A Psychoanalytic Critique of Jürgen Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action
von Sternberg, Parker
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This paper takes on three major sections: first, an explication of the theories of Habermas and Lacan, independent of one another. Second, we move to a critical analysis of both, wherein the particulars of the critique are laid out explicitly. Across this entire paper, it is important to keep in mind that both Lacan and Habermas conceive of their theoretical projects as only existent within actual dialogue, they understand themselves as laying out competencies that are engaged via everyday speech. For both, the carrying out of speech acts within an intersubjective setting is necessary for any attempt to engage with the concepts they layout. As such, it seems ideal to present two idealized speech communities, each a representation of the praxis of these two thinkers. These will be explained as the Habermasian Community, or HC, and the Lacanian Community, LC, in their respective sections. Both of these groups are self constituting: that is, they emerge via a process of demarcating a particular mode of language use which characterizes participating in this group as opposed to engaging in everyday conversation. The most basic form of this is the formalization of rules of discourse that are distinct from those of everyday speech. For Habermas, we will see that this formalization is oriented towards relations of equality, and more importantly, reciprocity. Lacan will argue that our engagement with language is such that what must be taken as primary is not any particular set of rules, but . rather the way in which we engage with language, and the response we find our actions engender. To continue making use of source material, in the comparative analysis we turn to the David Mamet film, Oleanna in order to better explicate these theoretical investigations, as the interactions between John and Carol in this movie will allow for a straightforward explication of the interface between these two thinkers.