Kristina Lepold
Goethe University Frankfurt
The social-philosophical discourse of the last 20 years pictured recognition mainly as medium of human autonomy. In recent years however, concerns have been raised over whether recognition might not occasionally work in the opposite direction, as means of subjection. This article contends that these concerns rely on a misconstruction of the relationship between recognition and subjection as merely contingent. Developing themes from Foucault’s work, it argues that recognition rather always necessarily involves a moment of subjection. In the first part, I show that Foucault, especially in his power-analytic writings, can plausibly be read as theorist of recognition insofar as every relation of power presupposes the recognition of the other as free. In the second part, I elaborate that every concrete relation of power depends on conditions - knowledge and norms - that precede it and that are formed and transformed in complex historical processes, in which the authority of individual subjects is always only a limited one. Against this background, it will become visible that recognition indeed allows us to conduct ourselves autonomously as certain kinds of subjects according to certain norms but as such also always subjects us as it ties our freedom to conditions that we remain largely exposed to
Keywords Foucault  power  recognition  autonomy  subjection
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DOI 10.1515/dzph-2014-0022
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