Back to Habermas Studies page Truth of JH’s “creative renewal”
part 8 of “Habermas and Truth
  gary e. davis
October 4, 2003 /
June 2, 2014

It’s clear from “Truth and Justification” (i.e., the section of “Richard Rorty’s Pragmatic Turn,” OPC) that “what is held-to-be-true” (338) pertains for Habermas to lifeworld understanding. So, when he ends the penultimate section of “Some Further Clarifications of the Concept of Communicative Rationality” by referring to “the irrefutably unconditional character of what is held-to-be-true...” (ibid.), he’s referring to the lifeworld (as he is throughout that section of “Some Further...” on “Communicative Rationality and Linguistic World Disclosure” (333-8). In discussion of his Rorty essay, I relativized the notion of unconditionality to (1) discursive finitude, at the level of scientific discourse; and to (2) “bedrock” dependencies of the lifeworld at the level of immaturity (childhood) or illiteracy. Relative to a notion of truth that mediates lifeworld and discourse, JH is writing falsely that there is an unconditional character to what is held-to-be-true, let alone an irrefutable character.

But substitution of ‘relative certainty’ for ‘unconditional character’ would allow JH’s view to be far more workable. There is an irrefutable relative certainty to some of what is held-to-be-true in ordinary life. This is a motive for reliabilist epistemology!

Given the lifeworldliness of what is held to be true, the meaning of ‘true’ in the lifeworld is very salient for understanding what is held: the holding good or reliability of the lifeworld. [I’ve amply shown, I believe, that a] fullness of meaning of ‘true’ and ‘truth’ in the lifeworld is necessary for fair representation of lifeworld truth[—and it’s quite clear to me that, for ordinary life, desiring truth is intimately kindred with desiring good: “the” true good, good truth: Truth/Good in being well, thriving and flourishing. This is the kind of extrapolation of ambiguous ordinary sensibility that I find valid; and I’m prepared to defend the extrapolation—from dimly-differentiating childhood cognition through well-differentiated philosophical analysis in terms of well-established cognitive-developmental modeling, thanks greatly to Habermas’ work of past decades, which I’ve extended and amplified in many ways, mostly not yet online]. Thinking about truth readily suggests the history [anthropology] of thinking about truth, such that lifeworld truth and discursive truth can belong together in a concept of Truth.

Though it turns out that JH’s specific “Janus-faced” notion is invalid in the terms through which he explicates it, he works with the notion differently in general and in accord with a discursive sense that is creative and enlightening[, i.e., the notion of two-fold attention has undeveloped potential]. I see this [the potential] in his ambiguous use of the rubric, which I didn’t earlier focus on, in “Truth and Justification” (the Rorty chapter section of OPC). [My own approach to appropriative thinking depends very much on a hermeneutical sense of two-fold or bi-directional attention in appropriations.]

Also, potential shows in his occasional passage back and forth between reference to “truth claims” and “validity claims,” without noting the metonymy (apparently because Rorty is ambivalent about the difference; in fact, this ambivalence echoes a general legacy in philosophy traceable to Platonism, which JH effectively, though implicitly, counters, in my view). The enlightening effect of this ambiguation of truth/validity is to implicitly proffer the validity claim of factuality or accuracy (relative to the objective world) as metonymical of validity claims generally, which accords with the folk meaning of truth as validity generally (re: “notes on Truth). [However, it’s unclear how a discursivity of factuality or of standard “truth functionality” would trope a general, high-scale theory of discursivity that pertains to both moral/ethical theory and theory of “truth,” which Habermas wants from a “discourse ethics.”]

