ABSTRACT While the first generation of the so-called Frankfurt School has promoted a strong interconnection between social critique and knowledge of the social world, contemporary critical theory seems to consider that epistemological issues don’t deserve anymore consideration. Is it really possible to elaborate a convincing theory of social critique without taking seriously the various links between social critique and knowledge? This article argues that the answer is no. In a first step, it recalls the ways in which the philosophical debate (...) about social critique is currently articulated and how it disconnects social critique and knowledge. One of the reasons for such a disconnection relates to a vision of politics as consisting mainly in a conflict between normative principles, notably between conceptions of social justice. This vision of politics is criticized in the second step of this paper. A second reason, examined in the third part of the paper, relates to the risk of epistemic violence. The shared but questionable assumption is that any sociological or philosophical attempt to produce knowledge would necessarily lead to epistemic violence rather than to epistemic empowerment. (shrink)
Edited by Hans-Christoph Schmidt am Busch & Christopher Zurn. This volume collects original, cutting-edge essays on the philosophy of recognition by international scholars eminent in the field. By considering the topic of recognition as addressed by both classical and contemporary authors, the volume explores the connections between historical and contemporary recognition research and makes substantive contributions to the further development of contemporary theories of recognition.
This article argues that Axel Honneth’s ethics of recognition offers a robust model for a renewed critical theory of society, provided that it does not shy away from its political dimensions. First, the ethics of recognition needs to clarify its political moment at the conceptual level to remain conceptually sustainable. This requires a clarification of the notion of identity in relation to the three spheres of recognition, and a clarification of its exact place in a politics of recognition. We suggest (...) that a return to Hegel’s mature theory of subjectivity helps specify the relationship between the normative demand for autonomous identity and its realization in and through politics. (shrink)
This is the first English-language translation of an important book that contributes to contemporary debates about social suffering in sociology, social psychology, political theory and philosophy. Renault provides a systematic account of the ways in which social suffering could be conceptualised.
This paper begins by defending the twofold relevance, political and theoretical, of the notion of social suffering. Social suffering is a notion politics cannot do without today, as it seems indispensable to describe all the aspects of contemporary injustice. As such, it has been taken up in a number of significant research programmes in different social sciences (sociology, anthropology, social psychology). The notion however poses significant conceptual problems as it challenges disciplinary boundaries traditionally set up to demarcate individual and social (...) phenomena. I argue that philosophy has a role to play in the attempt to integrate the diverging perspectives stemming from the social sciences. I attempt to show that, as it engages with the social sciences to account for the conceptual and normative issues thrown open by the question of social suffering, philosophy in fact retrieves the very idea of critical theory, as a conjugated critique of social reality and of its knowledge. I conclude by showing how the question of social suffering then becomes a useful criterion to distinguish between the different existing approaches in critical theory. (shrink)
This paper contrasts the Hegelianism of contemporary neo-pragmatism and the Hegelianism of classical pragmatism as it has been reassessed in contemporary Deweyan scholarship. Drawing on Dewey’s interpretation of Hegel, this paper argues that Hegel’s theory of the spirit is in many aspects more akin to Dewey’s pragmatism than Brandom’s. The first part compares Dewey’s pragmatism with Hegel’s conceptions of experience and the theory/practice relation. The second part compares Dewey’s naturalism with Hegel’s theory of the relation between nature and spirit.
