Karl-Otto Apel

Karl Otto Apel was born in Düsseldorf in 1922 and died in Taunus on May 15 2017. He was a professor at the universities of Kiel, Saarbrücken and Frankfurt am Main and he worked on issues of language and linguistic communication. Agreeing with Habermas, Apel thought that the foundations of a community of communication could be established which, while still maintaining the need for hermeneuthics, could be adjusted to some principles of critical rationalism. Apel believed, against Kant, that the a priori of the deep structure of reason is neither the possibility of knowledge nor the universality of science, but language.

Apel called it the ‘a priori of the communication community’ which, on the one hand, makes possible a real communication that does not exclude conceptual schemes in the ideal communication and, on the other hand, ensures the inter validity of knowledge allowing for the foundation of ethics.



November 6th to 17th, 1995


  1. Introduction: Transcendental  Semiotics and the Paradigms of First Philosophy
  2. First  Illustration of the Three Main Paradigms of First Philosophy: Truth Theories
  3. Second Illustration of the Three Main Paradigms of First Philosophy: the Relationship of Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
  4. The Transition from the Second to the Third Paradigm in the 20th century. First Part: from (pre-semiotic) Phenomenology to Hermeneutics
  5. Second Part: Analytical Philosophy from Logical Semantics to Pragmatics of Ordinary Language
  6. Comparison of the Hermeneutic and the  Linguistic-Pragmatic Turn (Heidegger/Gadamer and Wittgenstein) from the Point of View of Transcendental Semiotics or, respectively, Transcendental Pragmatics of Language
  7. The Debate about Transcendental Arguments and the Transcendental Pragmatic Way of Ultimate Foundation of Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
  8. The Foundation of Discourse Ethics
  9. Discourse Ethics as History-related Macro-Ethics     of Responsibility:  Part A and Part B of Discourse Ethics
  10. Implementation of Discourse Ethics through Institutions, or, respectively, Social Systems: specially Law, Economy and Politics 


Click here to download the programme in pdf.

Invited specialists

By indication of Prof. Apel, the below mentioned were also invited to participate: D. Bohler (Berlin), A. Cortina (Valencia) and W. Kuhlmann (Aachen). 


  • Wie sieht hermeneutisches Verstehen aus (W. Kuhlmann)
  • Diskursethik. Das Problem der Inhalte (W. Kuhlmann)
  • Aplicación de la ética del discurso a la política y la sociedad civil (Adela Cortina)


The lessons of Prof. Apel were published under the title Filosofia primera, avui i ètica del discurs, in Eumo, Vic, in 2001.