The essays in this book - all of them published here for the first time - provide a long-overdue critical discussion of Jürgen Habermas's cascade of ideas. These are topped off by a freshet of original Habermas: in the final essay, he replies to the criticism developed in the preceding contributions and to other recent assessments of his work, provides an important clarification of his earlier views, and reveals the direction of his current thought. Each essay probes a particular theme in Habermas's work, and each presents both an exposition and a critique. Among the subjects covered are Habermas's theory of knowledge-constitutive interests, his account of language and truth, his "overcoming" of hermeneutics, the concept of universal pragmatics, the orientation of his thought relative to the Marxist tradition, and his project of analyzing the crisis tendencies of capitalism within the context of evolutionary theory.
The contributors are philosophers and social theorists of international standing, most of them affiliated with German, English, and American universities. They are Agnes Heller, Rudiger Bubner, Thomas McCarthy, Henning Ottmann, Mary Hesse, Steven Lukes, Anthony Giddens, Michael Schmid, Andrew Arato, and the editors. The editors have also contributed a substantial introduction outlining the central contours of Habermas's work and summarizing the main arguments of the essays.