Cet article s’interroge sur le sens des termes « français » et « allemand » quand on distingue des caractéristiques françaises et allemandes à propos de la théorie de la reconnaissance. Deux manières de distinguer ces caractéristiques sont analysées : la première considère que la promotion philosophique du concept de reconnaissance est une opération allemande à laquelle rien ne correspond de ce côté-ci du Rhin, la seconde affirme que le propre des approches philosophiques françaises de la reconnaissance est de souligner (...) la face négative de la reconnaissance, alors que les Allemands rattacheraient la reconnaissance à l’autonomie et à la réconciliation. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Dewey's critical conception of work deserves consideration because it combines two types of models of social critique that are usually considered separately in contemporary Dewey scholarship. In the syllabus Social Institutions and the Study of Morals, Dewey contends that the valuation of social settings should be grounded on criteria immanent to social experience, and he applies his model of immanent critique to work-related issues. In his philosophy of education, he highlights that institutional settings should be valued from the point (...) of view of their formative effects, and in Democracy and Education, the formative effects of work are put to the fore. The case of work illustrates the fact that specific institutional settings require that immanent critique be complemented by critique of the formative effects. The psychological and social centrality of work implies that the problems met in the social experience of work produce effects that concern not only the social experience of work but also life outside of work. Therefore, these effects cannot be accurately tackled by an immanent critique of work. (shrink)
From John Maynard Keynes’s prediction of a fifteen-hour workweek to present-day speculation about automation, we have not stopped forecasting the end of work. Critical theory and political philosophy have turned their attention away from the workplace to focus on other realms of domination and emancipation. But far from coming to an end, work continues to occupy a central place in our lives. This is not only because of the amount of time people spend on the job. Many of our deepest (...) hopes and fears are bound up in our labor—what jobs we perform, how we relate to others, how we might flourish. The Return of Work in Critical Theory presents a bold new account of the human significance of work and the human costs of contemporary forms of work organization. A collaboration among experts in philosophy, social theory, and clinical psychology, it brings together empirical research with incisive analysis of the political stakes of contemporary work. The Return of Work in Critical Theory begins by looking in detail at the ways in which work today fails to meet our expectations. It then sketches a phenomenological description of work and examines the normative premises that underlie the experience of work. Finally, it puts forward a novel conception of work that can renew critical theory’s engagement with work and point toward possibilities for transformation. Inspired by Max Horkheimer’s vision of critical theory as empirically informed reflection on the sources of social suffering with emancipatory intent, The Return of Work in Critical Theory is a lucid diagnosis of the malaise and pathologies of contemporary work that proposes powerful remedies. (shrink)
The meanings and functions of the notion of social philosophy in John Dewey’s writings have not really been subjected to serious philological investigation. Until recently, Dewey scholarship has simply equated social philosophy either to political philosophy in general, or to philosophy of education,1 and in recent years we have tended to read this social philosophy from a retrospective point of view, with reference to contemporary debates about social philosophy as an alternative to contemporary political philosophy.2 One reason for this lack (...) of philological attention has been that the only way to study Dewey’s project of social philosophy was to refer to the English translation of the Chinese translation... (shrink)
In contemporary political philosophy, the disqualification of the problematic of alienation has to a large extent rested on the conviction that the norms of democracy, justice, and the good life provide a sufficient framework within which to outline a social critique that is politically pertinent. The paradox is that, at the very moment when such a conviction was becoming widespread, its validity was being refuted by the historical reality. It would appear that the casting-off of the Fordist system has seen (...) the emergence of a different set of social pathologies which, if they are to be adequately thematised and criticised, require the activation of the notion of alienation. (shrink)
The evidence today is practically uncontested: about thirty years ago we left Fordism behind and entered a new phase of capitalism. That the structures of the post-Fordist social order call for new modes of social critique is also a prevalent idea. The category of alienation continues, however, to be discredited. Nevertheless it is not clear that the categories of democracy (as apparatuses of non-domination), justice and the good life are capable of bringing about the political effects that may be expected (...) today from the concept of alienation. For these reasons, not only the historical diagnostic that appears to have authorized jettisoning the problematic of alienation but also the model of critique used to replace it demand critical scrutiny. (shrink)
This paper asks whether or not normative political philosophy can face the challenge of the critique of the political. This question is addressed to theories of justice in general, but this paper considers Habermas' position in particular. It advances the thesis that the main theoretical and political problem of theories of justice is that they have not really taken the abolitionist dimension of the concept of justice into account. As a consequence, they run the risk of reproducing in themselves the (...) political abstraction that they should criticise. (shrink)
The interpretation of Marx’s references to work and to domination is a vexed question. Can we say that Marx criticizes capitalism in terms of its effects on work? Or does he criticize capitalism from the standpoint of those subject to domination, and with whom his position is one of solidarity? Or does he elaborate a description of the unprecedented transformations brought about in the relations of power, which the category of domination is unable to apprehend effectively? The article argues that (...) these differences in interpretation are actually based on a series of false oppositions. Marx’s aim is in effect to articulate the question of the domination of work and the question of domination at work, insofar as he accords a position of political centrality to the connection between domination and work. (shrink)
