Recognition Across French-German Divides: The Social Fabric of Freedom in French Theory

Critical Horizons 22 (1):5-28 (2021)
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ABSTRACT In his recent book, Recognition: A Chapter in the History of European ideas, Honneth has explained how he understands the French concept of recognition. This article places Honneth's latest interpretation in the context of his long-standing and evolving engagement with French theory over several decades. Honneth acknowledges his significant debt to a French tendency to view recognition as a problem for self-realisation. Bourdieu's and Boltanski's account of how ambitions become limited by the availability of capital and the internalisation of class was a major breakthrough in Honneth's intellectual development. Other formative French influences included the articulation of denigration in existentialist phenomenology, and the idea of regulative power in Foucault, with “deconstructive” asymmetrical care presented as productive but comparatively less important. The discussion also reveals why Honneth presents the “German” concept of recognition as having basic explanatory force, and why he resists what he views as a French-influenced tendency to depict recognition as ambivalent. The discussion reveals, on one hand, how working across perceived divides can be immensely productive, and, on the other hand, why a French-German divide remains entrenched in contemporary thinking.



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Author Profiles

Axel Honneth
Columbia University
Miriam Bankovsky
La Trobe University

References found in this work

Recognition as Ideology.Axel Honneth - 2007 - In Bert van den Brink & David Owen (eds.), Recognition and Power: Axel Honneth and the Tradition of Critical Social Theory. Cambridge University Press. pp. 323--347.
Paradoxes of Capitalism.Martin Hartmann & Axel Honneth - 2006 - Constellations 13 (1):41-58.

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