The Derrida-Habermas Reader
Jacques Derrida and Jürgen Habermas have long represented opposite camps in contemporary thought. Derrida, who pioneered the intellectual style of inquiry known as deconstruction, ushered in the postmodern age with his dramatic critique of reason; Habermas, on the other hand, has consistently argued in defense of reason, modernity, and the legacy of the Enlightenment. Their many differences led to a long-standing, if scattered, dialogue, evidence of which has been available in only bits and pieces. But now, for the first time, The Derrida-Habermas Reader brings these pieces together, along with a collection of essays documenting the intellectual relationship between two of the twentieth century’s preeminent thinkers.
Taken together, Derrida and Habermas’s writings—combined here with contributions by other prominent philosophers and social theorists—tell the story of the two thinkers’ provocative engagement with each other’s ideas. Beyond exploring the conflict between Derrida’s deconstruction and Habermas’s communicative rationality, they show how the Derrida-Habermas encounter changed over the years, becoming more theoretically productive without ever collapsing into mutual rejection or simple compromise.
Lasse Thomassen has divided the essays—including works on philosophy and literature, ethics, politics, and international law—into four parts that cover the full range of thought in which Derrida and Habermas engaged. The last of these sections fittingly includes the thinkers’ jointly signed work on European solidarity and the Iraq War, highlighting the hopes they held in common despite their differences. The wide breadth of this book, along with Thomassen’s lucid introductions to each section, makes The Derrida-Habermas Reader an ideal starting point for anyone interested in one of the most dynamic intellectual debates of our time.
Introduction: Between Deconstruction and Rational Reconstruction
Part I - Philosophy and Literature
1. Leveling the Genre Distinction between Philosophy and Literature
2. Is There a Philosophical Language?
Part II - Ethics and Politics
4. An Allegory of Modernity/Postmodernity: Habermas and Derrida
Richard J. Bernstein
5. Frankfurt Impromptu - Remarks on Derrida and Habermas
6. Performative Powerlessness - A Response to Simon Critchley
7. How to Respond to the Ethical Question
8. Democracy and Difference: Reflections on the Metapolitics of Lyotard and Derrida
Part III - Identity/Difference: Rights, Tolerance and Political Space
9. Dead Rights, Live Futures: On Habermas's Attempt to Reconcile Constitutionalism and Democracy
10. 'A Bizarre, Even Opaque Practice': Habermas on Constitutionalism and Democracy
11. Religious Tolerance - The Pacemaker for Cultural Rights
13. Between Deliberation and Deconstruction: The Condition of Post-National Democracy
Part IV - Beyond the Nation-State: Europe, Cosmopolitanism and International Law
Jacques Derrida and Lieven De Canter
15. February 15, or What Binds Europeans Together: A Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in the Core of Europe
16. Between Hope and Terror: Habermas and Derrida Plead for the Im/Possible
Martin Beack Matustík
17. Honesty of Thought
18. A Last Farewell: Derrida's Enlightening Impact
Notes on the Contributors