Saturday, August 11, 2007

a secularization of prophetic calling

Can religious sensibility grow to love its place in deep time, beyond tangles of theistic vanity?

In one of the postings from that Habermas group exchange I mentioned in the previous posting, K briefly renders an argumentation strategy for renewing the integrity of prophetic calling for progressive politics, which I want to dwell with further. None of my comment below was part of the email exchange. First:

K> Amanda Anderson[...] claims that sincerity functions more as a legitimating factor for existing norms, which is why postmodern theorists reject it as simply re-inscribing dominant power structures. Postmodern theory tends to favor authenticity, she claims, in the sense of rejecting existing norms (and assigned identity categories) and challenging the status quo.

G (today): I mistakenly recalled that you wrote that Anderson favored authenticity, but maybe the upshot is the same since, apparently, she accepts the sense of norms that allegedly causes the postmodernists to favor authenticity over sincerity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

a note on authenticity vis-à-vis sincerity

In an exchange on Habermas earlier this week, the correspondent wondered (“K>>” below) about my earlier characterization of the distinction between sincerity and authenticity (“G>>>”), in response to a question from K (“K>>>>”). I responded briefly (“G>”), then more free associatively offline yesterday, which I’ll archive here (following my quoting of our exchange on this point, over four emails. The entirety of the four emails, via the Yahoo! Habermas group [May 1, 2022: which no longer exists], can be made available.

Aug. 8-9

K>>>> - Can/should we distinguish between sincerity and authenticity, as Amanda Anderson has done in her excellent defense of Habermas (“The Way We Argue Now”)?

G>>> Yes. Habermas would, I think, explicate this distinction in terms of the difference between (a) a way of life (“ethical life” in chapter 1 of Justification and Application, implicating one’s whole exemplification of lifeworldliness, so to speak), which may be variably authentic/inauthentic; and (b) one’s self-representation in communicative action, relative to one’s fidelity to asserted beliefs or values regarded as normative for interaction. Authenticity tends to pertain to living a life; genuineness pertains, for Habermas, to intentional stances in interaction.

a note of conscience in conceptual adventuring

A key feature of misunderstanding (or misreading) another person or text passage (posting, synoptic statement) is doing too much with little information. This might be innocent and creative, e.g., being inspired to think richly by ideas or questions. But it can inhibit mutuality of understanding to draw another’s representations far into foreign territory without tracking the draw, if you will. There’s nothing harmful about drawing freely, as long as one doesn’t lose sight of the difference between a representation’s own context and its deployment in one’s own conceptual adventure.