The Rectification of (Political) Names: Addressing Habermas’s Colonization via “the Political” to Remake the World


This exercise in applied philosophy argues that if the philosophical ideas of Jürgen Habermas are to be implemented in order to achieve a liberated, emancipated society free of domination, and address other problems he identifies in the contemporary world, there must be active involvement of both politicians and political theorists in the project, as well as some theoretical and practical changes in Habermas’s approach regarding the notion of “the political” in the realm of practical politics. This paper builds upon an earlier article titled “The Rectification of (Modern) Names” and develops the key Confucian idea of the rectification of names. Specifically, this paper attempts to extend to the political realm of an earlier argument that Habermas’s analysis that system forces are colonizing the lifeworld is the best angle to attempt to realign contemporary political terms with the realities they should represent. As system is part of lifeworld, displacing lifeworld norms by system norms threatens the very existence of the lifeworld. Moreover, Habermas’s thinking on philosophy, politics, and sociology could help rectify prevailing problems in Western constitutional democracies, especially if practical politics were carried out using Habermas’s ideas on communicative action and discourse ethics. This paper attempts to put into practical terms of some problems Habermas left in philosophical ones, and such practical terms represent a modest solution, addressing a plethora of “irrationalities” pervading the lifeworld in its colonization by instrumental reason. The paper argues that in the unfolding of Eric Hobsbawm’s “Dual Revolution,” the Industrial Revolution continues to outstrip the Political Revolution.

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Old, J. and Ferrell, R. (2015) The Rectification of (Political) Names: Addressing Habermas’s Colonization via “the Political” to Remake the World. Open Journal of Philosophy, 5, 418-444. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2015.57050.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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