German philosophy

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German philosophy, here taken to mean either (1) philosophy in the German language or (2) philosophy by Germans, has been extremely diverse, and central to both the analytic and continental traditions in philosophy for centuries, from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz through Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein to contemporary philosophers. Søren Kierkegaard (a Danish philosopher) is frequently included in surveys of German (or Germanic) philosophy due to his extensive engagement with German thinkers. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Analytic philosophy style of philosophy

Analytic philosophy is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things:

Contents

17th century

Leibniz

Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bernhard Christoph Francke.jpg
Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was both a philosopher and a mathematician who wrote primarily in Latin and French. Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz also anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or a priori definitions rather than to empirical evidence.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz German mathematician and philosopher

Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz was a prominent German polymath and philosopher in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy. His most notable accomplishment was conceiving the ideas of differential and integral calculus, independently of Isaac Newton's contemporaneous developments. Mathematical works have always favored Leibniz's notation as the conventional expression of calculus, while Newton's notation became unused. It was only in the 20th century that Leibniz's law of continuity and transcendental law of homogeneity found mathematical implementation. He became one of the most prolific inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding automatic multiplication and division to Pascal's calculator, he was the first to describe a pinwheel calculator in 1685 and invented the Leibniz wheel, used in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. He also refined the binary number system, which is the foundation of all digital computers.

Mathematician person with an extensive knowledge of mathematics

A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Leibniz is noted for his optimism - his Théodicée [5] tries to justify the apparent imperfections of the world by claiming that it is optimal among all possible worlds. It must be the best possible and most balanced world, because it was created by an all powerful and all knowing God, who would not choose to create an imperfect world if a better world could be known to him or possible to exist. In effect, apparent flaws that can be identified in this world must exist in every possible world, because otherwise God would have chosen to create the world that excluded those flaws.

<i>Théodicée</i> book by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l'homme et l'origine du mal, more simply known as Théodicée, is a book of philosophy by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz. The book, published in 1710, introduced the term theodicy, and its optimistic approach to the problem of evil is thought to have inspired Voltaire's Candide. Much of the work consists of a response to the ideas of the French philosopher Pierre Bayle, with whom Leibniz carried on a debate for many years.

Best of all possible worlds

The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" was coined by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l'homme et l'origine du mal. The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz's theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil.

Leibniz is also known for his theory of monads, as exposited in Monadologie . Monads are to the metaphysical realm what atoms are to the physical/phenomenal.[ citation needed ] They can also be compared to the corpuscles of the Mechanical Philosophy of René Descartes and others. Monads are the ultimate elements of the universe. The monads are "substantial forms of being" with the following properties: they are eternal, indecomposable, individual, subject to their own laws, un-interacting, and each reflecting the entire universe in a pre-established harmony (a historically important example of panpsychism). Monads are centers of force; substance is force, while space, matter, and motion are merely phenomenal.

The Monadology is one of Gottfried Leibniz's best known works representing his later philosophy. It is a short text which sketches in some 90 paragraphs a metaphysics of simple substances, or monads.

Atom smallest unit of a chemical element

An atom is the smallest constituent unit of ordinary matter that has the properties of a chemical element. Every solid, liquid, gas, and plasma is composed of neutral or ionized atoms. Atoms are extremely small; typical sizes are around 100 picometers.

18th century

Wolff

Christian Wolff (1679–1754) was the most eminent German philosopher between Leibniz and Kant. His main achievement was a complete oeuvre on almost every scholarly subject of his time, displayed and unfolded according to his demonstrative-deductive, mathematical method, which perhaps represents the peak of Enlightenment rationality in Germany.

Christian Wolff (philosopher) German philosopher

Christian Wolff was a German philosopher. Wolff was the most eminent German philosopher between Leibniz and Kant. His main achievement was a complete oeuvre on almost every scholarly subject of his time, displayed and unfolded according to his demonstrative-deductive, mathematical method, which perhaps represents the peak of Enlightenment rationality in Germany.

Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason. Rationality implies the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons to believe, and of one's actions with one's reasons for action. "Rationality" has different specialized meanings in philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, evolutionary biology, game theory and political science.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Wolff was one of the first to use German as a language of scholarly instruction and research, although he also wrote in Latin, so that an international audience could, and did, read him. A founding father of, among other fields, economics and public administration as academic disciplines, he concentrated especially in these fields, giving advice on practical matters to people in government, and stressing the professional nature of university education.