Sometimes, this ambiguation suggests an argumentive invalidity in his discussion (enthymemic reasoning with a hidden neo-Kantian agenda), but mostly it’s harmless and thought-provoking, in the spirit of enlarging discursive attention. (But it’s not discursively harmless in “Truth and Rightness,” Truth & Justification, when universalistic moral meaning is analogized to unconditionality in truth-functionality. There and then, the earlier, pre-T&J, generative ambiguity of essays in OPC—“Some Further Clarifications...” and “Truth and Justification”/“ Rorty”— looks like a preceding set-up for another way into a deontology[—i.e., deontological discourse ethics—]that risks overbearingness. But I have a repair program for that, too.) [In other words, suggestive ambiguity in OPC seems in retrospect, in light ofT&J's “Truth and Rightness,” to have been a set up for furthering a transcendental homology between moral and epistemic discourse through discourse ethics. But I worked through “Truth and Rightness,” 2003, to show how to avoid the problem of transcendentalism. I haven’t transposed the work into well-formed presentation. The work was done while Barbara Fultner was translating T&J and was getting feedback from me on the cogency of the English text—just as English presentation, not as translation.]

There are some remarkable features of Habermas’ discussion of world-disclosure in “Some Further Clarifications....” [remarkably self-undermining]

The world-disclosing power of language is neither rational nor irrational; as an enabling condition for rational behavior it is itself a-rational. (OPC 337)

The point of this indication is to relativize the power (a-rational) to [linguistic] rationality. While irrationality is negatively relativized to rationality, the “function” is, “in a certain sense, a-rational” (336-7). “Function” [336] evinces from the “power” of language. [One might argue that this is linguistic relativism, which is untenable in light of cognitive science. But who would claim that language itself has intentionality? Only minds are intentional. The power expressed through language is of intelligence altogether, employing linguisticality that provides for interpersonal rationality, but reason/intelligence cannot be validly equated with interpersonally-efficacious rationality. John Searle has long ago shown that philosophy of language is a mode of philosophy of mind.] Next, he says (weirdly interesting!):

Even a linguistically creative renewal of our view of the world as a whole that allows us to see old problems in a completely new light does not fall out of the blue—it is no “Destining of Being” (Seinsgeschick).

[Since his OPC discussion hasn’t been focused on Heidegger—unlike Philosophical Discourse of Modernity a decade earlier, confronting those Frenchmen—mentioning Heidegger here is symptomatic of an inescapability of Heidegger’s ghost in German philosophy. Heidegger does not equate his sense of language to what’s linguistic. In On the Way to Language, language is sometimes understood as a verb (“language languages”). Articulation belongs to the potential, then capability, of intelligence altogether or to reason. Creative renewal evinces from our being Of Languaging, so to speak. MH s “destining of being” is an onto-historical notion, analogous—but not equivalent— to the anthropologicity of Our humanity.] Two pages back, when JH is making an explicit point about the “horizon”ality of the lifeworld (again, as also at TCA-2; 120-6, passim.), he writes:

It is no coincidence that this Being-in-the-World, as analyzed by Heidegger, can be illustrated by the strange semitransparence of a language at our disposal: we always operate through the medium of language.... (335)

But isn’t “operate through the medium of language” the same as saying: “we can use it as a means of communication”? No, the two are not the same. What’s the difference? JH is interested in the difference. [Habermas wouldn’t agree, but good individuation of intelligence shapes one’s relationship to linguistic means, as well as having been shaped my linguistic interaction. The mirrorplay of ontogeny is inestimably rich, yet it’s an ontogeny of intelligence altogether, which is also linguistic, such that the linguisticality of our lives is intelligently employed. The “language that is never at our disposal” is our constitutive capability—which, as singular term, is a trope for the manifold of capabilities that one becomes. Therefore, “we always operate through the medium of language.”] Here’s the complete passage from JH without ellipses [but with my added comment]:

No matter how high they climb, the horizon retreats before them[ and self-reflectivity never captures its own ontogeny, its constitutivity], with the result that they can never bring the lifeworld as a whole before them—as it is possible with the objective world[. Actually, that’s not true of the objective world, since objectivity is a phenomenological notion of interpersonal mutuality of accessibility whose reality—physical, biological, semiotic implicature—is always horizonal, boundaried, kept finite, relative to shared interests of discernment]—and survey [the lifeworld] as a whole. It is no coincidence that this Being-in-the-World, as analyzed by Heidegger [JH has not just now provided an accurate sense of Heidegger’s notion], can be illustrated by the strange semitransparence of a language that, although we can use it as a means of communication, is nonetheless never at our disposal: we always operate through the medium of language and can never performatively—so long as we speak—objectify it as a whole.

