• What Kind of Politics Do We Need? Toward Freedom as Responsibility in Habermas’s and Rorty’s Visions of Democracy

    Author: Marcin Kilanowski
    Year of publication: 2017
    Source: Show
    Pages: 50-68
    DOI Address:
    PDF: kie/116/kie11603.pdf

    Isaiah Berlin said that it is part of the human condition to make choices between absolute values. Obviously, this choice cannot be easy. To be well informed, it has to be made in full awareness of the contingency of our criteria. This ability to make choices between absolute values in the light of contingencies is what distinguishes a civilized man from a barbarian, says Berlin, following Joseph Schumpeter. Similar ideas can be found in the philosophy of Richard Rorty, who believes that our liberal societies create more people who understand the contingencies of their vocabularies, but at the same time are still faithful to them. He calls this “freedom as acknowledgement of contingency.” This freedom is bound by the existence of a plurality of voices, which does not mean that it is bound by the existence of chaos. In such a spirit, Jürgen Habermas emphasizes the fact that in spite of the plurality of contingent views, we can find a unity of reason. In spite of plurality of views, we can still come to an agreement thanks to dialogue. The close analysis of Rorty’s and Habermas’s philosophy allows us to see that they share a common stance: thanks to disenchantment of the world, as Rorty says, or thanks to decentralization of the world, as Habermas says. Both are seeing such stance as a precondition to use our freedom in a way to be more tolerant, more open to dialogue and responsible for it. Further analysis allows us to see that there is a possibility to present a new understanding of the notion of freedom-freedom conceived as responsibility.

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