Economics Social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services

Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

Public administration public leadership of public affairs directly responsible for executive action

Public administration is the implementation of government policy and also an academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants for working in the public service. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" whose fundamental goal is to "advance management and policies so that government can function". Some of the various definitions which have been offered for the term are: "the management of public programs"; the "translation of politics into the reality that citizens see every day"; and "the study of government decision making, the analysis of the policies themselves, the various inputs that have produced them, and the inputs necessary to produce alternative policies."

Kant

Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (painted portrait).jpg
Immanuel Kant

In 1781, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) published his Critique of Pure Reason , in which he attempted to determine what we can and cannot know through the use of reason independent of all experience. Briefly, he came to the conclusion that we could come to know an external world through experience, but that what we could know about it was limited by the limited terms in which the mind can think: if we can only comprehend things in terms of cause and effect, then we can only know causes and effects. It follows from this that we can know the form of all possible experience independent of all experience, but nothing else, but we can never know the world from the “standpoint of nowhere” and therefore we can never know the world in its entirety, neither via reason nor experience.

Since the publication of his Critique, Immanuel Kant has been considered one of the greatest influences in all of western philosophy. In the late 18th and early 19th century, one direct line of influence from Kant is German Idealism.

Neo-Kantianism refers broadly to the revival of the type of philosophy explained by Immanuel Kant and of the interpretations of Kant provided by post-Kantian philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Jakob Friedrich Fries and Johann Friedrich Herbart. Major figures in the neo-Kantian movement, which began around the 1860s, include Friedrich Albert Lange and Hermann Cohen.

19th century

German idealism

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G. W. F. Hegel

The three most prominent German idealists were Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775–1854) and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), who was the predominant figure in nineteenth century German philosophy.

Schopenhauer

Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer Portrait by Ludwig Sigismund Ruhl 1815.jpeg
Schopenhauer

An idiosyncratic opponent of German idealism, particularly Hegel's thought, was Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860). He was influenced by Eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism, and was known for his pessimism. Schopenhauer's most influential work, The World as Will and Representation , claimed that the world is fundamentally what we recognize in ourselves as our will. His analysis of will led him to the conclusion that emotional, physical, and sexual desires can never be fulfilled. Consequently, he eloquently described a lifestyle of negating desires, similar to the ascetic teachings of Vedanta and the Desert Fathers of early Christianity. [6]

Karl Marx and the Young Hegelians

Karl Marx, German economist and philosopher. Karl Marx 001.jpg
Karl Marx, German economist and philosopher.

Among those influenced by Hegel was a group of young radicals called the Young Hegelians, who were unpopular because of their radical views on religion and society. They included Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72), Bruno Bauer (1809–82) and Max Stirner (1806–56) among their ranks.

Karl Marx (1818–83) often attended their meetings. He developed an interest in Hegelianism, French socialism and British economic theory. He transformed the three into an essential work of economics called Das Kapital , which consisted of a critical economic examination of capitalism. Marxism became one of the major forces on twentieth century world history.

Nietzsche

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Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was initially a proponent of Schopenhauer. However, he soon came to disavow Schopenhauer's pessimistic outlook on life and sought to provide a positive philosophy. He believed this task to be urgent, as he believed a form of nihilism caused by modernity was spreading across Europe, which he summed up in the phrase "God is dead". His problem, then, was how to live a positive life considering that if you believe in God, you give in to dishonesty and cruel beliefs (e.g. divine predestination of some individuals to Hell), and if you don't believe in God, you give in to nihilism. He believed he found his solution in the concepts of the Übermensch and Eternal Recurrence. His work continues to have a major influence on both philosophers and artists.

20th century

Analytic philosophy

Frege, Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle

In the late 19th century, the predicate logic of Gottlob Frege (1848–1925) overthrew Aristotelian logic (the dominant logic since its inception in Ancient Greece). This was the beginning of analytic philosophy. In the early part of the 20th century, a group of German and Austrian philosophers and scientists formed the Vienna Circle to promote scientific thought over Hegelian system-building, which they saw as a bad influence on intellectual thought. The group considered themselves logical positivists because they believed all knowledge is either derived through experience or arrived at through analytic statements, and they adopted the predicate logic of Frege, as well as the early work of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) as foundations to their work. Wittgenstein did not agree with their interpretation of his philosophy.

Continental philosophy

While some of the seminal philosophers of twentieth-century analytical philosophy were German-speakers, most German-language philosophy of the twentieth century tends to be defined not as analytical but 'continental' philosophy – as befits Germany's position as part of the European 'continent' as opposed to the British Isles or other culturally European nations outside of Europe.

