Mimesis and Reason

Habermas's Political Philosophy

By Gregg Daniel Miller

Subjects: Political Theory, Aesthetics, Continental Philosophy, Philosophy Of The Social Sciences
Paperback : 9781438437408, 199 pages, July 2012
Hardcover : 9781438437392, 199 pages, September 2011

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Table of contents

1. Reason and Mimesis
I. The Postmetaphysical Condition of Reason
II. Mimesis
III. Mimesis Against Disenchantment
IV. Mimesis as Re-Enchantment?
V. Toward a Reconstruction of Communicative Action
2. Mimesis in Communicative Action: Habermas and Plato
I. Modernity and its Anti-Mimetic Cogito
II. Divine Mimesis
III. Prosaic Mimesis
IV. Poetic Mimesis
V. The Manner of Mimesis
VI. The Grammar of Mimesis
VII. Toward the Affective Bond of Understanding
3. The Subject in Communicative Action: Habermas and George Herbert Mead
I. Two Phases of the Self: I and Me
II. The Individuated  Self
III. From Play to Game
IV. From Image to Symbol
V. I the Artist
VI. Mead’s Anti-mimesis
VII. Habermas’ Intersubjective Ego
4. The Experience of Mimesis: Habermas and Walter Benjamin
I. Weberian Pneuma
II. Experience
III. Lament for Experience (Erfahrung) Lost
IV. Shock and Wisdom in Postauratic Experience
V. Postauratic Experience as Mimesis in Language
VI. Habermas’s Benjaminian Experience
VII. Conclusions
Coda: Habermas and the Affective Bond of Understanding

Excavates the experiential structure of Habermas’s communicative action.


Complicating the standard interpretation of Habermas as a proceduralist, Mimesis and Reason uncovers the role that mimesis, or imitation, plays as a genuinely political force in communicative action. Through a penetrating examination of Habermas's use of themes and concepts from Plato, George Herbert Mead, and Walter Benjamin, Gregg Daniel Miller reconstructs Habermas's theory to reveal a new, postmetaphysical articulation of reason that lays the groundwork for new directions in political theory.

Gregg Daniel Miller is Lecturer at the University of Washington.


"This reconstruction of Habermas is sure to be met with hostility and will inevitably boil the blood of any card-carrying Habermasian … the book is a highly original addition to the growing body of literature that recognises the brilliance of Habermas, yet seeks to move past perceived problems or tensions within aspects of his thought … This book should enliven debate concerning the future of critical theory, and more specifically its relationship with aesthetic theory." — Political Studies Review

"Moving beyond the impasse of mimesis versus communicative rationality, an alternative that pitted Adorno against Habermas, Gregg Daniel Miller opens up a new vista in the continuing effort to develop a viable Critical Theory for the twenty-first century. Drawing on the insights of Mead and Benjamin, he imaginatively and persuasively establishes a point d'appui for rational critique that extends well beyond wan proceduralism without regressing to a discredited metaphysics. The result is a remarkable first book, which is less about the past of Critical Theory than its future." — Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley