Pathologies of recognition

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (8):851-887 (2011)
Abstract
Recognition is not only a response to social pathologies. It is also an unstable and often ambivalent relationship that has its own pathologies. Owing to the intertwining between recognition and power, certain forms of recognition turn out to be forms of alienation in or from the world. Such pathologies affect inter-individual recognition as well as the recognition between individuals and the socio-political institutions. The article proposes a joint reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Philosophy of Right, which provide norms for identifying and dealing with these pathologies. The norm for inter-individual recognition is set out in the Phenomenology of Spirit, the norm for state/citizen recognition in the Philosophy of Right. The analysis envisages two other aspects of recognition: the interference of the ‘I–Me’ with the ‘I–You’ relationship and the incorporation of the ‘I–We’ into the ‘We–Us' dimension of recognition. As regards the interpretation of Hegel’s practical philosophy, the article analyses the link between Hegel’s concept of recognition and his theory of action. In this view, the highest form of recognition has more to do with reconciliation – reconciliation between human beings, reconciliation with the ‘finitude of action’ – than with the problematic of individual and collective identity
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