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Habermas: An Intellectual Biography 2021

What is perhaps most striking about the case of Habermas is the way he has managed to sustain a graceful balance between these roles. His major contributions to social and political theory display a depth of erudition and insight that is really stunning. But as a public intellectual he is a muscular critic who is unafraid of polemic. How has he simultaneously managed both roles?

Habermas: An Intellectual Biography

Seen in this light, one can perhaps understand how the two roles that Habermas has played throughout his life are parts of a single calling. The public intellectual who advocated for greater democracy and transparency in contemporary Germany could only succeed if he also plunged deep into the philosophical tradition, in which he could discover the conceptual resources for grounding his own practice of public criticism.

Matthew Specter (Ph.D., Duke) is a historian of modern Europe who writes about German intellectuals in the 20th century and the global movement of political and legal ideas. His first book, Habermas: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge, 2010) which examined the career of Germany's leading post-1945 philosopher and public intellectual, Jürgen Habermas, was translated into multiple European languages. He is currently completing a book for Stanford University Press entitled Atlantic Realisms, 1890-1980: Political Thought and Foreign Policy which compares and connects U.S. and German traditions of foreign policy "realism." In 2014, he was appointed one of five editors at History and Theory, the leading international journal in historical theory. He has won competitive research fellowships and grants from, among others, the American Council on Germany, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of the German Social Democratic Party, the Institute for the Human Sciences in Vienna, and the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University. As a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University (2008-17), where he taught modern Germany, the Holocaust, European intellectual history, and human rights history, he was the recipient of a teaching grant from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and was often nominated by students for the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Matthew Specter is an intellectual historian of modern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is the author of two monographs: The Atlantic Realists: Empire and International Political Thought Between Germany and the United States(Stanford UP, 2022) and Habermas: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge UP, 2010). Since 2014, he has served as Associate Editor of the leading international journal in the theory of history, History & Theory. A native of New York City, he was educated at Harvard, Brown (BA magna cum laude) and Duke, earning the Ph.D. in History from Duke in 2006.

Since 2017 he has taught in various programs at UC Berkeley: History, Political Economy, Global Studies and Legal Studies. His courses have ranged from the global history of decolonization and the Cold War, to European film and history since 1945, to the comparative history of populism and fascism in the US and Europe. Before coming to Berkeley, he was Associate Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University (2008-17), responsible for modern German and modern European intellectual history. He has also taught in the History departments at Stanford, Santa Clara, George Mason and Duke.

In The Atlantic Realists, intellectual historian Matthew Specter offers a boldly revisionist interpretation of "realism," a prevalent stance in post-WWII US foreign policy and public discourse and the dominant international relations theory during the Cold War. Challenging the common view of realism as a set of universally binding truths about international affairs, Specter argues that its major features emerged from a century-long dialogue between American and German intellectuals beginning in the late nineteenth century. Specter uncovers an "Atlantic realist" tradition of reflection on the prerogatives of empire and the nature of power politics conditioned by fin de siècle imperial competition, two world wars, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. Focusing on key figures in the evolution of realist thought, including Carl Schmitt, Hans Morgenthau, and Wilhelm Grewe, this book traces the development of the realist worldview over a century, dismantling myths about the national interest, Realpolitik, and the "art" of statesmanship.

Jürgen Habermas is regarded as one of the last great public intellectuals of Europe and a major contributor to the philosophy of democracy. A member of the Frankfurt School, Habermas argues that humans can have rational communication that will lead to the democratization of society and consensus. But should we be so optimistic? Why does Habermas have faith in our ability to establish this so-called rational communication and to reach consensus? And how should we reform our liberal democracies to make them more democratic? Ray and Ken reach for consensus with Matthew Specter from Central Connecticut State University, author of Habermas: An Intellectual Biography.

Peter Eli Gordon (born 1966) is a historian of philosophy, a critical theorist, and intellectual historian. The Amabel B. James Professor of History at Harvard University, Gordon focuses on continental philosophy and modern German and French thought,[2] with particular emphasis on the German philosophers Theodor Adorno and Martin Heidegger, critical theory, continental philosophy during the interwar crisis, and most recently, secularization and social thought in the 20th century.[3]

Matthew Specter is an intellectual historian of 20th century Germany, modern Europe, and international thought in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley and Associate Editor of History & Theory, and currently lectures in History at Santa Clara University. Specter is the author of two monographs: The Atlantic Realists: Empire and International Political Thought Between Germany and the United States (Stanford UP, 2022) and Habermas: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge UP, 2010).

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the YearFinalist for the 2021 Prose Awards (Biography & Autobiography category)At the Risk of Thinking is the first biography of Julia Kristeva--one of the most celebrated intellectuals in the world. Alice Jardine brings Kristeva's work to a broader readership by connecting Kristeva's personal journey, from her childhood in Communist Bulgaria to her adult life as an international public intellectual based in Paris, with the history of her ideas. Informed by extensive interviews with Kristeva herself, this telling of a remarkable woman's life story also draws out the complexities of Kristeva's writing, emphasizing her call for an urgent revival of bold interdisciplinary thinking in order to understand--and to act in--today's world.

Jürgen Habermas produced a large body of work over more than five decades. His early work was devoted to the public sphere, to modernization, and to critiques of trends in philosophy and politics. He then slowly began to articulate theories of rationality, meaning, and truth. His two-volume Theory of Communicative Action in 1981 revised and systematized many of these ideas, and inaugurated his mature thought. Afterward, he turned his attention to ethics and democratic theory. He linked theory and practice by engaging work in other disciplines and speaking as a public intellectual. Given the wide scope of his work, it is useful to identify a few enduring themes.

While Habermas is certainly aware of these criticisms, he is largely focused on defending his political theory in broad, systematic terms. If the broad normative outlines are correct then the overall theory will stand regardless of how the empirical details are filled in. Indeed, Habermas is rather unique among contemporary philosophers both in his systematic approach to large areas of theory and in his willingness to allow others to fill in the details of how particular claims might work. He has always insisted that philosophers do not speak from a privileged place of knowledge. The best that they can hope for is to articulate a theory that can be convincingly and rigorously tested and debated in the public sphere. We can perhaps understand not only his political theory, but several other theoretical projects in this spirit of a public intellectual putting forth a theory for testing and debate that requires further articulation by those who come after.

Jürgen Habermas currently ranks as one of the most influentialphilosophers in the world. Bridging continental and Anglo-Americantraditions of thought, he has engaged in debates with thinkers asdiverse as Gadamer and Putnam, Foucault and Rawls, Derrida and Brandom.His extensive written work addresses topics stretching fromsocial-political theory to aesthetics, epistemology and language tophilosophy of religion, and his ideas have significantly influenced notonly philosophy but also political-legal thought, sociology,communication studies, argumentation theory and rhetoric, developmentalpsychology and theology. Moreover, he has figured prominently inGermany as a public intellectual, commenting on controversial issues ofthe day in German newspapers such as Die Zeit.

Matthew received his Ph.D. in History from Duke in 2005 and taught at George Mason University until 2008. From 2008-17 he was assistant, and then tenured Associate Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University where he taught modern Germany, the Holocaust, European intellectual history, and human rights history to BA and MA students. In 2014, he was appointed one of five editors at History and Theory, the leading international journal in historical theory. Since 2018 he has been a Lecturer at UC Berkeley, in Political Economy, Global Studies, and History, as well as at Stanford University and Santa Clara University. 041b061a72


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