Keywords: Public Opinion; Public Sphere; Enlightenment; Rationality; Politicization.
In his dissertation, "Kritik und Krise", Reinhart Koselleck thematizes the origin of the "Public Opinion" tracing it back to the conflict between state and civil society. The struggle of the Enlightenment against the state brings about the extension of the moral critique from the individual consciousness to the public sphere. In this way the Public Opinion assumes a political role and becomes a weapon for the Enlightenment's critique. Few years later Jürgen Habermas proposes a theory of the genesis of the public sphere in which he argues that the critique of Enlightenment is politically legitimate, because it is rational; though he recognizes, like Koselleck, the politicization of the public sphere. The aim of this essay is to reconstruct these two positions by bringing out their common elements as well as their different points of view on the historical role of the public opinion: instrument of a particularistic struggle and, therefore, unable to exhibit elements of concrete universality in the judgment of Koselleck; phenomenon of the modern rationalization on Habermas' account.