Claim to Universality of Western Modernity

In this project, I refer to the origin of Western modernity, its claim to universality, and its antagonistic nature as established in the work of Jürgen Habermas. I go on to investigate the necessary conditions for the possibility of an alternative vision of Western modernity. I argue that Jürgen Habermas’s reconstruction of Critical Theory has been subjected to extensive scrutiny in recent years. However, three fundamental presuppositions of his philosophy have remained unexamined: the concept of “Occidental rationalism,” the notion of an unfinished project of modernity, and the claim to universality of modernity. My research examines the philosophy of Habermas with reference to these three principles.

On the substantive level, I have examined the question, “Does the term ‘Modernity’ refer to a specific culture, or can it be employed more broadly?” I have challenged Habermas’s unfinished project of modernity by introducing the concept of a “plurality of modernities.” Referring to Habermas’s implicitly Eurocentric claim to the universality of modernity, based in an “Occidental understanding of the world,” I have argued that universalization cannot be achieved on the basis of a specific worldview. Arguing against the feasibility of completing “the project of modernity” once and for all, I suggest that there are not only numerous paths to modernity, but also that diverse historical conditions and sociocultural environments give rise to varied forms of modernity in different parts of the world. I argue that an emancipatory theory, as Habermas’s is believed to be, ought to address an understanding of the transformation of culture rather than simply the logic of communication. Consequently, it should address cultural as well as cross-cultural conflicts in various societies, including non-Western ones.

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