The author presents the essence and ancient origin of the controversy between the idealistic and normative principles of philosphy and utilitarian attitude of democracy. This opposition is universal and can be seen on many levels in education (both in schools and universities), ethics, politics, and relations between technology and axiology. The conflict arose in the period of the Athenian democracy. According to Plato the democratic constitution is totally opposed to truth, values and knowledge, because it is based on opinions (doxai). The spirit of democracy is reflected in the relativistic and pragmatic art of persuasion, taught by the sophists and contrary to rational philosophical analysis leading to cognition of good and evil. Plato and sophists gave rise to the opposition to the theory and praxis, emphasized by the classical philosophy. The fundamental aspect of that opposition is the contrast beween a philosophical theoretical model of a constitution and the requirements imposed by political and legal realities. The communication contains the general comparison of several philosopher's views on that subject. Among others, the author discusses the opinions of Burke, Montesquieu, Mill, Tocqueville, Nietzsche, and the contemporary liberals and postmodernistic pragmaticists who are convinced that democracy needs no philosophical justfication because all systems and paradigms created by moral and rationalistic thinking are 'irrerelevant' (Rorty) in regard to democracy. Life in democracy will be always the meeting point of various incompatible, and often contrary, normative ideas. Habermas, on the other hand, sees the task of philosophy, adjusted to the requirements of our times, in investigatig acts that produce agreement, cooperation, influence and dialogue, and not in creating epistemological, methaphilosophical and axiological systems that would serve as the basis for politics.
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