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Universal Pragmatics and Historical Materialism

Jóhann P. Árnason
Acta Sociologica
Vol. 25, No. 3 (1982), pp. 219-233
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4194408
Page Count: 15
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Universal Pragmatics and Historical Materialism
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Abstract

The two key components of Habermas's research programme are the theory of communicative action and the theory of sociocultural evolution. They converge in the analysis of world views and their transformation. The 'pace-setting' role of world views in the evolutionary process is based on their progressive thematization of the structures and horizons of social action. This 'logic of growing insight' culminates in the fully differentiated modern world view. To avoid relativistic implications, Habermas proposes to ground the core of modern interpretative systems -- the distinction between external nature, society and internal nature -- in general presuppositions of communication, as well as in the general conditions of existence of the human species. This project lays itself open to two kinds of criticism: it can be shown that Habermas relies on a selective and artificially closed image of modernity, and that he subsumes the anthropological context of communication and production under this preconceived model.

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