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 article briefly presents some of the main features of the notion of “centrality of work” within the framework of the “psychodynamic” approach to work developed by Christophe Dejours. The paper argues that we should distinguish between at least four separate but related ways in which work can be said to be central: psychologically, in terms of gender relations, social-politically and epistemically.
Bringing together leading international scholars within the fields of social and political theory and philosophy, this book explores how we should understand work and its role(s) in our lives and wider society. -/- What challenges are posed by work in our changing economy and the new economic forms that are beginning to emerge, and how can we best address these challenges? In what ways do patterns of working, as well as work technologies, shape people’s lives within and outside work, in (...) particular their life opportunities and their social and natural environment? How might we organize—or seek to reorganize—workplaces so that the experience of work better reflects our shared ethical ideals and normative principles? This volume examines these vital questions in a comprehensive and systematic manner in order to provide much needed theoretical insight and practical guidance in reflecting on the nature, problems, and possibilities of work currently. -/- This book will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students and established academics in the areas of contemporary political theory and philosophy, social theory, legal philosophy, labour studies, the sociology of work, practical ethics, critical theory, and political activism. (shrink)
This article aims to present some of the main results of contemporary French psychodynamics of work. The writings of Christophe Dejours constitute the central references in this area. His psychoanalytical approach, which is initially concerned with the impact of contemporary work practices on individual health, has implications that go well beyond the narrow psycho-pathological interest. The most significant theoretical development to have come out of Dejours's research is that of Yves Clot, whose writings will constitute the second reference point in (...) this article. The article attempts to demonstrate that the thick definition of work that Dejours and Clot operate with, as a result of their focus on its psychological function, speaks directly, in substantial and critical ways, to all disciplines with an interest in work, to philosophers, social theorists and social scientists, including economic theorists. (shrink)
Honneth's fundamental claim that the normativity of social orders can be found nowhere but in the very experience of those who suffer injustice leads, I argue, to a radical theory and critique of society, with the potential to provide an innovative theory of social movements and a valid alternative to political liberalism.
In this article we examine the idea of a politics of misrecognition of working activity. We begin by introducing a distinction between the kind of recognition and misrecognition that attaches to one’s identity, and the kind of recognition and misrecognition that attaches to one’s activity. We then consider the political significance of the latter kind of recognition and misrecognition in the context of work. Drawing first on empirical research undertaken by sociologists at the Institut für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt, we argue (...) for a differentiated concept of recognition that shows the politics of misrecognition at work to be as much a matter of conflict between modes of recognition as it is a struggle for recognition as opposed to non -recognition. The differentiated concept of recognition which allows for this empirical insight owes much to Axel Honneth’s theory. But as we argue in the section that follows, this theory is ambiguous about the normative content of the expectations of recognition that are bound up with the activity of working. This in turn makes it unclear how we should understand the normative basis of the politics of the misrecognition of what one does at work. In the final sections of the article, we suggest that the psychodynamic model of work elaborated by Christophe Dejours and others at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris can shed light on this matter; that is to say, it can help to clarify the normative significance and political stakes of the misrecognition of working activity. (shrink)
This article aims to present a new perspective on contemporary debates about the transformations of work and employment, and their impacts on individuals and communities, by focusing on the writings of Christophe Dejours. Basically, the article attempts to show that Dejours' writings make a significant contribution to contemporary social theory. This might seem like an odd claim to make, since Dejours' main training was in psychoanalysis and his main activity is the clinical, psychiatric study of pathologies linked to work. However, (...) in the course of his career, Dejours has greatly extended this initial clinical interest, and by integrating insights from philosophy and other social sciences, has developed a highly sophisticated and consistent theoretical model of work. Starting from a narrow psychopathological focus, Dejours has gradually developed a full-blown theoretical defence of the centrality of work. The article outlines the main features of Dejours' metapsychological model, and the structuring role played by work in his theory of subjective identity. This allows us to outline the originality of his approach by comparison with some of the most significant current accounts of the impact of transformations of work and employment conditions upon individuals and societies, notably Honneth, Castel and Sennett. (shrink)
