This is why we need discourse according to Habermas
I haven't been blogging much lately, because I was writing my first draft of the chapter about Habermas' theory. My mentor told me to ask a question to Habermas that can be answered with his theory of communicative action. The question I asked: what is actually (good) communication? With that in mind I was able to take the two volumes of The theory of communicative action in my hand and look for interesting passages. A task that takes pretty much time and I'm glad I've got the English translation of his work. Reading in very formal German is just a bit over the top for me.
The general outline of the answer to what communication is, goes as follows:
We communicate to reach understanding. There are different types of action: intrumental action, strategic action and communicative action. Only the latter is a type of action which is oriented to reaching understanding.
Reaching understanding is a way of searching for true knowledge. Knowledge is bound between subjects according to Habermas and therefore true knowledge is time and situation bound. When people feel the need that certain validityclaims are not acceptable anymore (thus want to redefine true knowledge), they can switch to a higher level of communication: discourse. Discourse can be seen as a discussion that must meet up to certain conditions. Those conditions together are called an ideal speech situation which can be seen as 'good' communication (see also my earlier entry on Habermas).
What I'm going to investigate is whether weblogs meet up to these conditions of an ideal speech situation. Second, it's not for sure whether weblogging can be seen as a type of discourse. Habermas makes a distinction between discourse and different types of communicative action, the latter including conversation. Maybe blogging doesn't exceed the level of communicative action. But maybe the potential of this communication medium is bigger than it is used at the moment. I'm not sure what the outcome will be.
Maybe this entry raised more questions for you, but I hope to have made some things a little bit more clear.