of language and a theory of communication? For Habermas, communicative reason is not the same as subjectcentered reason The structure of communicative discourse is emancipatory We can save modernity.

The Foundations of Social Research
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Paulo Freire Who was he? Reflection without action=‘verbalism’ Literacy and politics Freire does not begin by teaching his peasant groups the alphabet or by showing them how to spell words chosen for them to learn. He reverses the process. He learns their language first

The Foundations of Social Research

Conscientisation

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Learn the words that are meaningful to the people, words that evoke responses in them i.e., generative words Portray words in visual form Invite community to discuss Dissect these words and put together in different forms People realize they have power over their words and can exercise power over them

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To conscientise is to render conscious through awakening Critical consciousness, critical perception, critical thinking Freire defines critical thinking as “thinking which discerns an indivisible solidarity between the world and men.” Critical thinking “perceives reality as process and transformation, rather than as a static entity” It is “thinking which does not separate itself from action.”

The Foundations of Social Research

There is indivisible solidarity between humans and their world. No dichotomy can be made between the two. Authentic reflection considers neither abstract man nor the world without men, but men in their relations with the world. We are not only in the world but with the world, that is, essentially related

The Foundations of Social Research

Through us, the world has come to consciousness, and so the world is now subject not merely to natural evolution, but to an historical revolution in which human beings have a guiding hand. Freedom is not to realise absolute, abstract ideals as such, but the freedom to address themselves to their situation. To embody freedom in action, a person/persons must begin with the relationship they have with their world, the here and now, the situation with which they are submerged.

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They must emerge from that situation, reflect upon it, and intervene in it. Their current state is not unalterable, not fated, but merely limiting and therefore challenging. As a thinking and free being, the human being is in the world in a unique way: because they are thinking, they are historical, creative, free, and have a unique human presence on the planet. It is never merely a material universe… what humans do in the world never has just physical consequences.

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In constantly transforming the environment, women and men are shaping the very conditions of their existence and their life. Human beings have no nature, what they have is history There is no history for men, there is only history of men, made by men and in turn making them.

The Foundations of Social Research

Freire’s epistemology rejects:

Mechanistic objectivism, wherein consciousness is considered to be merely a copy of objective reality And solipsism, which reduces the world to a capricious creation of consciousness We must recognize the unity between subjectivity and objectivity in the act of knowing. Reality is never simply the objective datum, but is also peoples perception of it.

The Foundations of Social Research

Implications of Freire’s Epistemology

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Intentionality: The intentionality of consciousness means that consciousness is never a mere reflection of material reality, but is a reflection upon material reality Consciousness is already an active intervention into reality. Critical reflection is already action. Both activism and serious reflection are thus necessary in true praxis. They must also be simultaneous. Then they become creative.

The Foundations of Social Research

If humans are to take charge as subjects and not as mere objects of their own history, what direction are they to give to that history? If they must intervene in the reality of their own situation, to what end are they to intervene? What kind of transformation are they to effect?

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Humanization The historic task of human beings, and their central problem as well, is to become more fully human. Dehumanization is both a possibility and a historical reality Unlike animals, who cannot be deanimalized, humans can be dehumanized.

The Foundations of Social Research

Humans can fail to become fully human and can become less human in fact via exploitation, oppression, and through all forms of injustice, marking (and I would say dehumanizing) both those whose humanity is stolen and those who have stolen it. The great humanistic task of the oppressed is not only to liberate and humanize themselves, but to liberate and humanize their oppressors as well.

The Foundations of Social Research

Conscienticization

This is not an individual enterprise (even epistemologically speaking) Concienticization does not take place in abstract beings but in real people and in real social structures. The pursuit of full humanity cannot be carried out in isolation or in individualism, but can only take place in fellowship and in solidarity.

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Conscienticization requires dialogue Action/reflection need dialogue in order to occur Liberation cannot occur without dialogue Dialogue cannot exist without critical thinking (and vice versa) The banking concept of learning…vs. pedagogy of the oppressed

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Who are the oppressed? To Freire?

The masses upon whom, within culturally alienated societies, a regime of oppression is imposed by the power elites. What did Freire discover about the concept of the “third world” when he went to the United States? The oppressed belong to the culture of silence

The Foundations of Social Research

In the culture of silence, the oppressed are muted. They have no voice. The are excluded from any active role in the transformation of their society and are therefore prohibited from being. What is worse is that not only do they not have a voice, they are most likely not aware that they do not have a voice

The Foundations of Social Research

In the culture of silence, the oppressed internalize their oppression…what does this mean? In emerging from the culture of silence, donor-recipient solutions will fail, why? There must be dialogue, requiring trust (but not naïve trust) in the oppressed and their ability to reason Dialogue engages in problematization

The Foundations of Social Research

Problematicization requires demythicization Summary of critical inquiry on page 157, 158: How does it compare with my summary at the beginning of this section?

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