In Capitalism, Alienation and Critique Asger Sørensen offers a wide-ranging argument for the classical Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, thus endorsing the dialectical approach of the original founders (Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse) and criticizing suggested revisions of later generations (Habermas, Honneth). Being situated within the horizon of the late 20th century Cultural Marxism, the main issue is the critique of capitalism, emphasizing experiences of injustice, ideology and alienation, and in particular exploring two fundamental subject matters within this horizon, namely (...) economy and dialectics. Apart from in-depth discussions of classical political economy and Hegelian dialectics, the explorative and inclusive argument also takes issues with Émile Durkheim’s theory of value, the general economy of Georges Bataille and the dialectics of Mao Zedong. -/- - See below link to the book's homepage at the publisher Brill. - See also link to a Youtubevideo from a seminar on the book in Belgrade, November 2019. (shrink)
This paper presents three interconnected examinations of Asger S?rensen?s arguments in Capitalism, Alienation and Critique, which thematize S?rensen?s overarching understanding of the relationship between theory and practice: his general methodological perspective on critical theory, its distinctive epistemology and its anchoring in the empirical world. The paper authors each try to push S?rensen on these crucial points by considering how S?rensen?s variant of critical theory actually operates, scrutinizing in more detail the particular relationship between the?experience of injustice?, which for S?rensen (...) constitutes the empirical foothold for critical theory, and the theoretical diagnosis of social reality which the critical theorist should formulate against the backdrop of this experience. (shrink)
This article analyses the general economy of Georges Bataille (1897–1962) in relation to political economy. In the first section I present a critical perspective on economy that is necessary in order to appreciate Bataille’s conception of general economy, which is presented in the second section. The general economy is first considered in a macro-perspective, which comprises the whole of the universe, second in a micro-perspective, where the subjective aspect of economy is maintained as non-objectified desire and inner experience. In the (...) third section I turn to the general economy as it was explicitly intended, namely as a political economy. First I argue that the suggestions that Bataille himself presents are apolitical in an ordinary sense of politics, and that this can be shown to be due to some conceptual slides between nature and society and between history and ontology. I then sketch some postmodern attempts to legitimize respectively capitalism and communism, which refer to the general economy, but argue finally that Bataille can escape both, since he maintains the important distinction between need and desire. Although Bataille’s conception of economy thus reminds us of aspects often overlooked by economy in an ordinary sense, it also contains some serious aporias, which means that it cannot constitute the theoretical basis of a new general political economy, as Bataille had hoped. (shrink)
Today the idea of cosmopolitanism has become widely accepted as an appropriate answer to what we now call globalization. A key reference is Kant who argues for a Recht of the world citizen, and this is normally understood as a cosmopolitan law. Apparently Kant lets the law of the world citizen be limited to a right to visit, but somehow his peace project must imply something more than just this very modest claim. Following a hint from Kant himself I take (...) a closer look at the material aspect of cosmopolitanism, i.e. the economy of travelling, and it appears that cosmopolitanism can function as an ideology for letting possible investors look for business cases, that is, for promising places for capitalist exploitation. As an answer to such strong material processes cosmopolitanism is insufficient, both as a moral imperative and as a stipulated right. What we need is a more comprehensive political and legal perspective and the solutions this indicates. To get inspiration for this, however, we can turn to Kant again, since it turns out that he does not argue for cosmopolitanism at all, neither as a programme nor as an ideology. For Kant the overall goal is perpetual peace, and the law of the world citizen represents only one subordinate element. As an answer to globalization we should thus drop the limited ideal of cosmopolitanism and follow Kant in his ambition of a threefold political constitution comprising state law, law of the people and law of the world citizen. (shrink)
The dialectical aspect in the work of Georges Bataille is often neglected. At the suggestion of Foucault and Derrida, Bataille is most often even taken to be a non-dialectical thinker. But Bataille worked intensely with Hegel's ideas, his thought was expressed in Hegelian terms, and both his epistemology and his ontology can be considered a determinate negation of Hegel's position in the Phenomenology. This is shown, first, by analysing Bataille's notions of `inner experience', and, second, by showing how Bataille extends (...) dialectics to the natural, non-human realm, and even conceives the link between the human and non-human as itself dialectical. However, once we see the dialectical nature of his theoretical stance, we are struck by a great vagueness in his practical conception of where society ought to be going. (shrink)
Value is a basic concept in economics, ethics and sociology. Locke made labour the source of value, whereas Smith referred to an ideal exchange and Kant specified that commodities only have a market price, no intrinsic value. One can distinguish two modern concepts of value, an economic one trying to explain value in terms of utility, interest or preferences, and an ideal one considering values as ends in themselves. On this basis, Durkheim constructed his theory of value, which was developed (...) by his followers Mauss and Bouglé and further by Bataille. Their line of thought makes it possible to develop a conceptual framework, which can be used to criticise neo-liberalism, big business and the effects of globalisation, while at the same time defending the moral value of business and giving an interpretation of the anti-globalisation protests. (shrink)
A discussion of the historical development of the relationship between moral philosophy and political economy and economics qua disciplines, followed by a treatment of questions of justice in the contemporary discussion and then by an overview of the subdiscipline of busness ethics.
