The Bounds of Reason
Habermas, Lyotard and Melanie Klein on Rationality
Routledge – 1999 – 140 pages
The Bounds of Reason: Habermas, Lyotard & Melanie Klein on Rationality is a highly original yet accessible study of the debate between modernity and postmodernity. Emilia Steuerman clearly explains the modernity/postmodernity dispute by examining the problem that has driven the whole debate: whether the use of reason is an emancipatory or enslaving force.
Steuerman clearly sets out this debate by critically examining the arguments of two of its key proponents, Jurgen Habermas and Jean-François Lyotard. She clearly explains Habermas' defence of modernity and his attempt to salvage Enlightenment ideas of truth, justice, and freedom through the use of reason. She contrasts this with Lyotard's postmodernism and his scepticism about the use of reason, and its claims to universalism and objectivity. Throughout, Steuerman contrasts the Habermas-Lyotard debate with important insights from psychoanalytic theory, and shows how Habermas' notions of intersubjectivity and a community of shared language users can be compared and contrasted with Melanie Klein's theory of object relations.