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On the communicative dimension of social practice

Thomas A. McCarthy

pp. 463-482

In the book from which my epigraph is taken, Marx Wartofsky focuses his attention on the role of representation in "cognitive praxis."1 He is quite clear, however, that there are other aspects to the indissoluble link between logos and praxis: "[Karl] Marx's striking aphorism, "Language is practical consciousness," requires the elaboration that it is also social consciousness, that is, the medium of communication and expression in the contexts of social interaction . . ."2 In this paper I offer some observations on the social-interactional aspect of the connection between reason and practice. Like Wartofsky, I attempt to capture the contextual and pragmatic features of social practice without renouncing the universal and ideal import of the claims of reason. To capture the former, I exploit some recent contributions to the sociology of everyday life by Harold Garfinkel and other ethnomethodologists;3 to capture the latter, I draw upon Jürgen Habermas's analysis of communicative reason.4 The challenge, of course, will be to integrate these two very different and often opposed approaches into one coherent account of reason in practice. The question of how my account of communicative praxis might be integrated with Wartofsky's account of cognitive praxis will have to be left to another occasion.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-011-0902-4_27

Full citation:

McCarthy, T. A. (1994)., On the communicative dimension of social practice, in C. C. Gould & R. S. Cohen (eds.), Artifacts, representations and social practice, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 463-482.

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