Biography (World Philosophers and Their Works)
Article abstract: An important member of the Frankfurt School for Social Research, Habermas is best known for his attempts to articulate a comprehensive and emancipatory theory of language, communication, and the evolution of society within an ethical framework.
Jürgen Habermas, the son of Ernst Habermas and Greta Kottgen Habermas, grew up in Gummersbach, Germany, where his father was the head of the bureau of industry and trade. His parents supported neither the Nazis nor the opposition, but Habermas was, for a time, a member of Adolf Hitler’s youth group. His attitude toward Nazism changed when, at age fifteen, he listened to reports of the Nuremburg trials and saw documentaries about life in the German concentration camps. These experiences shattered his sense of normality and raised his level of political consciousness.
After graduating from high school in 1949, Habermas studied philosophy, history, psychology, German literature, and economics at the Universities of Göttingen, Zurich, and Bonn. At this time, he was struck by the fact that World War II had not affected the thinking of his professors and had not caused them to reflect critically on the philosophical views they held and taught. Their indifference to self-reflective criticism generated his interest in and enthusiasm for critical theory. He received his doctorate from the University of Bonn after completing his dissertation on...
(The entire section is 2377 words.)
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