The lifeworld as a whole has a horizonality which is “this Being-in-the-World.” It can be “illustrated by the strange semitransparence of a language,” yet this is different from saying that in-the-world-being can be illustrated by the strange semitransparence of language itself, as such. [The semitransparence is a de-temporalized holism; in-the-world-being expresses ontogenically-lived time in the phenomenality of presence. That simitransparence illustrates the constitutivity of action by the ontogeny of intelligence or capability or reason.]

(Heidegger’s ‘In-die-welt-sein’ has been translated as in-the-world-being by some others because MH meant his readers to hear the German word anewly, like it reads for us if it’s translated literally. [The experiencing is of enactivity finding itself there: already in horizonal conceiving.])

Indeed, it is “the strange semitransparence” of language itself that Habermas means to emphasize in the above passage. It is language as such in its languageness that is never at our disposal. Heidegger tries to render the phenomenological reality by writing as if “language speaks through us,” because languaging is beyond our being linguistic. The enactive reality of intelligence works largely a-consciously, which is different from what may work unconsciously: The large share of our intelligence is inarticulable[, i.e., one's ontogenic constitutivity], distinguished from what’s readily articulable, yet out of mind: preconscious; and distinguishable from what is articulable with methodic means: nonconscious, e.g., the specifiable grammar of a language.

Mental action works as if individuated intelligence has a mind of its own, apart from self-understanding—as if intelligence works through us, as if “language” (in the sense of intelligence altogether) speaks itself through individuations, i.e., present individuals. This is why you can immerse your attention with work in the evening and have insights emerge the next morning, as if out of the blue. Awake insight happens because mind in enacting beyond a focus of attention. Mind ways creative renewal. Heidegger, in his later years, appealed to the German ear to think the “It gives” in ‘Es gibt...’ Colloquially, that’s “There is...” Yet, ‘Es gibt Da-sein’ is “It gives there-being.” It acts in, through, and as enacting, phenomenologically “speaking.”

Heidegger had a decisive influence on elder Husserl. It was in light of Being & Time that Husserl created the concept of lifeworld (Lebenswelt), via the Krisis lectures (The Crisis of European Science and Transcendental Phenomenology). The concept of lifeworld is, for Husserl, a direct result of his influence by Being & Time. [From there, the notion came to Maurice Merleau-Ponty, much later to Hubert Dreyfus at UC Berkeley as “The Background” in Burt’s sense of Being and Time, then to Habermas in Berkeley, 1980, as his sense of lifeworld “Background” in Theory of Communicative Action. Before then, JH had a sense of lifeworld constellated from Dilthey, Merleau-Ponty, JH’s youthful influence by Heidegger—and by critics’ sense of lifeworld in complaints that JH gave the notion inadequate attention, which JH rebutted effectively, I think, in his “Postscript to Knowledge and Human Interests,” 1971.]

So, much more than meets the eye is going on when Habermas, in TCA2, passes through his examination of the concept of lifeworld merely in Schutzian / Luckmannian terms, and finds “the” [Schutzian] phenomenological notion of lifeworld inadequate largely because that remains tied to the philosophy of consciousness. But in fact, Being & Time is motivated (in part, but explicitly) by critique of Husserl’s transcendental-egoistic stance. For Heidegger in B&T, “Dasein ist Mitsein”: Therebeing is Withbeing. Being-with is being there. How? In the phenomenological and hermeneutical sense of therebeing that B&T seeks to articulate—which is inter-psychological, yet depth-psychologically beyond, as phenomenological withness is wholly phenomenological in being Of phenomenologicality itself. Such comprehensiveness of there being is concealed by Schutze’s incorporation of Husserl’s conception a decade earlier. This “infects” JH’s sense of the concept, I surmise.

So, you should see Habermas’ brief discussion of lifeworld in “Some Further Clarifications...” as not only metonymical of a larger-scale consideration of lifeworld 16 years earlier, but as symptomatic of the background occlusion of Heidegger in the concept of lifeworld that Habermas presumes. When Habermas shapes his own hermeneutic of the lifeworld background, 1981, he is unwittingly trying to appreciate appropriations of Heideggerian thought while not considering Heidegger at all.

Then, Heidegger haunts him ever after, in readings of Derrida and Foucault, then in the shadows of his sense of “postmetaphysical thinking,” 1988. (The focus on “thinking” rather than philosophy is a Heideggerian coinage, after the critique of metaphysics as a diagnosis of Western philosophy-as-such). [Postmetaphyical Thinking is now framed by Habermas as vol. 1, since a Postmetaphysical Thinking-II was published 2012, now being translated to English. I will surely enjoy reading that! ]

Who is Habermas addressing when, out of the blue, he asserts his caveat that “creative renewal of our view of the world as a whole...does not fall out of the blue—it is no ‘Destining of Being’ ”—which is an elder-Heideggerian expession? Cristina Lafont? (JH footnotes Lafont a page earlier for further pursuit of the theme of the world-disclosing function of language. Lafont wrote a dissertation on Heidegger, supervised by Habermas, which seems either absurd or revealing about Lafont’s interest in Heidegger; I’ve seen the book version of her dissertation; it would not interest a Heidegger scholar, in my view. So, JH footnotes Lafont on Heidegger.)

Anyway, creative renewal doesn’t emerge ex nihilo, because “world-disclosing interpretive knowledge must continuously prove its truth” (337). [What is the conception there? The lived locus of worldness is the implicity resulting from the entirety of ontogeny, which gives one a sense of the world as Whole, living—which normally has no concept of itself as such—as “World.” Only philosophers obsess with this. So, the interpretive knowledge would be the reliablism which shows through self efficacy in ongoing life.] This disclosing is salient for JH because “creative renewal...allows us to see old problems in a completely new light...” (ibid.); i.e., the interest in problem-solving is the “allow”ance “Of” creative renewal, via a completely new light—creative renewal’s disclosure of whole-scale new understanding or, I suppose, outside-of-the-box re-gestalting of problem contexts.

Is it creative renewal’s light or the whole’s light that allows? (JH’s statement is also consistent with there being a completely new light apart from creative renewal of our view that creative renewal of the whole allows.) [The ambiguity of all of this evinces from the passing attention that Habermas gives in an essay covering many themes. My press of this expresses my interest in furthering themes of creative renewal, because this is crucial—vital, critical, enlightening, inspiring, etc.—for emancipatory interest, then developmental interest, then for flourishing in an organized, sustainable way. This is the basis for larger-scale change via groups, which are made of individuals constellating their insightfulness and persistence for good, shared purposes.]

Creative renewal isn’t identical with the light (or the whole, and whole isn’t identical with the light), since the allowance is “of our view of the world as a whole”; it’s creative renewal of the whole that allows us to see “in a completely new light.” Creative renewal of “our view” of the-world-as-a-whole allows completely new light. A “linguistically creative renewal.“ Are there other kinds of creative renewal? Presumably, yes, since intelligence isn’t only linguistic. Or would Habermas disagree?: Though intelligence isn’t only linguistic, creative renewal of our view of the world as a whole is linguistic? Only linguistic or also linguistic? Is it strictly inasmuch as renewal is linguistic that creative renewal of our view of the world as a whole happens? [Such a rhetorical runaround simply dramatizes my interest in developmental holism. The key dimension of progress is parenting and education, so how holistically should we be thinking in theorizing, as individuation happens wholly, singularly?]

In any case, “acting subjects” “must [be] a position to come to grips with what happens to them in the world, and to learn from mistakes” (337). “World-disclosing interpretive knowledge...must put acting subjects” there. Yet, knowledge itself doesn’t put anything anywhere, unless we mean know-how; but capabilities or competences have efficacy because they are practices. If “world-disclosing interpretive knowldge must continuously prove its truth” (ibid.), then it is the truth of practices that creative renewal allows, for the sake of “com[ing] to grips with what happens..., and to learn from mistakes” (ibid.). [No wonder that there is now the field of positive psychology devoted to enabling potential to prove itself.]

