Mimesis in communicative action: Habermas and the affective bond of understanding
Miller, Gregg Daniel, 1967-
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Within contemporary political theory, liberals and conservatives, moderns and postmoderns, Marxists and post-Marxists alike mark out their positions vis-a-vis Jurgen Habermas' theory of communicative action and discourse ethics. The standard reading of Habermas supposes him an ardent rationalist and a defender of a neo-Kantian concept of autonomy. Contrary to the standard interpretation, I argue that the theory of communicative action does not merely entail democratic procedure, but also offers implicitly a theory of the production of meaning and solidarity.I show how Habermas backfills his theory of communicative rationality with a substantive accommodation among participants by reintroducing into the concept of rationality its ancient Greek complicity with mimetic power. Habermas' innovative rendering of a specifically communicative rationality poses mimesis as productive of an articulate, affective binding effect in communication. Properly understood, Habermas' theory must be viewed not as rationalist, but as an attempt to close the gap within the classical debate between philosophy and poetry, articulating a new field of post-metaphysical thinking and action.After introducing the themes of reason and mimesis in political philosophy, I develop my reconstruction of communicative rationality over three main chapters concerning Habermas' appropriation of Plato (mimesis), George Herbert Mead (identity-formation), and Walter Benjamin ( the experience of language).My project contributes to contemporary debates in normative political philosophy at the intersection of democratic theory, moral theory and aesthetic theory.
- Political science