This paper attempts to show that an expansive normative vision can be drawn from Hegel's texts, one whose scope significantly exceeds the anthropocentric model presented in the ‘objective spirit’ parts of his system. This expansion of normativity is linked to an expansive vision of relationality underpinning Hegel's model of ‘concrete freedom’. In order to put into sharper relief the links between expansive relationality and normativity, the late thinking of Maurice Merleau-Ponty is mobilized as a heuristic contrasting point. In the ‘subjective (...) spirit’ sections of the Encyclopaedia are found insights that anticipate key features of Merleau-Ponty's notion of ‘flesh’. Locating these insights allows us to detect the underlying thread this paper seeks to mine. Hegel's own ‘theory of flesh’ culminates in the notion of ‘constitutive attachments’, the idea that the content of subjectivity is made up of all the bonds linking the human subject to her surrounding worlds and objects. Since freedom for Hegel is ‘being with’, and since normative demands arise from the different ways in which freedom is concretely realized, it would seem that Hegel's relational conception of subjectivity should lead to an equally expansive conception of normativity. Against the objection that Hegel denied any normative status to non-human beings, the paper points to passages in his work, notably his account of aesthetic judgement and natural beauty, which appear to suggest the opposite. (shrink)
This article seeks to re-evaluate the importance of the political in the thinking of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The article first shows that Sartre’s description of Merleau-Ponty’s intellectual trajectory as one of increasing political apathy from the 1950s onwards is inaccurate. The article then demonstrates that throughout the post-war period, including in his project for a new ontology, Merleau-Ponty believed that a revised version of Marxism would provide the methodological framework within which philosophical work could address the political challenges of the present. (...) This revised Marxism was to be a direct alternative to the reifying uses of Marx’s thinking. It would rely upon the latter’s self-reflexive historicism, which meant its very failures showed how philosophy might transform itself in connection with its own time. Cet article tente souligner la place du politique dans la pensée de Maurice Merleau-Ponty. On contestera d’abord la description faite par Sartre de sa trajectoire intellectuelle, selon laquelle il aurait fait preuve d’une apathie croissante, à partir des années cinquante, vis-à-vis des questions politiques. On montrera ensuite que durant toute la période d’après-guerre, jusque dans les recherches ontologiques ultimes, Merleau-Ponty a pensé qu’un usage renouvelé du marxisme permettrait au travail philosophique de répondre aux défis politiques du présent. Une telle révision du marxisme représentait une alternative directe aux usages réifiant de la pensée de Marx. Cette révision serait rendue possible par la réflexivité historiciste de cette pensée, qui fait que, dans ses erreurs mêmes, celle-ci révèle la capacité de la philosophie à se transformer au contact de son temps. (shrink)
Although relatively unknown a decade ago, the work of Jacques Ranciere is fast becoming a central reference in the humanities and social sciences. His thinking brings a fresh, innovative approach to many fields, notably the study of work, education, politics, literature, film, art, as well as philosophy. This is the first, full-length introduction to Ranciere's work and covers the full range of his contribution to contemporary thought, presenting in clear, succinct chapters the key concepts Ranciere has developed in his writings (...) over the last forty years. Students new to Ranciere will find this work accessible and comprehensive, an ideal introduction to this major thinker. For readers already familiar with Ranciere, the in-depth analysis of each key concept, written by leading scholars, should provide an ideal reference. (shrink)
This paper analyses the model of interaction at the heart of Axel Honneth's social philosophy. It argues that interaction in his mature ethics of recognition has been reduced to intercourse between human persons and that the role of nature is now missing from it. The ethics of recognition takes into account neither the material dimensions of individual and social action, nor the normative meaning of non-human persons and natural environments. The loss of nature in the mature ethics of recognition is (...) made visible through a comparison with Honneth's initial formulation of his project. As an anthropology of intersubjectivity combining the teaching of the German philosophical anthropologists and G.H. Mead, his first model sought to ground social theory in the natural preconditions of human action. The last part of the article argues that a return to Mead's theory of practical intersubjectivity informed by Merleau-Ponty's germane theory of intercorporeity provides essential conceptual tools to enable the integration of the natural and the material within the theory of recognition. (shrink)