Phenomenology

Phenomenology began at the start of the 20th century with the descriptive psychology of Franz Brentano (1838–1917), and then the transcendental phenomenology of Edmund Husserl (1859–1938). It was then transformed by Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), whose famous book Being and Time applied phenomenology to ontology, and who, along with Ludwig Wittgenstein, is considered one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. Phenomenology has had a large influence on Continental Philosophy, particularly existentialism and poststructuralism. Heidegger himself is often identified as an existentialist, though he would have rejected this.

Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is the philosophical theory and practice of interpretation and understanding.

Originally hermeneutics referred to the interpretation of texts, especially religious texts. [7] In the 19th century, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911) and others expanded the discipline of hermeneutics beyond mere exegesis and turned it into a general humanistic discipline. [8] Schleiermacher wondered whether there could be a hermeneutics that was not a collection of pieces of ad hoc advice for the solution of specific problems with text interpretation but rather a "general hermeneutics," which dealt with the "art of understanding" as such, which pertained to the structure and function of understanding wherever it occurs. Later in the 19th century, Dilthey began to see possibilities for continuing Schleiermacher's general hermeneutics project as a "general methodology of the humanities and social sciences". [9]

In the 20th century, hermeneutics took an 'ontological turn'. Martin Heidegger's Being and Time fundamentally transformed the discipline. No longer was it conceived of as being about understanding linguistic communication, or providing a methodological basis for the human sciences - as far as Heidegger was concerned, hermeneutics is ontology, dealing with the most fundamental conditions of man's being in the world. [10] The Heideggerian conception of hermeneutics was further developed by Heidegger's pupil Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900–2002), in his book Truth and Method .

Frankfurt School

Jurgen Habermas JuergenHabermas.jpg
Jürgen Habermas

In 1923, Carl Grünberg founded the Institute for Social Research, drawing from Marxism, Freud's psychoanalysis and Weberian philosophy, which came to be known as the "Frankfurt School". Expelled by the Nazis, the school reformed again in Frankfurt after World War II. Although they drew from Marxism, they were outspoken opponents of Stalinism. Books from the group, like Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment and Adorno’s Negative Dialectics , critiqued what they saw as the failure of the Enlightenment project and the problems of modernity. Postmodernists consider the Frankfurt school to be one of their precursors.[ citation needed ]

Since the 1960s the Frankfurt School has been guided by Jürgen Habermas' (born 1929) work on communicative reason, [11] [12] linguistic intersubjectivity and what Habermas calls "the philosophical discourse of modernity". [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel German philosopher who influenced German idealism

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher and an important figure of German idealism. He achieved wide recognition in his day and—while primarily influential within the continental tradition of philosophy—has become increasingly influential in the analytic tradition as well. Although Hegel remains a divisive figure, his canonical stature within Western philosophy is universally recognized.

In philosophy, Idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, Idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to Materialism, Idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.

"Bruces' Philosophers Song " is a popular Monty Python song written and composed by Eric Idle that was a feature of the group's stage appearances and its recordings.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts.

19th-century philosophy

In the 19th century, the philosophies of the Enlightenment began to have a dramatic effect, the landmark works of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau influencing new generations of thinkers. In the late 18th century a movement known as Romanticism began; it validated strong emotion as an authentic not of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and terror and awe. Key ideas that sparked changes in philosophy were the fast progress of science; evolution, as postulated by Vanini, Diderot, Lord Monboddo, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Goethe, and Charles Darwin; and what might now be called emergent order, such as the free market of Adam Smith within nation states. Pressures for egalitarianism, and more rapid change culminated in a period of revolution and turbulence that would see philosophy change as well.

German idealism was a philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It began as a reaction to Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. German idealism was closely linked with both Romanticism and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment.

Continental philosophy Set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe

Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.

Transcendental idealism Epistemology of the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Space and time are merely formal features of how we perceive objects, not things in themselves that exist independently of us.

Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us—implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that directly comprehends the things as they are in themselves. The doctrine is most commonly presented as the idea that time and space are just human perceptions; they are not necessarily real concepts, just a medium through which humans internalize the universe.

Wilhelm Dilthey German historian, psychologist, sociologist, student of hermeneutics, and philosopher

Wilhelm Dilthey was a German historian, psychologist, sociologist, and hermeneutic philosopher, who held G. W. F. Hegel's Chair in Philosophy at the University of Berlin. As a polymathic philosopher, working in a modern research university, Dilthey's research interests revolved around questions of scientific methodology, historical evidence and history's status as a science. He could be considered an empiricist, in contrast to the idealism prevalent in Germany at the time, but his account of what constitutes the empirical and experiential differs from British empiricism and positivism in its central epistemological and ontological assumptions, which are drawn from German literary and philosophical traditions.

