|Birth Day:||June 18, 1929|
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He studied philosophy and psychology at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main Institute for Social Research.
Habermas was born in Gummersbach, Rhine Province, in 1929. He was born with a cleft palate and had corrective surgery twice during childhood. Habermas argues that his speech disability made him think differently about the importance of deep dependence and of communication.
As a young teenager, he was profoundly affected by World War II. Until his graduation from gymnasium, Habermas lived in Gummersbach, near Cologne. His father, Ernst Habermas, was Executive director of the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and was described by Habermas as a Nazi sympathizer and, from 1933, a member of the NSDAP. Habermas himself was a Jungvolkführer, a leader of the German Jungvolk, which was a section of the Hitler Youth. He was brought up in a staunchly Protestant milieu, his grandfather being the director of the seminary in Gummersbach. He studied at the universities of Göttingen (1949/50), Zurich (1950/51), and Bonn (1951–54) and earned a doctorate in philosophy from Bonn in 1954 with a dissertation written on the conflict between the absolute and history in Schelling's thought, entitled, Das Absolute und die Geschichte. Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken ("The Absolute and History: On the Schism in Schelling's Thought"). His dissertation committee included Erich Rothacker and Oskar Becker.
From 1956 on, he studied philosophy and sociology under the critical theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno at the Goethe University Frankfurt's Institute for Social Research, but because of a rift between the two over his dissertation—Horkheimer had made unacceptable demands for revision—as well as his own belief that the Frankfurt School had become paralyzed with political skepticism and disdain for modern culture, he finished his habilitation in political science at the University of Marburg under the Marxist Wolfgang Abendroth. His habilitation work was entitled Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft (published in English translation in 1989 as The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society). It is a detailed social history of the development of the bourgeois public sphere from its origins in the 18th century salons up to its transformation through the influence of capital-driven mass media. In 1961 he became a Privatdozent in Marburg, and—in a move that was highly unusual for the German academic scene of that time—he was offered the position of "extraordinary professor" (professor without chair) of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg (at the instigation of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Karl Löwith) in 1962, which he accepted. In this same year he gained his first serious public attention, in Germany, with the publication of his habilitation. In 1964, strongly supported by Adorno, Habermas returned to Frankfurt to take over Horkheimer's chair in philosophy and sociology. The philosopher Albrecht Wellmer was his assistant in Frankfurt from 1966 to 1970.
He accepted the position of Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of the Scientific-Technical World in Starnberg (near Munich) in 1971, and worked there until 1983, two years after the publication of his magnum opus, The Theory of Communicative Action. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1984.
Habermas is famous as a public intellectual as well as a scholar; most notably, in the 1980s he used the popular press to attack the German historians Ernst Nolte, Michael Stürmer, Klaus Hildebrand and Andreas Hillgruber. Habermas first expressed his views on the above-mentioned historians in the Die Zeit on 11 July 1986 in a feuilleton (a type of culture and arts opinion essay in German newspapers) entitled "A Kind of Settlement of Damages". Habermas criticized Nolte, Hildebrand, Stürmer and Hillgruber for "apologistic" history writing in regard to the Nazi era, and for seeking to "close Germany's opening to the West" that in Habermas's view had existed since 1945.
Habermas then returned to his chair at Frankfurt and the directorship of the Institute for Social Research. Since retiring from Frankfurt in 1993, Habermas has continued to publish extensively. In 1986, he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research. He also holds the position of "permanent visiting" professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and "Theodor Heuss Professor" at The New School, New York.
At the end of the 1990s, Habermas approached Derrida at a party held at an American university where both were lecturing. They then met at Paris over dinner, and participated afterwards in many joint projects. In 2000 they held a joint seminar on problems of philosophy, right, ethics, and politics at the University of Frankfurt. In December 2000, in Paris, Habermas gave a lecture entitled "How to answer the ethical question?" at the Judeities. Questions for Jacques Derrida conference organized by Joseph Cohen and Raphael Zagury-Orly. Following the lecture by Habermas, both thinkers engaged in a very heated debate on Heidegger and the possibility of Ethics. The conference volume was published at the Editions Galilée (Paris) in 2002, and subsequently in English at Fordham University Press (2007).
In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, Derrida and Habermas laid out their individual opinions on 9/11 and the War on Terror in Giovanna Borradori's Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. In early 2003, both Habermas and Derrida were very active in opposing the coming Iraq War; in a manifesto that later became the book Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe, the two called for a tighter unification of the states of the European Union in order to create a power capable of opposing American foreign policy. Derrida wrote a foreword expressing his unqualified subscription to Habermas's declaration of February 2003 ("February 15, or, What Binds Europeans Together: Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in Core Europe") in the book, which was a reaction to the Bush administration's demands upon European nations for support in the coming Iraq War. Habermas has offered further context for this declaration in an interview.
Habermas and Jacques Derrida engaged in a series of disputes beginning in the 1980s and culminating in a mutual understanding and friendship in the late 1990s that lasted until Derrida's death in 2004. They originally came in contact when Habermas invited Derrida to speak at The University of Frankfurt in 1984. The next year Habermas published "Beyond a Temporalized Philosophy of Origins: Derrida" in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity in which he described Derrida's method as being unable to provide a foundation for social critique. Derrida, citing Habermas as an example, remarked that, "those who have accused me of reducing philosophy to literature or logic to rhetoric ... have visibly and carefully avoided reading me". After Derrida's final rebuttal in 1989 the two philosophers did not continue, but, as Derrida described it, groups in the academy "conducted a kind of 'war', in which we ourselves never took part, either personally or directly".
Habermas was awarded The Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences of 2003. Habermas was also the 2004 Kyoto Laureate in the Arts and Philosophy section. He traveled to San Diego and on 5 March 2005, as part of the University of San Diego's Kyoto Symposium, gave a speech entitled The Public Role of Religion in Secular Context, regarding the evolution of separation of church and state from neutrality to intense secularism. He received the 2005 Holberg International Memorial Prize (about €520,000). In 2007, Habermas was listed as the seventh most-cited author in the humanities (including the social sciences) by The Times Higher Education Guide, ahead of Max Weber and behind Erving Goffman.
In early 2007, Ignatius Press published a dialogue between Habermas and the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Holy Office Joseph Ratzinger (elected as Pope Benedict XVI in 2005), entitled The Dialectics of Secularization. The dialogue took place on 14 January 2004 after an invitation to both thinkers by the Catholic Academy of Bavaria in Munich. It addressed contemporary questions such as:
Jurgen was married and had three children.
Currently, Jurgen Habermas is 93 years, 3 months and 8 days old. Jurgen Habermas will celebrate 94th birthday on a Sunday 18th of June 2023. Below we countdown to Jurgen Habermas upcoming birthday.