DOI 10.12887/33-2020-1-129-06

Magdalena SAGANIAK – How to Understand the Other? Bakhtin and Habermas

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The article includes a comparative study of the issue of ‘dialogue’ based on Jürgen Habermas’s work The Theory of Communicative Action and Mikhail Bakhtin’s article “The Problem of the Text in Linguistics, Philology, and the Human Sciences: An Experiment in Philosophical Analysis,” included in his Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Both texts exhibit a similar way of argument, proceeding from an explanation of the conditions for understanding the Other to an intersubjective, or objective, concept of the world. Both texts manifest also an effort to describe the concept of ‘Logos’ based on an analysis of speech and communicative acts, as well as propose to embed dialogue in the reality of social life conceived as an intersubjective realm of open and dynamic balance between individual freedom and the community. However, the comparison of Habermas’s and Bakhtin’s ideas shows that their views of the relationship between the subjective and objective aspects of a speech act diverge radically. While Habermas accepts the hypothesis of a continuous development of communicative rationality in culture, which is thus capable of constant verification of its rules of communication, which in turns enables dialogue, argument, and understanding, Bakhtin, having conceived of a spoken word in terms of an unrepeatable act, develops a philosophy of acting. To Bakhtin, rationality is merely an aspect of responsibility, which, as such, marks every act performed by a human being.

Translated by Dorota Chabrajska

Keywords: Jürgen Habermas, Mikhail Bakhtin, dialogue, understanding, speech act, communication, rationality, freedom, responsibility, culture, lifeworld

Contact: Zakład Metodologii Badań Literackich, Instytut Filologii Polskiej, Wydział Nauk Humanistycznych, Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego,
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  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887