This essay discusses four books recently published by Christophe Dejours with the aim of extracting their most significant social-theoretical and philosophical implications. The first two books are two contributions by Dejours in current debates and public policy initiatives in France through the application of his psychodynamic approach to work related issues (work and violence; work and suicide). Even though these texts are shaped by the specific contexts in which they were written, they also contain broader social-theoretical insights that are quite (...) significant. In the other two books, the two volumes of his sum Travail vivant, Dejours makes explicit the fundamental theoretical foundation upon which his psychodynamic approach is based. I will attempt to demonstrate that these books have significant implications for contemporary social theory and philosophy, notably as they establish the indissoluble continuity between the corporeal and cognitive capacities of the human subject, and the importance of this insight for moral and political reflection. (shrink)
The origins of Axel Honneth's theory of recognition lie in his earlier project to correct the conceptual confusions and empirical shortcomings of historical materialism for the purpose of an adequate post-Habermasian critical social theory. Honneth proposed to accomplish this project, most strikingly, by reconnecting critical social theory with one of its repressed philosophical sources, namely anthropological materialism. In its mature shape, however, recognition theory operates on a narrow concept of interaction, which seems to lose sight of the material mediations with (...) which intersubjective relations are imbricated. The paper argues that a circumspect return to this twofold materialist heritage could substantively correct and enrich contemporary critical theory. The paper provides an illustration of this with the paradigmatic example of work. (shrink)
Work and Experience of Domination in Contemporary Neoliberalism This paper seeks to study the contemporary forms of domination at and through work, by focusing on subjective experiences of work. Against the background of Marx’s analysis of the manyfold nexus between social and political domination in general and domination at work, I begin by drawing in broad strokes the general picture of current experiences of work emerging from the contemporary French sociology and psychology of work. Related to this rich literature but (...) also contrasting with it, the psychodynamic approach developed by Christophe Dejours seems particularly significant, notably because its provides a consistent model explaining the links between subjective experience, social interactions beyond work, material conditions of production, and broad cultural and political factors. From the psychodynamic model arises an original analysis of the current forms of domination and alienation at work, one, I argue in conclusion, which could substantially inform the current attempt to develop a new “social philosophy”. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider succinctly the main Marxist objections to Honneth’s model of critical social theory, and Honneth’s key objections to Marx-inspired models. I then seek to outline a rapprochement between the two positions, by showing how Honneth’s normative concept of recognition is not antithetical to functionalist arguments, but in fact contains a social-theoretical dimension, the idea that social reproduction and social evolution revolve around struggles around the interpretation of core societal norms. By highlighting the social theoretical side of (...) recognition, one can outline a model of critical social theory that in fact corresponds to the descriptive and normative features outlined by Marx himself. However, the price of this rapprochement for Honnethian critical theory is a greater emphasis on the division of labour as the central mechanism of social reproduction. (shrink)
This volume addresses the long-standing neglect of the category of labour in critical social theory and it presents a powerful case for a new paradigm based on the anthropological significance of work and its role in shaping social bonds.
Ludwig Feuerbach is famous for his critical hermeneutics of religion. At the heart of it lie arguments of philosophical anthropology that directly anticipate contemporary developments in the theory of recognition. He counts amongst the great philosophers who, immediately following Kant, emphasised the constitutive importance for human beings of interpersonal and social relations. Indeed, his theory of intersubjectivity contains features that are highly original, notably the link between individual and community, and between recognition and recollection.
