n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die kritiek van tradisie en die tradisie van kritiek in die Geesteswetenskappe. 'n Rekonstruksie van die debat tussen Habermas en Gadamer : navorsings- en oorsigartikels : verdere besinning oor gees, geestelikheid en die geestelike

Volume 53 Number 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


In 1967 a debate started between Jürgen Habermas and Hans Georg-Gadamer that remains of academic importance for the humanities. One of the central issues in this debate revolves around the position of the humanities (geesteswetenskappe) in our time. In his famous work, (1960), Gadamer defended the role of the humanities with concepts such as play, tradition, working-historical consciousness, the hermeneutical circle and the melting of horizons. In a study on the logic of the social sciences, (1967), Habermas criticised Gadamer's work with concepts such as interests, self-reflection, and ideology critique. After a short biographical sketch of Gadamer (1900-2002) and Habermas (born 1929) the argumentative outline of the contribution is provided.
The contribution consists of four parts. In the first part Habermas's critique of Gadamer is investigated. It consists of five aspects. In the first place Habermas criticises the concept of tradition in Gadamer (1.1). Against this background Habermas develops his alternative of knowledge (1.2). The concept of knowledge interests is linked to three fields of human knowledge: empirical-analytical sciences, historical-hermeneutical sciences, and critical-social sciences. Habermas connects each one of these fields of knowledge to an interest. In the case of empirical sciences the interest is , in the case of historical-hermeneutical sciences , and in the case of the critical-social sciences it is . Habermas then connects the latter interest, which he prefers, with the model of psychoanalysis and the concept of ideology critique (1.3). In the fourth place Habermas provides a sharp critique of the idea of ontology in Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics - and by implication also Heidegger. Finally Habermas also challenges the use of Aristotle in contemporary social and political philosophy - and by implication the use of Aristotle in Gadamer's work (1.5).
Gadamer's answer to the debate (section 2) follows the same thematic line as that offered by Habermas. Gadamer is not as critical about the role of tradition in philosophy and more particularly in the humanities (2.1). He does not put reason above tradition. In this process Gadamer emphasises the dynamic nature of tradition. Such a dynamic concept of tradition is further linked to a reciprocal relationship between the subject and object. Gadamer develops this idea in his major work in three directions. In the first part the reciprocal relationship between subject and object is explained through the ontological implications of the work of art. In the second part the concept of aesthetic play is linked to history (in the form of the working-historical consciousness), and in the third part to language as the medium of hermeneutical experience. This defence of the concept of tradition then allows Gadamer to criticiseHabermas's use of the concept of self-reflection and his model of psychoanalysis and ideology critique (2.2 to 2.3). Against this background it comes as no surprise that Gadamer defends the ontological motif in his work (2.4). Finally Gadamer also defends the application of Aristotle's practical philosophy in the contemporary world - especially through the concept of .
In the third section Gadamer and Habermas's careers after the debate are reconstructed. In the case of Gadamer he was obliged to look again at the critical potential of philosophical hermeneutics. Gadamer still remained convinced that Habermas's use of critical reflection is too rationalistic for the humanities. Habermas, on his part, made a more radical change than Gadamer after the debate. He left his model of self-reflection (and psychoanalysis and ideology critique) behind for the concept of . This move is worked out in Habermas's , , and subsequent work. Has Habermas, thus, moved nearer to hermeneutics? This question is answered in an ambigious manner at the end of this section.
In the final section (4) the debate between Habermas and Gadamer is placed in the context of the humanities. This move opens questions such as: Do we need an interpretative or social critique in the humanities? What roles do reason and tradition play here? Do we need here a critique of tradition or a tradition of critique? What is meant with spirit in the humanities (" in die teswetenskappe")? Must we think about spirit in an ontological manner like Gadamer (following Heidegger), or in a self-reflective way (the early Habermas), or in terms of the argumentative discourse of communicative action (the later Habermas)?

In hierdie bydrae word die bekende debat (1967-1971) tussen Jürgen Habermas en Hans-Georg Gadamer gerekonstrueer. Die debat word hier in noue samehang met die kwessie van die geesteswetenskappe gelees. Die bydrae val in vier dele uiteen. In die eerste afdeling word Habermas se opening tot die debat in vyf onderafdelings uiteengesit. Dit gaan hier oor Gadamer se verdediging van tradisie en Habermas se kritiek op die begrip (1.1). In antwoord op Gadamer se begrip van tradisie ontwerp Habermas sy begrip van kennisbelange wat hy aan drie menslike kennisvelde verbind: empiries-analitiese wetenskappe, histories-hermeneutiese wetenskappe en krities-sosiale wetenskappe. Habermas ken aan elkeen van hierdie kennisvelde 'n bepaalde belang toe (1.2). Die krities-sosiale wetenskappe word dan met die belang van emansipasie verbind wat verder aan die hand van die model van psigoanalise en ideologiekritiek uitgewerk word (1.3). In die vierde plek word Habermas se kritiek op die ontologiseringsmotief in Gadamer se filosofiese hermeneutiek verwoord (1.4). Laastens opper Habermas ook sekere punte van kritiek teen die gebruik van Aristoteles in eietydse debatte in die politiek (1.5). In die tweede gedeelte van die bydrae word Gadamer se antwoord aan Habermas gerekonstrueer. Hierdie rekonstruksie volg dieselfde tematiese opbou as by Habermas. Met ander woorde Gadamer se verweer word met verwysing na Habermas se kritiek op tradisie (2.1) die kwessie van selfrefleksie en die model van psigoanalise (2.2-2.3) die ontologiseringsmotief (2.4) en Aristoteles se praktiese filosofie in ons eie tyd uitgewerk (2.5). In die laaste twee afdelings word die loopbane van Gadamer en Habermas, ná hulle debat, verken (afdeling 3). Die punt hier is dat Habermas sy posisie meer as Gadamer verander het. In die laaste afdeling (4) word die debat binne die kader van die geesteswetenskappe geplaas met die vraag: het ons 'n kritiek van tradisie of 'n tradisie van kritiek nodig wanneer ons in die geesteswetenskappe werk?

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