If it seems fully legitimate to introduce Marx in the contemporary discussion about recognition, it is more disputable to attribute to Marx an unified conception of recognition. There is no doubt that Marx hasn’t provided any systematic account of recognition, but he has tackled the issue of recognition from various points of view. Could these various points of view be unified in a general conception of recognition? This article claims that this is not the case since three accounts of recognition (...) should be distinguished that are hardly compatible one with the other: one Feuerbachian account of recognition of the species being in the other, one account of recognition related to the dynamics of disrespect as social experience, and one account of recognition through social roles. (shrink)
How does Marx refer to Work and to Domination ? The interpretation of Marx’s references to work and to domination is a vexed question. Can we say that Marx criticises capitalism in terms of its effects on work ? Or does he criticise capitalism from the standpoint of those subject to domination, and with whom his position is one of solidarity ? Or does he elaborate a description of the unprecedented transformations brought about in the relations of power, which the (...) category of domination is unable to apprehend effectively ? The article argues that these differences in interpretation are actually based on a series of false oppositions. Marx’s aim is in effect to articulate the question of the domination of work and the question of domination at work, insofar as he accords a position of political centrality to the connection between domination and work. (shrink)
Au cours de cet entretien, Emmanuel Renault nous offre un aperçu de la manière dont la thématique de la reconnaissance est traitée en France aujourd’hui, notamment à travers le renouveau des études sur Hegel et Marx. Il explique la façon dont la reconnaissance a pu s’ériger en paradigme (en dépit de ses usages multiples et variés en France comme ailleurs), au cours de la dernière décennie et le rôle joué par Axel Honneth dans ce procès. Finalement, il explicite sa manière (...) d’envisager la pratique de la philosophie politique et son projet d’une critique du capitalisme. Emmanuel Renault nous livre également un commentaire critique mais constructif sur la manière dont Paul Ricœur envisage la reconnaissance et suggère quelques pistes concernant les possibles développements futurs des usages de la reconnaissance. (shrink)
- L'articolo ricostruisce la tradizione della teoria critica nella quale il concetto di individualitÀ ricopre un ruolo centrale. Questo concetto č cruciale giÀ in Marx, sia per la sua antropologia, sia per la sua teoria sociale e il suo retroterra normativo. La posizione centrale dell'individualitÀ diviene piů esplicita in Adorno, che ne intreccia aspetti critici e utopici. Infine, č indubbia l'appartenenza di Honneth a questa tradizione, che egli si propone di attualizzare in prospettiva socio-psicologica, tenendo nel debito conto le trasformazioni (...) del capitalismo contemporaneo. (shrink)
_Marx and Critical Theory_ examines Marx’s main philosophical, political and social theoretical ideas. Its purpose is twofold: making sense of the concepts and theses of Marx, and showing that they remain relevant for contemporary critical theory.
Postfordism, Marxism and Social critique The concepts of globalisation and of neoliberalism are symptomatic of the transformations which have taken place in the way the question of social critique has been addressed. The contemporary period has witnessed the emergence of a protocol of social analysis in which political inquiry is linked to historical diagnosis, drawing on the categories of historical periodisation and of economic analysis. The debate is thus, to a certain degree, shifted to the terrain of Marxism. As for (...) the latter, it is confronted with a new set of theoretical and political challenges. (shrink)
Critical theory : tradition and current issues In this interview Axel Honneth reviews his personal trajectory, starting out from Marx and proceeding by way of critical theory. He defines his relation to the various currents of contemporary political philosophy and to the various research agendas which are today to the fore in critical theory. Honneth examines the place which a social philosophy can today claim and the question of the current renewal of interest in Adorno.
Marx and his Deflationist Conception of Philosophy What is the status of philosophy in the Marxian project ? To answer this question, we must examinethe place of philosophy in the Marxian opus and we must qualify the nature of the philosophicalposition which can be attributed to Marx. The thesis put forward in the article is that the specificnature of the Marxian enterprise is less the result of its being a defence of a new philosophical principle , and more a case (...) of its having formulated a new practice ofphilosophy. This practice is one which is characterised by its deflationary thrust. A comparison withpragmatism and with critical theory can help us to spell out the issues which are involved here. (shrink)
The question of social medicine provides the opportunity to engage in a critical reading of Foucault's theory of biopower. The analyses dedicated by Foucault to `the birth of social medicine' represent one of the few examples of a thorough application of that theory. They allow Foucault to show the heuristic value of the biopolitical hypothesis at the level of the most concrete historical materiality, and not just at that of the general history of the forms of governmentality. These analyses, however, (...) also allow the historiographical and political limits of the biopolitical hypothesis to come to light. From the perspective of the history of sciences as well as from that of the analysis of the modalities of social critique in the first half of the nineteenth century, Foucault appears to provide an interpretation that is too continuist and tends to homogenise the historical phenomena. The disqualification of social medicine relies in part on simplifications that continue to bear great significance today in view of the current transformations in the social question. (shrink)
On Marx et Marxisms. In response to the questions addressed by Jacques Bidet and Bruno Tinel, Gérard Duménil, Michael Löwy and Emmanuel Renault here outline the approach they adopted in their two recently published books on Marx, and on Marxisms . The questions raised here mainly hinge on the articulation between the political, the philosophical and the economic dimension of Marx’s writings, and the way these can be mobilised within contemporary debates.
