Theory and practices of the soul

I’ve been reading some Habermas the last few days and am particularly struck by the appendix of Knowledge and Human Interests. The appendix is called “Knowledge and Human Interests: A General Perspective.”

Habermas begins with the purpose of theory. The study of theory is directly connected to action because theory provides action with energy and ethical significance. The Greeks believed that the study of theory, which was the contemplation of the cosmos, brought the external and internal parts of the world together. Contemplating the cosmos allowed one to reproduce the order of the universe internally, within the self. So life itself becomes an expression of theory.

Husserl published “The Crisis of the European Sciences” in 1937 and argued that science was failing because it was ignoring its true theoretical calling. The connection between theory and life practice has been broken.

Thus, although the sciences share the concept of theory with the major traditions of philosophy, they destroy its classical claim. They borrow two elements from the philosophical heritage: the methodological meaning of the theoretical attitude and the basic ontological assumption of a structure of the world independent of the knower. On the other hand, however, they have abandoned the connection of theoria and kosmos, of mimesis and the bios theoretikos that was assumed from Plato through Husserl…The conception of theory as a process of cultivation of the person has become apocryphal.