Knowledge and Interest

  • Jürgen Habermas


Husserl saw as a reason for the crisis of a positivistic science its dissociation from practical interests. His remedy was to institute a purely contemplative attitude which should not only release the sciences from the grip of the illusion that the world is a ready-made universe of facts to be grasped in purely descriptive terms, but also by its own therapeutic powers, lead to ‘a new kind of practice’. In adhering to this traditional concept of the relation of knowledge to interest Husserl misconceived the scientific crisis. Even though phenomenological description would effectively dispel the illusion of objectivism, objectivism in no way prevents science from influencing practice; what was needed was not to restore the practical signifi­cance of the sciences by making them finally break with interest, but rather to reveal the true relationship of knowledge and interest which the objectivistic attitude conceals. After outlining the fundamental interests guiding the respective scientific enterprises, the author summarises in five theses what he takes to be the basic aspects of the relationship between knowledge and interest.1


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  1. 3.
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  2. 6.
    Cf. E. Topitsch, ‘Logik der Sozialwissenschaften’ (Kiepenhauer, Cologne, 1965); and my thesis, ‘Logik der Sozialwissenschaften’, Beiheft der ‘Philosophischen Rundschau’ (J. C. B. Mohr, Tübingen: forthcoming).Google Scholar
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    Cf. K. R. Popper ‘The Logic of Scientific Discovery’ (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1959); and my thesis, ‘Analytische Wissenschaftstheorie und Dialektik’, in ‘Zeugnisse’ (Europäische Verlagsanstalt, Frankfurt am Main, 1963) pp. 473 ff.Google Scholar
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  6. 12.
    M. White, ‘Toward Reunion in Philosophy’ ( Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1956 ).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1970

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  • Jürgen Habermas

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