Jürgen Habermas (1929 –)

Jürgen Habermas was born in 1929 in Düsseldorf, Germany. He studied at the universities of Gottingen, Zurich and Bonn, and wrote a doctoral thesis on the philosophy of Schelling. His Habilitationsschrift, or post-doctoral thesis, presented at the University of Marburg, formed the basis of Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. It was initially rejected by the University of Frankfurt, after criticism by the social theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. It was eventually published in German in 1962.

Habermas worked as Adorno’s research assistant at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt (home of the famous “Frankfurt School”). He was a professor at the universities of Heidelberg and Frankfurt, and was director of the Max Planck institute in Starnberg until 1983. After that, he returned to the University of Frankfurt as chair for philosophy and sociology until retiring in 1993, although he continued to do research and publish. In the United States, Habermas has been a visiting professor at Northwestern University and at the New School in New York.

His major works in addition to Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere include Theory and Practice (1963), Knowledge and Human Interests (1968), and Theory of Communicative Action (1981), which is perhaps his best-known work.