Writing Out Loud: Toward a Rational Society

In Toward a Rational Society, the Frankfurt School theorist Jurgen Habermas argues that modern societies are increasingly characterized by a tension between technology and the social life-world. As you read the excerpt, think about how Habermas explains this tension and what he thinks needs to be done to fix the problem. Then, answer the following questions.

Theme: Pathway to Meltdown


  1. For Habermas, what are the key differences between the spheres of technology and the social life-world? Which sphere does he argue is most important for developing a truly rational society and why?
  2. Why is Habermas so critical of the path technical progress has taken in contemporary industrial societies? Is Habermas anti-technology?
  3. Habermas argues against the idea that technology/technical progress on its own can help improve society. Do you agree with his assessment? Support your argument with a concrete example of a major technological advance (such as nuclear power, the printing press, the automobile, the Internet, etc.).
Back To Top