In trying to define the lifeworld of human activities, Habermas has developed a mode of interpretation which can be called the best variety of critical theory to date. To understand Habermas, we must observe how he comes to terms with his rival Hans-Georg Gadamer. Gadamer’s Truth and Method challenges the very premises of the Enlightenment and its legacy of fragmentary presentations of artificial systems of rationality. In a rather urbane manner, Habermas calls Gadamer conservative because the latter rehabilitates authority and tradition while claiming that authentic authority does not have to impose itself in an authoritarian way. Gadamer describes the recognition of authority as an invariant element of historical understanding, and one which is compatible with freedom. For the recognition of authority is essential to any understanding which, not certain of itself in a solipsistic way, is dependent on the tradition of language. Tradition poses a voluntary language which is attributable to the finite nature of understanding. It occurs in politically naive forms and whenever we claim that a text of the historical past says something to us which we could not have learned in our contemporary environment or found on our own initiative. It happens as well whenever we find that we cannot conceive of ourselves without reference to a given order of social life (such as the state or the family), in spite of all its shortcomings. This is so because the recognition of such an order is usually linked to tradition and to the obeisance to those wielding authority.