Husserl Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 41–62 | Cite as

On Habermas’s Critique of Husserl



Over four decades, Habermas has put to paper many critical remarks on Husserl’s work as occasion has demanded. These scattered critical engagements nonetheless do add up to a coherent (if contestable) position regarding the project of transcendental phenomenology. This essay provides a comprehensive reconstruction of the arguments Habermas makes and offers a critical assessment of them. With an eye in particular to the theme of intersubjectivity (a theme of fundamental interest to both thinkers), it is argued that Habermas’s arguments do indeed show up deficiencies in Husserlian phenomenology and yet that they do not succeed in proving that we must abandon the methods and tasks of phenomenological research. On the contrary, it is argued that phenomenological methods may well be needed in order to investigate certain philosophical questions that Habermas’s theory of communication has thus far only partially addressed.


  1. Baynes, K. (1990). Crisis and life-world in Husserl and Habermas. In A. B. Dallery, C. E. Scott, & P. Holley Roberts (Eds.), Crises in continental philosophy (pp. 57–68). Albany, NY: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  2. Carr, D. (1973). The fifth meditation and Husserl’s cartesianism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 34(1), 14–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Claesges, U. (1972). Zweideutigkeiten in Husserls Lebenswelt-begriff. In U. Claesges & K. Held (Eds.), Perspektiven transzendentalphaeomenologischer Forschung (pp. 85–101). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  4. Crowell, S. G. (1999). The project of ultimate grounding and the appeal to intersubjectivity in recent transcendental philosophy. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 7(1), 31–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dallmayr, F. R. (1987). Life-world and communicative action. In Critical encounters: Between philosophy and politics. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  6. Derrida, J. (1973). Speech and phenomena (D. B. Allison, Trans.). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dews, P. (1995). Modernity, self-consciousness, and the scope of philosophy: Jürgen Habermas and Dieter Henrich in debate. In The limits of disenchantment: Essays on contemporary European philosophy (pp. 169–193). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  8. Frank, M. (2002). Self-consciousness and self-knowledge: On some difficulties with the reduction of subjectivity. Constellations, 9(3), 390–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fultner, B. (2001). Intelligibility and conflict resolution in the lifeworld. Continental Philosophy Review, 34, 419–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Habermas, J. (1972). Knowledge and human interests (J. J. Shapiro, Trans.). London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  11. Habermas, J. (1973). Theory and practice. (J. Viertel, Trans.). Boston, MA: Beacon.Google Scholar
  12. Habermas, J. (1984). Theory of communicative action, Vol. 1 (T. McCarthy, Trans.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  13. Habermas, J. (1987a). Theory of communicative action, Vol. 2 (T. McCarthy, Trans.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  14. Habermas, J. (1987b). The philosophical discourse of modernity (F. Lawrence, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  15. Habermas, J. (1988). On the logic of the social sciences (S. W. Nicholsen & J. A. Stark, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Habermas, J. (1990). Philosophy as stand-in and interpreter. In Moral consciousness and communicative action (pp. 1–20) (C. Lenhardt & S. W. Nicholsen, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Habermas, J. (1991a). Edmund Husserl über Lebenswelt, Philosophie und Wissenschaft. In Texte und Kontexte (pp. 34–48). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  18. Habermas, J. (1991b). A reply. In A. Honneth & H. Joas (Eds.), Communicative action (pp. 214–264). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  19. Habermas, J. (1992). Postmetaphysical thinking (W. M. Hohengarten, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Habermas, J. (1998). In Cooke Maeve (Ed.), On the pragmatics of communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Habermas, J. (2001). On the pragmatics of social interaction (B. Fultner, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (The Christian Gauss Lectures, 1971.).Google Scholar
  22. Habermas, J. (2002). The German idealism of the Jewish philosophers. In E. Medieta (Ed.), Religion and rationality: Essays on reason, God, and modernity (pp. 37–59). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  23. Habermas, J. (2003). Truth and justification (B. Fultner, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. Habermas, J. and Luhmann, N. (1971). Theorie der Gesellschaft oder Sozialtechnologie: was leistet die Systemforschung? Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  25. Harrington, A. (2001). Hermeneutic dialogue and social science: A critique of Gadamer and Habermas. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time (J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson, Trans.). New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  27. Henrich, D. (1998). Subjektivität als Prinzip. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 46(1), 31–44.Google Scholar
  28. Honneth, A. (1995). The struggle for recognition: On Sartre’s theory of intersubjectivity. In The fragmented world of the social: Essays in social and political philosophy (pp. 158–67). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  29. Husserliana I: Husserl, E. (1929). Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge. Den Haag, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1950. D. Cairns (Trans.). Cartesian meditations: An introduction to phenomenology. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960.Google Scholar
  30. Husserliana VI: Husserl, E. (1934–1937). Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie. Eine Einleitung in die phänomenologische Philosophie. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962. D. Carr (Trans.). The crisis of the European sciences: An introduction to phenomenological philosophy. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970.Google Scholar
  31. Husserliana XVII: Husserl, E. (1929). Formale und transzendentale Logik. Versuch einer Kritik derlogischen Vernunft. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974; D. Cairns (Trans.). Formal and transcendental logic. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969.Google Scholar
  32. Hutcheson, P. (1980). Husserl’s problem of intersubjectivity. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 11, 144–162.Google Scholar
  33. Landgrebe, L. (1984). Life-world and the historicity of human existence. In B. Waldenfels, J. Broekman & A. Pazanin (Eds.) Phenomenology and marxism (pp. 167–204) (J. C. Evans, Trans.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  34. McCarthy, T. (1978). The critical theory of Jürgen Habermas. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mead, G. H. (1964). The mechanism of social consciousness. In A. J. Reck (Ed.), Selected writings: George Herbert Mead (pp. 134–141). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  36. Nagl, L. (1988). Zeigt die Habermassche Kommunikationstheorie einen ‘Ausweg aus der Subjektphilosophie’? Erwägungen zur Studie ‘Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne’. M. Frank, G. r. Raulet and W. van Reijen (Eds.) Die Frage nach dem Subjekt (pp. 346–372). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  37. Schutz, A. (1970). The problem of transcendental intersubjectivity in Husserl. In Collected papers III: Studies in phenomenological philosophy (pp. 51–91). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  38. Theunissen, M. (1984). The other: Studies in the social ontology of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Buber (C. Macann, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  39. Zahavi, D. (2001). Husserl and transcendental intersubjectivity (E. A. Behnke, Trans.). Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations