Title

Habermas, Nietzsche, and West: Critiquing and Complementing Notions of Social Democracy Via Existential Ethics and Aesthetics

Publication Date

3-1-2003

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication

Department

Communication

Major Advisor

Ed McLuskie

Advisor

Ben Parker

Advisor

Warren Harbison

Abstract

It seems to me more and more that the philosopher, as a necessary man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, has always found himself, and always had to find himself, in opposition to his today: the ideal of the day was always his enemy. Hitherto all these extraordinary promoters of man, who are called philosophers, and who rarely have felt themselves to be friends of wisdom, but rather disagreeable fools and dangerous question marks, have found their task, their hard, unwanted, inescapable task, but finally also the greatness of their task, in being the bad conscience of their time. (444)

--- Friedrich Nietzsche from Beyond Good and Evil

It is my contention that a communication point of view that attempts to articulate democracy must proceed in the mode of an existential analysis that combines reason with passion, style and art with articulation, and power with psychological integrity. As a result, it is my intention to highlight voices that articulate democratic ideas as well as existential ideas in order to show the need to bring existential concerns into the social discussion and, therefore, a communication context. Themes arise within this discussion that serve to highlight tensions found between these discussions that emphasize either the social or the individual. In the course of the discussion, I will more closely align with the existential emphasis on the individual as a way to not only complement a social and communicative idea of democracy, but to highlight the importance of founding this discussion on the premise of the individual. Hence, I will begin with Habermas' idea of the social as founded upon communicative interaction, the significance of rationality, and, thus, culminating into an idea of the ideal communication community. Next, I will discuss Nietzsche's view of the individual and the development of character or style, as well as the notion of frenzy. Finally, I will show the importance of Nietzschean themes, specifically the significance of the locus of the body and the purpose of an artistic focus, in relation to democracy with Cornel West.

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