However, what about problem-finding in the first place? What is the basis of realizing that a given condition can be transformed, thereby becoming a challenge for problem-solving, rather than there being an unconditionality that remains given, like a fate, to which we must adapt?

What about appeals to curiosity apart from response to emergent problems? What about the emergence of possibility based in desirous imagination that is apart from—even, for hearty children, prior to—response to apparent unconditionality (i.e., response apart from / prior to that with which we have to come to grips or to recover from)? That might be about self-given challenges of actualizing a possibility—like seeking to know the nature of something because it’s mysterious; or sailing into the work of art because it’s an ecstatic appeal; or finding one’s way to innovation in organizations. Is human flourishing and love a problem to be solved? Growing a garden or a family? Do we live mainly to “come to grips”? Or do we come to grips in striving to live well? [ Indeed, creative renewal belongs to desire for organized flourishing, in light of which problem-solving gains purpose.]

Creative renewal of our view of the world as a whole may enable a completely new light for the way one lives (or the way we live).

On the other hand, the retrospectively produced revisions of this world-interpreting linguistic knowledge are just as little an automatic result of successful problem solving. (ibid.)

So, earlier “world-disclosing interpretive knowledge” (in light of the world as a whole) becomes “world-interpreting linguistic knowledge” in coming to grips (such that revisions, in light of renewal, are far more than automatic). What’s the difference there? [It’s the difference between enhancing general capability and enriching shareable articulation.] Is world-disclosing interpretive knowledge futural? [yes]; world-interpreting linguistic knowledge present-centered?; and revisions reconstructive? A futural present (disclosive-to-interpretive) comes to grips, in light of which linguistic self-understanding becomes revised? [I’m stretching to find a constructive stance in JH’s brief formulations.]

It is more a matter of stimulating the linguistic imagination—Peirce spoke of abductive fantasy—through failed attempts to solve problems and faltering learning processes. (ibid.)

Bor-ing. [I’m so bad. Peirce’s abduction was relative to scientific contexts: inferring to the best explanation, which is promoted, then educed, through prospective conceptualization. But problem-solving is not the fundamental motive for creativity. Not even problem-finding is the fundamental motive. Children don’t play imaginatively because they are trying to solve problems. Problems inevitably arise, and solving them is grandly conducive to growing capability. Yet, the motive to explore is born from intrinsic curiosity, which is easily lost in conformist parenting, bad education, consumerism, etc. Creative renewal is partly about retrieving oneself in one’s potential for being.] From whence does the stimulation come, from failing and faltering? I feel like I’m back at Jürgen’s office hours, 1980, explaining to him that the emancipatory interest can’t be equiprimordial with other interests of knowledge because a successful emancipation dissolves the interest, while satisfaction of practical interests leads to more practical interest. Therefore, the emancipatory interest must be a deformation of some other interest (One doesn’t just get more practical in freedom; the emancipatory interest isn’t a deformed practical interest). I, at the time, looked to his essay on Hegel’s Jena period, and told him that the emancipatory interest looks like a deformed self-formative interest. He was very interested in this, not surprisingly, because (I suppose) I was locating the real basis of his own concept of emancipatory interest (with a man whose youthful dissertation had been on Schelling!). [However, an emancipatory interest is pervasive in Heidegger’s lectures and thinking. Habermas’s anger toward Heidegger, 1959, was the anger of a man who had been deeply influenced by an emancipatory interest in German thought through Heidegger, as well as others. Habermas felt deeply betrayed—falsely informed, but genuinely felt, I don’t doubt—because Heidegger’s emancipatory interest, as it was understood at that time, was so important to contemporary German thought, thus to Habermas’s development. Implicit to Romanticism is emancipatory interest in giving self formative interest freedom.]

So, in light of all this rendering, I do agree with JH that:

The world-disclosing power of language enabling condition...[that] is a-rational. Throughout the history of philosophy this a-rational character has repeatedly failed to be recognized.... (337)

Such was Heidegger’s critical burden in sketching a “history of Being” as concealment of “aletheia,” lifelong love so alive in futural, flourishing horizons of poetic thinking.

... philosophical idealism from Plato through Kant to Heidegger has always discerned Logos at work in the totalizing power of the substantive linguistic interpretation of the world. Philosophical idealism singled out this “reason” (Vernunft) as the capacity for knowledlge of the totality....(ibid.)

But also, reason is the capacity for bypassing totalizing power in the first place, thanks to capable-enough individuation (excellent childhood and education). But given the totalizing power, reason is the capacity for knowing that, too. Total linguistification of reason is Logos at work. Enabling the originative efficacy of mindfulness faces a history of intellectual hegemony that confounds creative potential.

Logocentrism yields a linguistic relativization of intelligence. By “language,” Heidegger thinks beyond linguisticality (itself beyond speaking—Derrida shows the writing in speech itself). The “Saying” of language is a “Showing” in saying. The “sway” of The Concept shows in the way you think (which differentiates itself into articulated presentation—what Derrida calls “the trace”).

Was Kant at heart a Platonist? Habermas connotes this (my emphasis and [comment] below):

On the Kantian reading of the mentalist paradigm, reason continued to be seen as the capacity for ideas, although the world-constituting power of these ideas [ rather than the world-constituting power of the capacity [sic] ] was now conceived as the totalizing accomplishment of the transcendental subject.... (ibid.)

...which comes back to haunt Hegel in the Absolute Concept. [A “transcendental” subject is not as such totalizing! Its accomplishment may be non-totalizing; and still be modeled as transcendental subject apart from a Kantian mental paradigm. I confess that I never read Kant rigorously because—as a nubile doctoral student—I was entranced with Husserl’s Formal and Transcendental Logic. This was before meeting Heidegger's critique of Kant and Husserl.] The realm of Ideas in German Idealism is appropriated as implicitly the capacity of intelligence itself. And Plato lived on in the Kantian mandarins of Weimar, before German capital’s Fürher tried to reincarnate Holy Roman Empire. [Critique of metaphysics was understood by Heidegger, even in the 1920s—ex-Catholic theologian of the German mandarins that he was—as a critique of ontotheological power, which was to become emancipatory educational leadership, had not German capital reigned.]

O, my:...

How difficult it is, even in the linguistic paradigm, to break free from idealism, can be seen in the case of Heidegger who still conceived epochal world-disclosures as the “Happening of Truth” (Wahrheitsgeschehen).

[As they say, that’s the pot calling the kettle black. Let us think about the happening of Truth.] No. What, for Heidegger, is the Happening of the history of Being? Habermas is nowhere near the neighborhood of Heidegger’s immanent way of thinking. How difficult it is to break free of logocentrism through the linguistic paradigm. Heidegger’s “epochs of Being” are matters of the deconstruction of metaphysicalism, Of his sense of truth as [emancipatory] unconcealment, originating in pre-Platonic “a-letheia,” un-closure, un-self-concealing, which Heidegger displays in renewing kinds of intimacy with dis-closure: so-called poetic thinking.

Only a soberly conducted, pragmatic-linguistic turn permits us to relieve the world-constituting and articulating power of language of the burden of claims to knowledge.

I believe that sober conduct is a good thing. [Condolences for the burden unrelieved, which traces deeply into the intellectual history of Germany that Habermas’s career has so richly sought to redeem.]

Yet, world-constituting belongs to the linguisticality Of intelligence, whose articulating power allows for relief of logocentric burden.

After the burden—beyond the emancipatory interest that Heidegger brought to Western thought, embodied by Habermas's career, even in disavowing father Heidegger (like a Bloomian “anxiety of influence”)—thinking is free to begin new ways of thnking.

Next: “‘creative reason and health of nations

Also: This discussion is associated with the “good thinking” area of

Be fair. © 2017, g. e. davis.