With a Foreword by Richard J. Bernstein and an Afterword by John Durham Peters
2 Seyla Benhabib: Foundations for Critical Communication Theory and Praxis ANDREW R. SMITH 35
2 Seyla Benhabib Foundations for Critical Communication Theory and Praxis ANDREW R. SMITH ________________________________________ Seyla Benhabib was born in 1950 to Jewish parents in Turkey, where she attended private schools and learned early in life how public and private worlds overlap and sometimes collide. Through her upbringing, schooling, and relentless crossing of geographical boundaries, she has lived to a considerable extent both corporeally and socially what she now engages in philosophically and politically. Although she has never been rendered stateless or lost her citizenship, like Hannah Arendt whose philosophy of action she extends, Benhabib understands the very real threats of losing citizenship, of being restricted in movement and discriminated against because of ethnic, religious, and national identity. As such, it is no surprise that her work is allied with the politics of recognition advanced by Charles Taylor, Nancy Fraser, and Axel Honneth, among others. With Fraser and Agnes Heller, Benhabib is associated with the new gen- eration of critical theorists of the Frankfurt School, whose work emphasizes both normative political critique and empirical social analysis as complemen- tary modalities for exposing contradictions and injustices related to identity and the crossing of national and cultural boundaries. In this and related work, she significantly advances Jürgen Habermas’s theory of communicative ac- tion and discourse ethics in an attempt to mediate the modern social scientific interest in universal pragmatics and the postmodern interest in addressing singular concrete instances of injustice. She advocates for narrative integrity that helps to sustain human dignity in the...
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