The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas was perhaps the most prominent thinker in Europe since the 1960s, as studies of philosophy, sociology, and history put him in an exceptional position, and his articles and press interviews guided public discussions on political topics such as the Iraq war, the memory of the Holocaust, and the economic and political integration of Europe.
Thus, the American Foreign Policy magazine described , a few weeks ago, the ninetieth philosopher (born in 1929), who is considered one of the most important theorists of the Frankfurt School of Criticism and the author of the theory of “communicative action”, in a report entitled “Why did Habermas disappear?” Read also Reading in the books of John Gray .. Why do we justify wars and tragedies with noble goals?Religion, secularization, and the incomplete enlightenment project … the German philosopher Habermas presents his history of philosophy in conjunction with his 90th birthday.Hayy Bin Yaqzan and Robinson Crusoe .. Controversy over Islamic influence on Western Enlightenment literature
However, Habermas did not disappear, as he returned to the spotlight strongly at the helm of global news sites and agencies after his refusal, on Sunday, to accept the Sheikh Zayed Book Award presented by the United Arab Emirates. He considered that accepting it was a wrong decision, as he did not think well about the political significance of his choice of that award, according to the German magazine Spiegel, which published a criticism of his acceptance of the award in an article indicating the absence of tolerance and democracy policies in the UAE, warning of the German philosopher turning into a propaganda tool to hide the brutality of an oppressive regime. According to the German magazine article.
The German philosopher wrote to the magazine after reading the article that criticized him that he corrected his previous decision, adding, “I did not adequately appreciate the close relationship between the institution that awards the award and the political system established there.”
For its part, the German magazine praised the philosopher’s retreat from the large prize (750 thousand dirhams) (more than 204 thousand dollars), noting his great position in the country. “By correcting himself, the philosopher remains faithful to communicative enlightenment and its most important values,” Spiegel editor Dietmar Bieber wrote, expressing his graceful admiration for the ninetieth philosopher’s mentality that led him to say no.
In his statement, Habermas quoted from a Spiegel article verbatim: “Usually, when rationality collides with force, power (authority) wins. But in the long run I believe in the enlightening power of the critical word, if it appears only in the general political sphere, and my books that have been translated into Arabic suffice.”
Reactions to the position of the German philosopher continued from activists and intellectuals, so the Egyptian human rights defender Gamal Eid wrote a comparison between Habermas’s rejection of the award and the positions of other intellectuals, such as the Egyptian novelist Sanalla Ibrahim and the Spanish Juan Goytisolo, who refused similar Arab awards.
Sanalla Ibrahim al-Masri by rejecting the Mubarak regime award, polishing the image of the criminal regime of 2003, Juan Khoatzlou, the Spanish, rejects the Gaddafi Prize, literary and polishing portrayal of the 2009
German criminal regime , Jürgen Hebersan refuses the Sheikh Zayed Prize of the Emirates, and polishes the image of a criminal regime 2021.
The world still has people who prefer principles over money
– Gamal Eid (@gamaleid) May 2, 2021
The translator and academic Abd al-Salam Haider drew attention to a mistake in announcing the Sheikh Zayed Prize for Habermas’s books, as one of his translations was mistakenly attributed to someone other than the true translator. Advertising
The Lebanese academic, Wissam Saadeh, noted that Habermas was consistent with a basic idea that the award was not issued by a specific political system.
Habermas rejected the award estimated at 225 thousand euros, because “the principles of democracy that he adopts contradict the political system in the Emirates, and he made it clear that the authority is temporarily winning over the mind, but in the long term the word must illuminate the path. ?? https://t.co/NySUo9BCkF
– Alaa Alaa (@alaaqq) May 2, 2021
Philosopher of the European continent
Habermas’s philosophical project emerged from the traumas of Germany after the World War, as he narrowly escaped military conscription in wartime, and was 15 years old at the time of the Nazi collapse. To listen later to the radio broadcast of the Nuremberg trials of the leaders of the Nazis.
