16-08-08

Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik

"Die(se) Differenzierung zwischen einem modernen und einem traditionalen Weltverständnis ist nur möglich, wenn konkurrierende Weltauslegungen nicht überhaupt inkomensurabel sind, wenn wir (..) die Übersetzungen von einem Kontext in in den anderen überhaupt zulassen. Genau das bestreitet der starke Kontextualismus. Ihm zufolge gibt es keine 'Rationalität' in der Einzahl. Nach dieser Auffassung wohnen verschiedene Kulturen, Weltbildern, Traditionen oder Lebensformen je besondere 'Rationalitäten' inne. Jede von ihnen soll mit dem Kontext eines besonderen Weltverständnisses intern verschränkt sein." J. Habermas, Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik, suhrkamp taschenbuch (1991), p. 208.

Amateuristic English translation below.


There are those who believe having a 'strong' moral view lies in strongly holding - a great many - moral views to be absolutely true. But nothing can be farther from the truth;  the more moral absolutes sneak into one's position the less one is open to a discussion with others - & the ultimate moral view is that one should be open to this discussion with others. Better & more concise: any moral view is about openness. To other's point of view but also to what might transpire in the future based on facts we do not know yet or on forms of living not discovered yet.

The problem people strongly collecting a great many moral absolutes see in this can be summed up in their exclamationary reply cry 'Moral Relativist!', or, a bit further in the debate 'You're so hopelessly naïve!". The former reply can serve as symptom to diagnose this type of immoral view, named by Rawls 'comprehensive doctrine', as it will be shouted regardless of the adversary merely by virtue of someone being seen as an adversary of one of the many moral absolutes held. When someone accuses you of moral relativism despite the fact you have given examples of situations that can only be seen one way, universally, she/he is on his/her way to radicalize her/his comprehensive doctrine into a stagnant pool of being right regardless of argument. Discussion will cease, pushed sufficiently the argument will become violent.

At that time, more or less, the insult of naïveté will be thrown in the arena. After all, if discussion has to go on, "what defense against totalitarianism or fundamentalism remains?" Here is a fundamental error: it is not because the potential for discussion is seen as the highest value that there are only cases in which discussion is the only possible response. This is obvious: if the other refuses to discuss (either literally or de facto, by reverting to rhetoric devices) there is no discussion & hence the answer cannot be to discuss. Whether the answer is violence is another matter alltogether - but one thing is clear: it can be violence if violence is the only way to restore value, i.e. open discussion.

In a nuclear metaphor: first strike is illegal but retaliation a no-brainer. It is a main characteristic of moral absolutists to buy into the right of first strike when facing the assumed moral adversary. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that fulfills itself as well for those who vehemently (& rightly so) oppose the notion of prophecy.

So yes, there is a moral absolute or better, a moral universal: rational discussion - we should not be tricked by the fact its discovery is relatively recent & hence it's not yet very widespread or well understood by many to believe it's naïve to restrict moral truth to discussion as the highest value. In fact, the opposite can only lead to moral relativism because it will presuppose that sometimes the value of debate is trumped by geographically and/or historically coincidental rationalities.

The convergence between linguistic philosophy (Davidson et al.) and moral/political philosophy (Rawls, Habermas, et al.) is where we can discover new creative ground - as is clear from the recent future, rational discussion may seem naïve but has rather a lot of force in overcoming coincidental roadblocks. The reason is simple: to live as a human is to talk with other humans - & to talk with other humans lis only possible in triangulating what they intend.

(to be improved, a lot)


"This distinction between a modern and a traditional world view is only then possible, when competing interpretations of the world are not simply incompatible, (..) when we admit at all translations from one context into another. That's precisely what strong contextualism denies. Following strong contextualism there is no 'rationality' in singular. According to this point of view different 'rationalitues' are inherent in different cultures, conceptions of the world, traditions or life forms. Each of these would be inherently locked up in the context of a specific world view."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Beethoven, Piano Sonatas (complete), Friedrich Gulda, Brilliant Classics - "Pastoral" & "Sturm".

21:06 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: language, habermas, convergence, universals |  Facebook |

De commentaren zijn gesloten.