Analysis Of The First Critical Theory Of Rationalist Positivism: Empirism

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Analysis of the first critical theory of rationalist positivism: Empirism


With this work, the approach of the first criticism of positivist rationalism is presented, with which Habermas proposes a restructuring of modern reasoning, which begins as an analysis of the discussion for the analytical theory of science and dialectic previously carried out by Albert Hans, represented inThe work of the dialectic of the illustration of Adorno and Horkheimer. (Adorno & Horkheimer, 1998)

Habermas presents some observations that give understanding that, for modern reasoning, these statements lead to a situation lacking valid perspectives. For his part, the author bases his proposal, on the relationship between knowledge and interest from the anthropological point of view, and contrasting it to the pure philosophical criteria, revealing on the way, various dilemma of rationality, as stated by critical theory.

In this way, a redemption is sought for a new self-reflective facet of modern reason as a Habermasian attempt to reconstruct a rationality that has been historically ignored, and displaced by a dull version of reasoning, socially stated as positivism.

Central thesis

Habermas puts certain observations in which he expresses his discrepancies with the thought of Adorno and Horkheimer mentions:

"My criticism is directed, not against the practice of strict experimental sciences, nor against that of a sociology focused in terms of behavior science … My criticism is directed exclusively against the positivist interpretation of such research processes because thefalse awareness of a correct praxis reobs on this ”(Habermas, 1988)

Habermas differs from the conception of rationalism proposed by them in a radical way as a simplistic analysis of modernity, it expresses that the three constituent phenomena of the differentiation of Max Weber value spheres are overlooked in their definition of modernity. Following the simplifications, the dialectic of the Enlightenment will not be equated with the cultural modernity that the bourgeois ideals established

Habermas reproaches his predecessors the intrinsic perception of modernity as a synonym of self-observing rationality, although it does not dissect the death of substantial reason, of yesterynow released from subjectivities can be transformed into a procedural reason whose foundations focus on science and social principles.

He also mentions Habermas that, the radicality of the notions sustained in the dialectic of the Enlightenment, makes it unsustainable.

So that only the consolidation of modernity as a discourse of myth and religion can constitute new spheres of value with a potential that independent it, and that only through this consolidation an ideological criticism may arise capable of revealing the hidden interests afterSocial discourse, this based on Marxian ideological criticism that investigates the unmasking of latent power relations in the apparent representation of society.

All this sets a marked separation of the subjectivities in which it falls once the validity of strict knowledge is justified, alluding that sources of knowledge such as thought and tradition cannot expose immediate evidence with pure validity, losing legitimacy and emphasizing theimpurity of these means of knowledge.

With all this, Habermas comments that the validly logical would be to confront scientific theories with mythological or subjective facts as an initial reflection stage, followed by a process of verification of the theories that reveal the facts as the product of the analysis. Different from the concept expressed by Popper’s positivism by mentioning the critical tradition, who, in his apparent search for a balance between the sources of knowledge (Suárez Iñiguez, 2008), distorts the epistemological independence of the facts with respect to the theories that evaluate them.


Actually, in the opinion of Habermas, the problem would reside in the philosophical conception based on consciousness, where objects are given and identity through the confrontation between man and nature. It emphasizes that a logic model based on an intersubjective sense between individuals with relational links must be raised, making it a communicative paradigm.

Habermas places modern philosophy as an attempt to study the contexts in which scientific knowledge acquires validity, so that the role of philosophy was as a predecessor of science. For Hegel, philosophy is a manifestation of absolute knowledge, relegating science as a purely limited knowledge.

In this way, Habermas proposes a dissolution of the modern theory of knowledge as a methodological theory represented by positivism, where the fundamental problem of science would already be annulled. While Hegel reproached Kantism for establishing a critical justification of knowledge conditions, Habermas takes this criticism by rejecting the separation that Hegel exposes between true science and absolute knowledge.

So that positivist knowledge theory must be suppressed by replacing him with a theory of science that renounces the explanation of the very meaning of knowledge. In addition, it limits its field to the analysis of the methodological procedures of science. The elimination of the problem of the subject and the sense of knowledge is carried out assuming a completely objectivist perspective and based on the fact that knowledge is considered, a relationship between statements and facts.


The dialectic of the Enlightenment is an attempt to explain how the illustration that opposes and dismantles the myth, ornament and horkheimer conceive the project illustrated from the perspective of the identification of reason and domain in the core of rationality, and from that they seekexpose pathologies that affect modern society. In this sense, Habermas refuses to conceive the failure of the illustration from the conception of a subjectivity of the latent real in rationality.

From the conception of the interests of knowledge, the vision of the rationality of empiricism objected by Popper while refuting the thesis that he between himself gives himself in the evidence of the sensitive experience, the subjectivity implicit in the collection of knowledge is demonstratedrational from the point of view of sensitive experience. This perception was declined by Kant referring to the limits of human perception, and on the other hand criticisms such as Hegel, Perice or Husserl, express different points of view that there is no such thing as a mediated knowledge and that the search for aexperience inherited as a precedent for experimentation based only on the senses, limits the perception of reality not only due to individual physiological characteristics, but also becomes a problem of subjectivity anchored in early personal experience generating the expectations that limit thepure criteria required science to evaluate theories.

Popper states that experimental data are interpretations with roots in the theories that precede it and therefore share the hypothetical character of these lasts (Popper, 1991). Habermas describes this assertion as incomplete by stating that the proven conjectures that are subject to scientific studies and rigorous evaluations to refute them, and that they have passed these tests satisfactorily, cannot be called as derivations of the hypotheses, but minimally recognized asproven hypothesis.


  1. Adorno, t., & Horkheimer, M. (1998). Illustration Dialectic. Madrid: Trotta S.A. Obtained from https: // communication
  2. Habermas, j. (1988). The logic of the social sciences. Obtained from https: //
  3. Popper, k. (1991). Conjectures and refutations: the development of scientific knowledge. London: Paidos. Obtained from https: // elartde
  4. Suárez Iñiguez, and. (12 of 2008). Popper’s failures. A critic. Scaffolding, 5 (9). Obtained from http: // = sci_arttext & pid = s1870-006320080002007     

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