Determined to reveal the path “by which German history went a wrong way”, and in an effort to explore whether German culture possessed the resources to rebuild the country, Habermas abandoned the idea of studying medicine to pursue philosophy lessons, rejecting the prevailing ideas of existentialism and cultural despair, and instead He became one of the most prominent theorists of the Frankfurt School of Philosophy with Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, who had co-built their Institute for Social Research that turned into a haven for critical discussion amid the declining academic culture after the war in West Germany.
Born into the Protestant middle-class society in West Germany, Habermas became the most prominent contemporary European philosopher with a career spanning nearly 7 decades, during which he developed a philosophical system linking epistemology, linguistics, sociology, politics, religion and law.
Democracy, according to Habermas, requires an active political space and political institutions capable of responding and integrating the energy that arises from debate, protest, confrontation and politics.
The German philosopher – who is described as the heir of the legacy of the Frankfurt School that invented philosophical concepts such as technical hegemony and instrumental reason – warned of the increasing threat of national “populism” and the extreme right, seeing that the political authorities blinded him under the pretext of hegemonic anti-communism.
As Europe (and in particular Germany) absorbed new waves of Muslim immigrants, Habermas sought to combat xenophobic rhetoric, stressing the importance of democracy in dealing with religious differences.
In a recent interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, the famous German philosopher analyzed the ethical and political consequences of the current global health crisis, urged the European Union to help the most affected member states, and said, “We have to fight for the abolition of neoliberalism.”
At a time when crises are on the increase, Habermas suggests that humanity already possesses the necessary resources with which it can be balanced by directing it towards the public interest, and drawing on the legacy of the Frankfurt School philosophical and postmodern criticism, he sees history as a “story of human learning” and a record of solved problems and challenges. Which is being overcome.
Habermas called for a collective European identity based on what he calls “constitutional patriotism” that replaces class, religion and the nation in the old continent. He opposed fascism, nationalism and the rise of the right, calling for the reliance of liberal democracies in the West on “respecting human dignity.”
The German philosopher developed the concept of “constitutional patriotism” in the late eighties, opposing the building of Germany after the war on a national basis. Rather, it must be built on the broader European liberal democratic traditions in which citizens should find their identity in a “constitutional national” open to all human beings instead of centering around national history, According to a review by Foreign Policy
Habermas argued that the Europeans should see themselves united by the legacy of the French Revolution and the values of human rights, and he opposed the Iraq war, criticizing the Bush administration for “violating international law,” and denounced the positions of some Eastern European countries that supported the US intervention in Iraq, and found signs of hope in what he called “the strength of sentiments.” That inspired millions of Europeans to protest the invasion of Iraq.
The public role of the thinker
Habermas’s philosophical texts appeared in more than 40 languages, and Habermas distinguished himself as a strong defender of the public role of the thinker, and his dialogues with prominent philosophers such as the American John Rawls and the French Michel Foucault sparked controversy in the field of the human sciences, and his political comments formed disagreements on topics such as historical memory, European unity and even Genetic Engineering.
In his new work, which he presented in conjunction with his 90th birthday, entitled “This is also the history of philosophy,” the philosopher tried to answer a question that always occupies him about the function of philosophy in today’s world.
Habermas sought to study the history of more than 3 thousand years of the history of philosophy, in his latest project, published in two volumes of nearly 1,700 pages, to comprehensively reformulate human history, considering that the fragmentation of modern life exhausted the ability of philosophy to bold questions, and the German philosopher studies the progress of humanity through an analysis The “public mind” and the development of its history, as well as trying to answer the question: How did philosophy separate itself from religion and become secular?
In his book, Habermas remained clear about the foundational role of Western Christianity in modern philosophy, and traced the rise of rationalism, saying that “secularism is still incomplete” as there is no alternative to the ethics of religious justice and love, as he put it.