Walter Reese-Schäfer, Karl-Otto Apel, Zur Einführung (with an Afterword by Jürgen Habermas), Junis Verlag GmbH, Hamburg 1990, 176pp. DM 17.80
The author, presently a freelance writer published in the newspaper “Die Zeit” and the magazine “Stern,” provides in this small book a clear and concise introduction to sources, themes and conclusions in the philosophy of Karl-Otto Apel. Apel, Emeritus Professor at Frankfurt, and close colleague of Habermas, characterizes his viewpoint as a “transcendental pragmatism” in which a Kantian concern for question regarding “the conditions for the possibility of something,” (p.10) mixes with deontological discourse-ethics, semeiotic themes from Peirce, an approach to fallibilism, the demand for “final justifications” (Letztbegründung) and German hermeneutics. In view of the “density and concentration” of Apel’s texts, which often have a “deterrent effect” upon those not already at home with “the philosophical language game,” it is the announced aim of this book to provide a work of translation and clarification of Apel’s specialized efforts --in effect an orientation to Apel’s work.
The book divides into an Introduction, 8 chapters and a summary conclusion --with Habermas’ appreciation, “A Master Builder with Hermeneutic Feeling --The Way of Philosopher Karl-Otto Apel,” bringing up the rear. There is also a bibliography of primary and secondary sources and a short table outlining highlights of Apel’s career. The “Introduction” provides a good overview of the aims of the book and gets one started on central themes.