Filosoffen og etikeren, lektor ved DPU, Asger Sørensen har samlet og nyskrevet artikler om den franske filosof, sociolog og forfatter Georges Bataille (10. september 1897 - 8. juli 1962), som vi udgiver i 50 året for hans død. En omfattende monografi med både filosofiske og sociologiske aspekter af den kontroversielle forfatter. Desuden en 2. del om forfatterens personlige møde med Batailles univers.
Videnskabsteori handler om krav til videnskabelig viden, og disse krav hviler på forudsætninger, der kan ekspliciteres yderligere. -/- Specielt i dag er der dog brug for en bog, der ikke blot analyserer den klassiske videnskabsteori, men i samme diskurs også forholder sig til de meget forskellige tankegange, der i dag giver sig ud for at være videnskabsteori. -/- Om videnskabelig viden til dem, der ønsker et bedre videnskabsteoretisk overblik, og til dem som ønsker at gå mere i dybden med den (...) egentlige filosofiske videnskabsteori. Bogen henvender sig til studerende og færdige kandidater inden for især samfundsvidenskab og humaniora. -/- Asger Sørensens ambition med bogen er at bidrage til klarhed og fornuft i en verden, hvor ideologisk forblændelse ikke blot sker gennem massemedier og underholdningsindustri, men også gennem en akademisk teoriproduktion, der udvikler og anerkender alle mulige programmer for videnskab. (shrink)
Hegel's influence on post-Hegelian philosophy is as profound as it is ambiguous. Modern philosophy is philosophy after Hegel. Taking leave of Hegel's system appears to be a common feature of modern and post-modern thought. One could even argue that giving up Hegel's claim of totality defines philosophy after Hegel. Modern and post-modern philosophies are philosophies of finitude: Hegel's philosophy cannot be repeated. However, its status as a negative backdrop for modern and post-modern thought already shows its pervasive influence. Precisely in (...) its criticism of Hegel, modern thought is bound up with his thinking. (shrink)
Introducing articles on Kant’s Toward Perpetual Peace, various interpretative questions are discussed. Externally, alleged senility is contrasted with political maturity, just as irony and rhetorics are discussed in relation to (self-)censorship and the French Revolution. Internally, Kant scholars have discussed, e.g. the use of ‘eternal’ vs. ‘perpetual’, the question of preventive war, and, more in general, the relation between Kant’s political writings. In relation to the three definitive articles on state law, law of people and world citizen law, issues are, (...) e.g., Kant’s conception of constitution, democracy and their relation to peace, peace federation vs. world republic, thesis vs. hypothesis, and various ideas of sovereignty, as well as cosmopolitanism vs. world citizen right. Finally, questions concerning morality vs. politics and concerning transcendental publicity are presented. (shrink)
Considering citizenship education specifically in relation to deliberative politics, first, I focus on the role that Habermas in Between Facts and Norms allots to opinion and will formation as a kind of Bildung, emphasizing the collective aspect of discursive formation in the state as well as in civil society. Secondly, even though I have stressed the crucial role of deliberation in the formation to virtue, I recognize that Habermas attempts to combine the republican call for civic virtue with the liberal (...) claims to have rights. Thirdly, I emphasize that also for Habermas Bildung in some sense constitutes the truth of human being, although it is not specified in detail. Fourthly, I argue that democratic citizenship education would benefit from a substantial notion of Bildung, but that Habermas does not support such an argument. Recognizing that Habermas’s idea of collective formation is restricted to providing justice in terms of politics and law, and bearing in mind the alienation in fact produced within the multitudes of modern capitalist and militarist society, I conclude by expressing the fear that Habermas’s account of democratic formation will not be sufficiently attractive to contemporary democratic citizens and thus unable to function as a normative ideal. (shrink)
The argument is that Bildung has occupied Habermas from the earliest writings. In these writings he criticizes the idea of being educated as an expression of innate abilities and emphasizes instead the significance of the social conditions of the upbringing. This is the subject of the first section. The second section provides a presentation of the ideology-critical analysis of Bildung found in Habermas’s doctoral thesis on The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. The basic critique is that the ideal of (...) individual Bildung is too tightly connected to economic and political dominance, but still the ideal contains some truth. The third section maps his relatively sparse comments regarding Bildung in the subsequent decades. Significant here is Knowledge and Human Interest, where he works himself out of the philosophy of consciousness framework towards the Theory of communicative action. This becomes the communicative approach, which becomes the framework of Habermas’ discussion of Bildung, both in relation to philosophical ethics – discourse ethics – and in more specific discussions, such as what is the role of the university in modern society. Finally just a few words on the political philosophy and the philosophy of law, which Habermas presents in Between Facts and Norms, where he once again allows Bildung have a positive normative significance, but now in a collective communicative perspective. (shrink)
