The issues of National and Post-national Identity have featured in most political and philosophical writing, especially of the 20th century. In this regard, there are many political and social issues that have been addressed by different theories that were formulated by different political scientists and sociologists. In this regard, most researchers who are researchers and scholars have approached this issue from different perspectives, especially based on the background in schooling and generally, the learning environment. Jürgen Habermas’ ‘Identidades nacionales y post-nacionales’ a journal with a collection of essays, four to be specific, on different themes in the political and philosophical world. This work is mainly based on the critic of Habermas in which he examines the thoughts of the authors of the essays from the German perspective. As a result of this, the work is mainly composed of the words of Habermas as he compared the thoughts of these writers, to situations at the time of the writing and what was happening at the time he wrote this journal.
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The first section of this journal begins with a summary of that was done by Redondo Jiménez Manuel that acts as the first signpost into the journal. In this regard, Manuel provides the reader with a clue that the journal is composed of essays from other writers that are critically evaluated by Habermas. The journal then gets into the real subject under which the writer, Habermas provides an overview of what these writers wrote and critically evaluates them against their time and the current times. The main points that come into view in the four sections of this journal include the fact that irrespective of his political inclination, Heidegger made significant contribution to the logical-philosophical world and therefore, his work should not be watered on.
The second section of this journal focuses on politics, political strategies and the enemies that arise along the way in any successful political environment. In particular, Habermas affirms the words of Carl Schmitt that states that there are enemies who have always created resistance. In this case, the so called the modern state amasses power only to repress revolutionary resistance. The third part on the other hand discusses the subject of identity and belonging of different nations in Europe. Finally, the Habermas concludes by examining post-national identity in the contemporary world. It is important to understand that the work of Habermas in this case is guided or rather based on the work that had been done by other authors. Therefore, his work in this case is skewed more towards being critical, where he criticizes these authors based on the information he had at the time of writing this journal.
There are various points that have been raised in each section of the journal. Before delving into the actual content of the author, the beginning of this journal raises several issues that cannot be ignored. To begin with, the first section of this journal comprises of a defense that is developed by Habermas to protect his choice of Heidegger’s work. In this regard, Habermas defends Heidegger on several occasions, arguing that an author or a writer’s work should not be discredited on the basis of his political background. In his defense of Heidegger’s work, Habermas reiterates that the influence of an author’s work should be considered more than his political affiliation. Just to mention, Habermas argues from a philosophical point of view that there is need to separate the physical and the intellectual in any judgment that is passed over a person’s morality in the intellectual world. In reality, the use of Heidegger’s work by Habermas is highly defended in this journal, not just once but on numerous occasions. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on the influence that his work has on the contemporary world, with a careful choice of words and themes that were exemplified in his work.
The position that is taken by Habermas in regard to defending Heidegger is valid. Notable, as an author, you cannot use any other author’s work when such work is not acceptable in the literally work. Therefore, whereas Habermas found the work of Heidegger useful in his philosophical and political research, he had to validate this work before presenting it to people. In the same line of thought, Habermas mentions different incidences and issues that Heidegger was facing during his time that could have prompted him to take such a position. On the contrary, Habermas evades being categorized with Heidegger by arguing that he was young at the time Heidegger produced his work and he could not have dictated his behavior (Habermas 2007).
The issue of State and State enemies is well elucidated in the book. Under this section of the book, Habermas argues that state power is an important factor that gives ability to the state to repress revolutionary resistance. In line with this, it is important to understand that the time when this essay was being written, different state or rather nations across the globe were facing numerous challenges that emanated from the citizens who demanded to be recognized in different ways by being accorded their rights. Therefore, revolutionary movement was the order of the day as citizens expressed their dissatisfaction with the existing political and social structures at that time.
Habermas has also identified different factors that united the Germans and Europe in general in his work. Arguably, Western Europeans not only draw on the heritage of European history, but from the way they State democracy and Western forms of life (Habermas 2007). However, whereas this was the case, Germany was only identified as a country that belonged to Western Europe only after the Second World War. From the broader perspective, the world which claimed to be civilized closed its eyes to mass murder that occurred in Germany as a result of the fact that Germany at the time did not identify with them. In fact, Germany was termed as backward and anti-civilized, which led to seclusion from the rest of Europe and therefore, when incidences of mass murder or rather genocide were orchestrated in this nation, no one bothered to examine what was happening. To be specific, the philosophical thoughts that are embraced by a certain group of people in the society are critical to creation of identities in such a group, whereby when one fails to embrace such thoughts, he or she is automatically excluded from the group.
The subject of postnational identity is also well tackled by the author. In view of that, postnational identity refers to the State constitutional only able to develop and stabilize the context of broader trends, reaching more beyond the Federal Republic (Habermas 2007). In this regard, contention between and among nations is a factor that is considered. As a result, there are some nations that have developed weapons, which according to Habermas are directed at their neighbors without necessarily imagining what would happen if the reverse was true, that is, if these weapons were directed at such nations. Boundary and borders issues are also a factor that is considered with a note on the fact that most of the European countries are currently engulfed in the European Union.
As is epitomized by Habermas (2007), an understanding of these factors is important to the overall grasping of the idea of postnational identity. In other words, more European countries are predisposed towards a common goal and understanding leading to erasing of boundaries as well as loss of national identity. The serious political case is defined by the phenomenon of the struggle in the defining of identity against the otherness of an enemy that threatens the very existence, the situation war involving an entire people and the situation of civil war (Habermas 2007).
On the other hand, there are a few issues that are not very clearly in the book. In the section that covers the work of Heidegger, Habermas (2007) is more concerned with the credibility of the author rather than simply focusing on his work and leaving the rest to the audience to judge. In this respect, he repeats severally that the credibility of an author should not be watered down as a result of his political ideologies and affiliation. Particularly, in trying to defend Heidegger, Habermas is seen as having a defensive perception towards the mistakes that were made in the lifetime of this author. Such issues have been found to reduce the weight of the issue that the author is trying to pass across to the audience.
The use of words is also an issue to the author. Taking into account that this is a historical writing more than philosophical, the use of philosophical words and phrases have a tendency of complicating the subject of discussion. Therefore, the lexical concept that is utilized in this book directly eliminates people who have no background knowledge of the issues that are being discussed by the author. In addition, though it is mentioned by the author, looking at the issues that were from a Germany perspective directly imposed a limit on what could be covered by the author. Similarly, these issues not only affected Germany but also other nations in Europe. Therefore, from the author’s perspective, this was a narrowed way of looking at important issues in the political, philosophical and social world. Nevertheless, this is not a big concern in this case since the author mentions it early in advance at the beginning of his work.
The journal is well arranged that makes it possible for the audience to follow through. Additionally, the author is well versed with historical and philosophical issues and thus presents a well written critical outlook on the issues that had been identified and mentioned by these authors. Remarkably, ideas in this journal are arranged in a chronological way, with headings being used as the signposts to mark the moving on from one point to another. This is irrespective of the fact that subheadings are underutilized in the journal. On the other hand, the book is well researched on historical facts and philosophical thoughts and captures well the mind of the audiences. However, this does not factor in the first part of the books that circumvents the main issues and instead focuses on the credibility of the author more than the content itself.
This book is recommended for people who have an advanced understanding of the subject. Whereas the words are well arranged, their meaning or rather the meaning of the phrases that are used requires a more complicated understanding of the topic, with critical thinking being the major issue of focus. Following this point, the book can only be recommended to an audience with background information on the issues that are discussed in this book. In addition, it can be understood more when read with other backing materials rather than on its own for one to gain a deeper understanding of what is being talked about in the book.
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