Ideology as description and ideology as legitimation The Marxian concept of ideology has been subjected to various types of criticism. Some criticism derives from the concept’s internal difficulties. Other criticism stems from the historical evolution of ideological forms. The article argues that a shift which is often presented as an overcoming of ideology is rather to be seen as a transformation of ideology, which in turn calls for a transformation of our conceptions of ideology. The article thus focuses on the (...) trend towards the replacement of a paradigm of justification by legitimation by a paradigm of justification by description. (shrink)
The crises of neo-liberalism, modalities of revolt and adaptability The aim of the article is to locate the current crisis within the history of neo-liberalism with its successive crises. The authors point to the fact that the crisis is the latest in a series of financial and economic crises, to which must be added energy and food crises. The article analyses the social effects of neo-liberalism by way of its return to a logic focused on the production of absolute surplus-value, (...) following the revolt of the financial bourgeoisie against the social State. It concludes with an examination of the effects of the various forms of resistance to neo-liberalism upon the modes of legitimation that are in operation. Focusing in particular on the situation in France, the article argues that the reactions to the crisis, between revolt and resignation, are to be explained by way of the structural effects of neo-liberalism and in terms of the crisis of legitimation now affecting it. (shrink)
La question de la philosophie de l’histoire compte parmi celles qui conditionnent l’interprétation de la position philosophique du jeune Marx, du sens de son rapport à Hegel et au jeune hégélianisme. La conception matérialiste de l’histoire se présente comme une théorie de l’histoire irréductible à une philosophie de l’histoire, mais on peut cependant identifier différents éléments de continuité si l’on remonte aux usages spécifiques que le jeune Marx faisait d’arguments relevant spécifiquement de la philosophie de l’histoire. Prendre au sérieux le (...) fait que le jeune Marx a cherché à élaborer une théorie sociale et politique du point de vue d’une philosophie de l’histoire, comme on cherche à le montrer dans cet article, permet donc de rendre compte d’éléments de continuité entre la période de jeunesse et la période de maturité. Tenir compte de la spécificité et de la diversité des formes de réalisation du projet des philosophies de l’histoire peut également permettre de mieux comprendre en quel sens Marx et les jeunes hégéliens étaient hégéliens, et quel type de jeune hégélien fut Marx entre 1841 et 1844. (shrink)
Current debates on neo-liberal governmentality and the medicalization-psychologization of the social constantly refer to Foucault’s theory of biopolitics. I critically examine Foucault’s notions of biopolitics and liberalism as conveyed in his articles on the emergence of social medicine in the 19th century. My thesis is that the movement of sanitary reform is irreducible to the mere development of liberal governmentality and that the idea of social medicine was associated in the period with a critique of the normative principles of liberalism (...) which remains relevant today. (shrink)
Les articles réunis dans ce dossier de la revue Astérion portent sur la première génération de la Théorie critique (dont Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse et Erich Fromm constituent sans doute les figures principales). Ils se concentrent plus précisément sur les contributions philosophiques qui marquèrent la période ouverte par l’accession de Horkheimer à la direction de l’Institut de recherches sociales (1931) et close par la publication en 1944 de Dialektik..
A Marxist Analysis of Bodies ? In various ways, Marx ascribes a central role to the body in his theoretical and political system. In both his philosophy of praxis and his critique of political economy, the body is presented as a site of forces and needs. This enables Marx to provide a naturalist ground for the dynamics of praxis. It also enables him to define a critical perspective in terms of the effects registered in the body of a structure of (...) domination and exploitation. The aim of the article is to present these themes and to discuss their subsequent treatment by authors such as Merleau-Ponty, Bourdieu and Foucault, while reflecting on the way recent transformations of capitalism have led to their reformulation and to the emergence of two new critical tropes: the body as commodity and as an ideology. (shrink)