Modern philosophy

Modern philosophy is philosophy developed in the modern era and associated with modernity. It is not a specific doctrine or school, although there are certain assumptions common to much of it, which helps to distinguish it from earlier philosophy.

Obscurantism

Obscurantism is the practice of deliberately presenting information in an imprecise and recondite manner, often designed to forestall further inquiry and understanding. There are two historical and intellectual denotations of Obscurantism: (1) the deliberate restriction of knowledge—opposition to disseminating knowledge; and, (2) deliberate obscurity—an abstruse style characterized by deliberate vagueness.

Absolute idealism

Absolute idealism is an ontologically monistic philosophy "chiefly associated with Friedrich Schelling and G. W. F. Hegel, both German idealist philosophers of the 19th century, Josiah Royce, an American philosopher, and others, but, in its essentials, the product of Hegel". It is Hegel's account of how being is ultimately comprehensible as an all-inclusive whole. Hegel asserted that in order for the thinking subject to be able to know its object at all, there must be in some sense an identity of thought and being. Otherwise, the subject would never have access to the object and we would have no certainty about any of our knowledge of the world. To account for the differences between thought and being, however, as well as the richness and diversity of each, the unity of thought and being cannot be expressed as the abstract identity "A=A". Absolute idealism is the attempt to demonstrate this unity using a new "speculative" philosophical method, which requires new concepts and rules of logic. According to Hegel, the absolute ground of being is essentially a dynamic, historical process of necessity that unfolds by itself in the form of increasingly complex forms of being and of consciousness, ultimately giving rise to all the diversity in the world and in the concepts with which we think and make sense of the world.

Neo-Kantianism

In late modern continental philosophy, neo-Kantianism was a revival of the 18th-century philosophy of Immanuel Kant. More specifically, it was influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer's critique of the Kantian philosophy in his work The World as Will and Representation (1818), as well as by other post-Kantian philosophers such as Jakob Friedrich Fries and Johann Friedrich Herbart.

Robert L. Bernasconi is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. He is well known as a reader of Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas, and for his work on the concept of race. He has also written on the history of philosophy.

Western philosophy philosophy of the Western world

Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with Greek philosophy of the pre-Socratics such as Thales and Pythagoras, and eventually covering a large area of the globe. The word philosophy itself originated from the Ancient Greek: philosophia (φιλοσοφία), literally, "the love of wisdom".

Tom Rockmore is an American philosopher. Although he denies the usual distinction between philosophy and the history of philosophy, he has strong interests throughout the history of philosophy and defends a constructivist view of epistemology. The philosophers whom he has studied extensively are Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Marx, Lukács, and Heidegger. He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1974 and his Habilitation à diriger des recherches from the Université de Poitiers in 1994. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Duquesne University, as well as Distinguished Humanities Chair Professor at Peking University.

Andrew S. Bowie is Professor of Philosophy and German at Royal Holloway, University of London and Founding Director of the Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC).

The following is a list of the major events in the history of German idealism, along with related historical events.

Paul Redding is an Australian philosopher and professor of philosophy at the University of Sydney. He is known for his research on Kantian philosophy and the tradition of German idealism and its relation to analytic philosophy and pragmatism. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

References

  1. Lowith, Karl. From Hegel to Nietzsche, 1991, p. 370-375.
  2. Pinkard, Terry P. German philosophy, 1760-1860: the legacy of idealism, 2002, ch. 13.
  3. Stewart, Jon B. Kierkegaard and his German contemporaries, 2007
  4. Kenny, Anthony. Oxford Illustrated History of Western Philosophy, 2001, p.220-224.
  5. Rutherford (1998) is a detailed scholarly study of Leibniz's theodicy.
  6. The World as Will and Representation , Vol. 2, Ch. 48 (Dover page 616), "The ascetic tendency is certainly unmistakable in genuine and original Christianity, as it was developed in the writings of the Church Fathers from the kernel of the New Testament; this tendency is the highest point to which everything strives upwards."
  7. "Foundationalism and Hermeneutics". www.friesian.com. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2010-09-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2010-09-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. Mantzavinos, C. (22 June 2016). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved 22 March 2018 via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  11. Habermas, Jürgen. (1987). The Theory of Communicative Action. Third Edition, Vols. 1 & 2, Beacon Press.
  12. Habermas, Jürgen. (1990). Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, MIT Press.
  13. Habermas, Jürgen. (1987). The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. MIT Press.