How Can One Create Her Own Public Space?June 27, 2021
According to the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, modern society is subject not only to technological advances but also to our ability to collectively criticize and rationalize our own traditions.
Habermas says that the mind is at the heart of everyday communication. Someone says or does something and we’re like, “Why did you do that?” or “Why did you say that?” we say. We are constantly looking for reasons, which is why Habermas speaks of the ‘communicative’ mind. For him, reason is not only about discovering abstract truths, but also about our need to justify ourselves against others.
Habermas concluded in the 1960s and 1970s that there was a link between the communicative mind and what he called the “public sphere.” He says that until the 18th century, European “Culture was “representational” in the broad sense, that is, the ruling classes “represented” themselves to their subjects through impressive ceremonies or displays of power that required no justification, such as huge architectural projects. A number of public places had emerged outside the control of the state. These were places where people gathered to chat and discuss various topics. This growth in the public sphere brought with it the opportunity to question the representative state cultural authority. The public space was the private space of our close friends and family and the spaces under state control. became a buffer zone and a “third space” between
By creating a public space, we also increase our common interests with other individuals—opportunities to recognize interests that the state cannot meet. This leads to questioning the actions of the state. Habermas also believes that the growth of the public sphere helped trigger the French Revolution of 1789. The gradual growth of the public sphere since the 18th century has also led to an increase in democratically elected political institutions, independent courts, and human rights laws. But Habermas believes that these brakes on the arbitrary use of power are now under threat. Newspapers, for example, allow for the publication of sensible dialogues between individual individuals, but these possibilities may diminish as the press becomes dominated by large corporations. Contextual intellectual debates are replaced by gossip with celebrities, and we turn from critical, rational agents to mindless consumers.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook