Sadly, I could not comment on this article via the NYT website because I read it too late. Thank goodness for blogs though!
Reading through reader's responses to Habermas' arguments, it appears that a wide variety of readers would argue against Habermas' proposition that reason alone does not give adequate substance for motivations and goals.
I would merely like to remark that I believe Habermas is speaking from a larger, societal based ideal of goals and motivations, and that on a whole the readership's response has been from a merely personal perspective.
There is no greater uniter of human drive than religion and faith. Reason alone can rarely drive us to unite to a single cause. The idea that each of us having individual motivation and goals derived from reason is not invalid, however it has been demonstrated that the leap from the individual to the collective is very vast and difficult. Especially in an environment (aka the US current sociopolitical discourse) where tolerance and political correctness and apparent equity remain as the reigning modus operandi. In such an 'environment' (or culture, I suppose) to accept a single goal or motivation for an entire population would require the acknowledgement of possible negation of others' goals: something that would not be acceptable. Even if every single member in the 'room', so to speak, were to privately be motivated by, for example, the desire to fully understand other people, the reluctance of individuals to impose a personal thought or belief onto the common 'tolerant' understanding would keep these individuals from revealing or attempting to persuade the collective of the rationality or validity of their position. Even if admitted and agreed upon in corners of the room, the prevailing mindset would prevent anyone from putting forth such a 'radical' idea. Minorities have a way of silencing themselves.
I'm not explaining this as well as my communication text book does. The point is that Habermas' conclusion that reason lacks the ability to unite nations of people under collective goals and motivations is valid. Reader comments to the contrary merely demonstrate that you cannot necessarily refute generalized generalizations from personal experience alone.
Rationalists - 1; Empiricists - 0
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