If there is any small remnant of utopia that I’ve preserved, then it is surely the idea that democracy – and its public struggle for its best form – is capable of hacking through the Gordian knots of otherwise insoluble problems. I’m not saying we’re going to succeed in this; we don’t even know whether success is possible. But because we don’t know we still have to try. (The Past as Future 97)

When we contemplate the abivalence of the German-Jewish intellectual history, we can perceive the unique opportunity which a crass irony of history had given to the last generation of Jewish intellectuals, once the Nazis and their intellectual retinue had succeeded in poisoning or obscuring even our best traditions. We...were able to acquire a distinctive perspective from our teachers who now retuned from emigration. Helmut Plessner once defined this perspective in the words, without estrangement, no understanding. What it amounts to is that those who had long been part of German culture, without ever really belonging to it, taught us how to identify with our own, German traditions, and yet while standing within them, to keep a certain distance from them, which enabled us to continue them in a self-critical spirit, with the scepticism and clear-sightedness of the person who has already once been fooled. 'Ideologies and Society in the Post War World' (1977) Autonomy and Solidarity p.46

Gordon Finlayson's Habermas Page.


This Page contains a collection of some of my work on Juergen Habermas, the German Social and Political Philosopher and cultural critic.































I normally publish under my full name, James Gordon Finlayson, but am called by my second name, Gordon, which can cause confusion. If you find an article on Habermas by Gordon Finlayson, it's probably by me.


Below are shortened or early versions of some of my published work - articles and chapters -

on Habermas's philosophy. You can find the references to the final and full published versions on my homepage.

I have made these available, because I have found that, publishing in philosophy journals

is a bit like putting messages in a bottle. I almost never get any responses to them.

If you want to offer constructive criticism of, or have questions about my work, mail these to

gordon@sokol.eclipse.co.uk I will do my best to respond.


  1. Habermas’s Moral Cognitivism 2005
  2. Theory of Ideology and the Ideology of Theory: Habermas contra Adorno 2003
  3. Modernity and Morality in Habermas’s Discourse Ethics 2000
  4. What are Universalizable Interests? 2000
  5. Does Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Moral Theory apply to Habermas’s Discourse Ethics? 1999
  6. Review of Logi Gunnarson, ‘Making Moral Sense: Beyond Habermas and Gauthier’ 2002



Message for Prospective Students

If you are a student and interested in the Frankfurt School, Adorno, Habermas, and critical theory, you should consider

applying to the Sussex University. Its an intellectually stimulating place. Brighton is a wonderful city in which to live and work.

Apart from me, William Outhwaite (Sociology), Darrow Schechter (History), Daniel Steuer (German), Andrew Chitty (Philosophy) and

various others all work on these areas from within different disciplines. If you have some training in philosophy, apply to do

the M.A. or D. Phil. in philosophy. There is a lot of interesting work going on in the department. Check out the Philosophy

Department Homepage or email the admissions tutor A.E.Chitty@sussex.ac.uk . If you are by training more interested in

intellectual history sociology or cultural studies consider the Social and Political Thought Programme.