Stuart Braun

The celebrated German philosopher Juergen Habermas will turn 92 next month, yet he remains firmly in the public eye after accepting, then rejecting, a controversial award from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this past week.

Having decided to accept the Sheikh Zayed Book Award – which would have made him Cultural Personality of the Year 2021 and €225,000 ($271,000) richer – Habermas turned it down on Sunday over concerns about human rights in the Gulf nation.

In the end, Habermas could not compromise his core philosophical principles established over more than seven decades.

Having advocated for the right to asylum during the 2015 migrant crisis, and against right-wing populism and xenophobia in the 2019 European Parliament elections, Habermas remains actively committed to his cosmopolitan ideal of an open and rigorous democracy.

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Picture: “Alexander and Diogenes” by Ivan Tupyliov (1787; source).