On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction: Preliminary Studies in the Theory of Communicative Action
In 1971 Jürgen Habermas delivered the Gauss Lectures at Princeton University. These pivotal lectures, entitled "Reflections on the Linguistic Foundation of Sociology," anticipate The Theory of Communicative Action and offer an excellent introduction to it. They show why Habermas considers the linguistic turn in social philosophy to be necessary and contain the first formulation of formal pragmatics, including an important discussion of truth. In these lectures and two additional essays, Habermas outlines an intersubjective approach to social theory that takes the concepts of meaning and communication to be central. In doing so, he situates his project relative to other influential accounts of how meaning is constituted, in particular those of Edmund Husserl, Wilfrid Sellars, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He examines the nature of social interaction and its connection to communication, developing a linguistic conception of convention and intentionality. He also offers an account of social and individual pathologies using the concept of systematically distorted communication. Taken together, these analyses contribute significantly to current debates in the philosophy of action and language.