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Habermas Presentation 1

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Jürgen Habermas
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Jürgen Habermas

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1959 Martin Heidegger reaffirms

the “inner truth and greatness”of Nazism

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Habermas concludes the German philosophical tradition has failed.

He turns to the Anglo-American tradition… .

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“Only in the light of the public sphere did that which existed become revealed, did everything become visible to all.

In the discussion among citizens, issues were made topical and took on shape. In the competition among equals, the best excelled and gained their essence - the immortality of fame.”

- Habermas on the public sphere in ancient Greece

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Rise of the European Public Sphere

“Around the middle of the 17 century, after not only tea – first to be popular – but also chocolate and coffee had become the common beverages of at least the well-to-do strata of the population, the coachman of a Levantine merchant opened the first coffee house. By the first decade of the eighteenth century London already had 3,000 of them, each with core group of regulars.”

- Habermas

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1652: first coffee house in London

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London Coffeehouse 1688

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“The founders of Button's were always convinced that they could effect a degree of social change through the capital's most social institution.”

[“The Coffeehouses of Augustan London”: http://www.historytoday.com/john-d-pelzer/coffee-houses-augustan-london]

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What was the Public Sphere?

“The bourgeois public sphere [that emerged in the mid-1600s] may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public. . . The medium of this political confrontation was peculiar and without precedent: people’s public use of their reason.

- Habermas

“a place between private individuals and government authorities in which people could meet and have critical debates about public matters.” -Wikipedia

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“rational-critical discussion”

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Reasons the Public Sphere Disappeared

1. Expansion of state

2. Transformation of the news media into a business (“conviction” replaced by “commerce”)

3. Rise of opinion management and PR

4. Rise of consumerism

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = “refeudalization” of the public sphere

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“The world is governed too much.”

— Boston Globe motto, mid-19th century

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Habermas as Lightning Rod

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“Some critics claim the public sphere, as such, never existed, or existed only in the sense of excluding many important groups, such as the poor, women, slaves, migrants, and criminals.”

- Wikipedia

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“But the web itself does not produce any public spheres. Its structure is not suited to focusing the attention of a dispersed public of citizens who form opinions simultaneously on the same topics and contributions which have been scrutinised and filtered by experts.”

-Habermas, Financial Times, 2010

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• 2010 Habermas Interview, Financial Times

• Walter Lippmann, The Phantom Public

• John Dewey, The Public and Its Problems

• Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

• Habermas, “The Public Sphere” (synopsis)

Read About It

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Build It

1713 2015