Jürgen Habermas: The “Unfinished” European Project and the Claim of Solidarity

    • EUPE_BRUGES_2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Alessandro Volpe, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy


    This paper highlights the relationship between Habermas’ account of Modernity and his stance on the European Union. The aim is to show how, in his terms, the continental integration may be read as the political translation of the Enlightment’s “unfinished project”. In Habermas’ writings of 90s, the need of political integration is found in the opposition between systemic and social integration, parallel to that between instrumental and communicative reason, which characterises the Modernity. Further, his model of European democracy intends to “redeem” the normative core of the old Nation states, by transferring it into a transnational context and by rejecting the Postmodern diagnosis in which the ideas of sovereignty and democratic “self-transformation” should be overcome. Moreover, the focus is on the German philosopher’s reflection on the European identity, sketched in his writings of the early 2000s, conceived more as a set of social and empirical behaviors associated to reflexivity, rather than a fixed and meta-historical cultural root. In this regard, the European unity should be a space where cultures and different identities, through the juridical medium and the permanent activism of civil society, coexist and recognize each other. This spiritual character, according to Habermas, should inspire also a universalistic approach in the European foreign policy. Finally, the paper highlights the concept of solidarity in Habermas’ most recent writings (2013-2015) on the European crisis, meant as a key-factor in order to solve it. The idea of political and civic solidarity, heir of the republican notion of fraternité, may fit into a transnational context such as Europe, because it specifically concerns stranger citizens in terms of morality and identity. Indeed, the only bond that entails acts of solidarity between nations, groups and individuals is the political cooperation itself.