Skip to main content

The Derrida-Habermas Reader

Jacques Derrida and Jürgen Habermas have long represented opposite camps in contemporary thought. Derrida, who pioneered the intellectual style of inquiry known as deconstruction, ushered in the postmodern age with his dramatic critique of reason; Habermas, on the other hand, has consistently argued in defense of reason, modernity, and the legacy of the Enlightenment. Their many differences led to a long-standing, if scattered, dialogue, evidence of which has been available in only bits and pieces. But now, for the first time, TheDerrida-Habermas Reader brings these pieces together, along with a collection of essays documenting the intellectual relationship between two of the twentieth century’s preeminent thinkers. 

Taken together, Derrida and Habermas’s writings—combined here with contributions by other prominent philosophers and social theorists—tell the story of the two thinkers’ provocative engagement with each other’s ideas. Beyond exploring the conflict between Derrida’s deconstruction and Habermas’s communicative rationality, they show how the Derrida-Habermas encounter changed over the years, becoming more theoretically productive without ever collapsing into mutual rejection or simple compromise.

Lasse Thomassen has divided the essays—including works on philosophy and literature, ethics, politics, and international law—into four parts that cover the full range of thought in which Derrida and Habermas engaged. The last of these sections fittingly includes the thinkers’ jointly signed work on European solidarity and the Iraq War, highlighting the hopes they held in common despite their differences. The wide breadth of this book, along with Thomassen’s lucid introductions to each section, makes The Derrida-Habermas Reader an ideal starting point for anyone interested in one of the most dynamic intellectual debates of our time.

330 pages | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2 | © 2006

Philosophy: Ethics, General Philosophy, Philosophy of Society

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

Table of Contents

Introduction: Between Deconstruction and Rational Reconstruction
Part I - Philosophy and Literature
1. Leveling the Genre Distinction between Philosophy and Literature
Jürgen Habermas
2. Is There a Philosophical Language?
Jacques Derrida
3. Habermas, Derrida and the Functions of Philosophy
Richard Rorty
Part II - Ethics and Politics
4. An Allegory of Modernity/Postmodernity: Habermas and Derrida
Richard J. Bernstein
5. Frankfurt Impromptu - Remarks on Derrida and Habermas
Simon Critchley
6. Performative Powerlessness - A Response to Simon Critchley
Jacques Derrida
7. How to Respond to the Ethical Question
Jürgen Habermas
8. Democracy and Difference: Reflections on the Metapolitics of Lyotard and Derrida
Seyla Benhabib
Part III - Identity/Difference: Rights, Tolerance and Political Space
9. Dead Rights, Live Futures: On Habermas’s Attempt to Reconcile Constitutionalism and Democracy
Bonnie Honig
10. ’A Bizarre, Even Opaque Practice’: Habermas on Constitutionalism and Democracy
Lasse Thomassen
11. Religious Tolerance - The Pacemaker for Cultural Rights
Jürgen Habermas
12. Hostipitality
Jacques Derrida
13. Between Deliberation and Deconstruction: The Condition of Post-National Democracy
Martin Morris
Part IV - Beyond the Nation-State: Europe, Cosmopolitanism and International Law
14. For a Justice to Come: An Interview with Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida and Lieven De Canter
15. February 15, or What Binds Europeans Together: A Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in the Core of Europe
Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida
16. Between Hope and Terror: Habermas and Derrida Plead for the Im/Possible
Martin Beack Matustík
17. Honesty of Thought
Jacques Derrida
18. A Last Farewell: Derrida’s Enlightening Impact
Jürgen Habermas
Copyright Acknowledgements
Notes on the Contributors

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press