Stephen K. White
Jurgen Habermas is one of the foremost philosophers and social theorists in the world today. But the complexity and breadth of his thought make him often difficult to understand. In this book, Stephen White offers a clear, accessible, and reliable introduction to Habermas's work, particularly that which he has written since the publication of Knowledge and human interest (produced in English in 1971). During this period, new themes and directions have emerged in Habermas's thought, which culminated in The Theory of Communicative Action, a massive work that has not hitherto been the subject of extended commentary and analysis. This book is the first to provide a full-length study of Habermas's mature thought. Locating the latter in the context of contemporary debates, White explains Habermas's ideas about action, rationality, communicative ethics, contemporary capitalism, and new social movements, which characterize his later work.
He also examines Habermas's interpretation of modernity, showing that although, like his forerunners in the Frankfurt School, Habermas maintains a critical stance towards modernity's instrumentalization of reason, he nonetheless offers a sophisticated defense of the universal significance of other aspects of modern consciousness that are too often forgotten by many recent radical critics of modernity. Throughout, White presents Habermas's work in such a way as to emphasize its coherence, and to demonstrate how it constitutes the beginnings of a distinctive new research program in the social sciences. As a well-researched and lucid account of Habermas's thought, this book will appeal to readers wanting an introduction to the complexity of his ideas, as well as to those already conversant with them. It will also interest social and political theorists concerned with the general theoretical issues that it covers.