Historical Materialism 21 (1):177-184 (2013)

In this polemical intervention within the field of French and European social theory, Franck Fischbach proposes to revive and radicalise the tradition of social philosophy. The latter is understood, following Axel Honneth, in terms of the normatively-driven analysis of socio-economic processes that may be characterised as pathologies of the social. Fischbach contrasts the lessons of social philosophy from Rousseau to the Frankfurt School with the recent ascendance to intellectual hegemony of a formalistic, procedural liberalism which is oblivious to social negativity. The review questions the capacity of social philosophy to synthesise stances as politically and methodologically different as those of de Maistre, Nietzsche and Marx, as well as the very pertinence of the appellation ‘philosophy’. Fischbach’s more historically determinate definition of social philosophy as arising out of the critique of Jacobin revolutionary political thought, with its supposed abstraction and voluntarism, fails to contend with the claims of ruptural politics, as well as with those positions that would regard crisis and pathology not just as a menace, but also as an opportunity for liberation. In the end, in spite of its able historical and conceptual mapping, and its commendable demand for totalising critique, Fischbach fails to persuade in his claim that social philosophy is the name for emancipatory thought in the present.
Keywords social philosophy   alienation   Axel Honneth   abstraction   Franck Fischbach   critique
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DOI 10.1163/1569206X-12341286
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Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to the Actor-Network Theory.Bruno Latour - 2005 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.

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