Transcendence in Postmetaphysical Thinking. Habermas' God




Habermas, Postmetaphysical Thinking, Transcendence, Ethical truth, Institutionalized Authority


Habermas emphasizes the importance for critical thinking of ideas of truth and moral validity that are at once context-transcending and immanent to human practices. in a recent review, Peter Dews queries his distinction between metaphysically construed transcendence and transcendence from within, asking provocatively in what sense Habermas does not believe in God. I answer that his conception of “God” is resolutely postmetaphysical, a god that is constructed by way of human linguistic practices. I then give three reasons for why it should not be embraced by contemporary critical social theory. First, in the domain of practical reason, this conception of transcendence excludes by fiat any “Other” to communicative reason, blocking possibilities for mutual learning. Second, due to the same exclusion, it risks reproducing an undesirable social order. Third, it is inadequate for the purposes of a critical theory of social institutions. 

Author Biography

Maeve Cooke, University College Dublin

School of Philosophy

Full Professor


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How to Cite

Cooke, Maeve. 2019. “Transcendence in Postmetaphysical Thinking. Habermas’ God”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (4):21-44.



Special Issue - Habermas on Religion