Tong Shijun holds a concept of dialectics which can also be found in Mao’s writings and in classical Chinese philosophy. Tong, however, is ambivalent in his attitude to dialectics in this sense, and for this reason he recommends Chinese philosophy to focus more on formal logic. My point will be that with another concept of dialectics Tong can have dialectics without giving up on logic and epistemology. This argument is given substance by an analysis of texts by Mao, Tong and (...) Hegel. (shrink)
The distinction between teleology and deontology is today almost universally accepted within practical philosophy, but deontology is and has from the beginning been subordinate to utili-tarianism. ‘Deontology’ was constructed by Bentham to signify the art and science of private morality within a utilitarian worldview. The classical distinction was constructed by Broad as a refinement of Sidgwick’s utilitarianism, and then adopted by Frankena. To Broad it signified two opposite tendencies in ethics, in Frankena’s textbooks, however, it becomes an exclusive distinction, where (...) de-ontology signifies disregard for consequences, and it is therefore almost impossible to think of deontology as a framework for a com-prehensive ethical theory. This conception, however, is adopted by Rawls, and in his contractarian interpretation of deontology it is in fact no more within the sphere of ethics. (shrink)
From A Theory of Justice to The Law of Peoples Rawls’s liberalism develops from individualism to a kind of communitarianism. This apparently makes him blind to conflicts between the individual and the collective, and the resulting position contributes to change his perspective on just war. From a duty to prevent war by civil disobedience he develops a duty to initiate war because of human right violations, and this must be criticized.
Understanding political philosophy as practical implies reflecting on principles as well as on material matters, on justice as well as on government. Liberalism is the main challenge to political philosophy, since its optimistic laissez faire attitude denies the legitimacy of political government. Even the modern political liberalism reflects these basic traits of liberalism. However, liberalism returns again and again, since it makes sense for human beings, who need to trust and have a capacity to imagine, but find themselves deceived by (...) political authority. The conclusion is that we must overcome liberalism to be able to practice politics and political philosophy in the way presented here. (shrink)
Fortunately, the challenge of alienation is now again taken seriously in intellectual discussions. Already years ago, Axel Honneth made the reflection on alienation a defining issue for social philosophy per se, and as the prime example of social philosophy, he brought forth Critical Theory. Within this horizon, recently two conceptions of alienation have been proposedby Rahel Jeaggi and Hartmut Rosa, and the present article takes issue with both of these proposals, criticizing in particular their anti-essentialism. Hence, questioning the post-metaphysical agenda (...) that Jaeggi has inherited from Honneth, I criticize her juxtaposition of the existentialist and the Marxist critique of alienation, her understanding of the good life as autonomy, and finally her acceptance of post-modern and liberal criticism of metaphysics and ontology. Turning to Rosa, I appreciate his societal approach to the critique of alienation, emphasizing the significance of capitalist modernity, but also he accepts the post-metaphysical agenda, and his aesthetic idea of the good life as resonance remains strongly individualistic. Both of these conceptions of alienation thus have ideological implications that threatens to turn upside down the original intentions and implications of Critical Theory in relation to social and political justice. To conclude, the criticism of capitalism, political economy and real life politics is still relevant for understanding alienation, and therefore it is worth returning to the classics of the discussion. (shrink)
In my response, I initially defend my preference for classical Critical Theory, emphasizing its continued relevance in capitalist modernity, stressing that the epistemological approach does not imply dogmatism with regards to scientific theory or Historical Materialism, just as it does not imply closure with regards to political democracy. When it comes to the dialectics of the classics, I also defend an epistemological approach, arguing that the dialectics aiming for truth implies critique and negativity. However, confronted with the duality of transcendental (...) ideas and historical relativity, I express my confidence in human intuition. Following Hegel, determinate negation must sublate the intuitively conceived universality to a new conception that contains the result of the negation. Finally, I do not see how the conceptual aporias of general economy can be solved by the current political degrowth project. Still, politics is what we need more of, namely social democracy. (shrink)