The book forms the first critical study of Jacques Rancière’s impact and contribution to contemporary theoreticaland interdisciplinary studies. It showcases the work of leading scholars infields such as political theory, history and aesthetic theory; each of whom areuniquely situated to engage with the novelty of Rancière’s thinking withintheir respective fields. Each of the essays provides aninvestigation into the critical stance Rancière takes towards hiscontemporaries, concentrating on the versatile application of his thought todiverse fields of study. The aim ofthis collection is (...) to use the critical interventions Rancière’s writing makeson current topics and themes as a way of offering new critical perspectives onhis thought. Wielding their individual expertise, each contributor assesses hisperspectives and positions on thinkers and topics of contemporary importance.The edition includes a new essay by Jacques Rancière, which charts thedifferent problems and motivations that have shaped his work. (shrink)
Maurice Merleau-Ponty was an important twentieth century contributor to the theory of recognition, even though he made literal reference to the concept only sparingly. He emphasized the importance of recognition, not only at the level of inter-personal relations and in the individual’s inclusion in the social, but also in terms of the capacity of human beings to communicate across cultures and across historical distances. The shift towards ontology in his later work provided a renewed grounding for his interest in intersubjectivity (...) and cross-cultural communication. Such continuity might be traced to lasting Hegelian and Marxian legacies in his thinking, which inflected his political interpretation of recognition. (shrink)
In recent years, theorists have contended that we should move to a mode of social organisation where work and the values attached to it are no longer central, a “post-work society”. For these theorists, the modern ideology of work is intrinsically unjust, even irrational, and no longer suited to the challenges of our time. The article presents an alternative response to the problems of work and employment. Rather than moving to a “post-work” society, the article argues that we should transform (...) the world of work, precisely by keeping in view why working is important to individuals and the community. In fact, it is not realistic to believe that human societies could ever do without work. Because human societies are by necessity work societies, and work, if organized correctly, entails many goods, we cannot really, and we should not, wish work away. (shrink)
If we compare it with the fellow notion of liberty, equality has an ambivalent place in modern political thinking. Whilst it counts as one of the fundamental norms, many think that equality is valuable only as a way to realise some features of liberty. I take a historical perspective on this issue, and try to identify some of the pre-modern roots of such an ambivalent attitude towards equality. I do this by using Jacques Rancière’s political model as an analytical framework (...) and by taking a visual route, focusing on classical iconographic representations in which equality was present in the images’ subtexts. Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s allegory of good government is one iconic exposition of equality as a positive condition of civil peace. Already there, however, the positive value of equality is counterposed to the figure of violent retributive justice. Similarly, in the Christian narrative, equality is endorsed as the original condition of creatures under God, but is also associated with violent death. This signals one pre-modern root behind the ambivalence towards equality, particularly when the latter is understood dynamically, as levelling. Such a reversal of value finds an apotheosis, I suggest, in the revolutionary icon of the guillotine, a dramatic representation of equalisation that had a strong influence on modern political thinking. In J. E. Millais’ first painting, of Jesus in the House of his Parents, I find a more positive legacy of Christian equality in modern political thinking. (shrink)
The paper examines briefly Kant's and Fichte's, and more thoroughly, Hegel's theses on womanhood and their social and political consequences. It shows, taking Hegel as a case study, that the idealists' conceptual frameworks should have led them to recognize the rights of women, and, importantly, in Kant's and Hegel's case, that they implicitly did so. However, they chose to repress these unwanted outcomes behind teachings that were more in line with the beliefs of their time. This tension, it is argued (...) in conclusion, is indicative of a conceptual crux that is specific to German idealism, but whose effects can still be perceived today. (shrink)
Bubbio’s new book is a synthesis of his earlier interventions in Hegel studies, nourished by his research on the notion of sacrifice. It offers an unabashed defence of the theological moment in Hegel’s idealism that is bound to attract much interest and critical attention. The book situates itself expertly in the current landscape. Aside from the original proposal it presents, it is a lucid introduction to the state of discussions in current Hegel scholarship. Many sections have great informative value, notably (...) the one on figural reading in Chapter 3. Nevertheless, the overall thesis defended by the book will be viewed critically by a number of readers. (shrink)
Axel Honneth, célèbre théoricien allemand de la reconnaissance qui s’inscrit dans la filiation de l’École de Francfort et notamment de Jürgen Habermas, et Jacques Rancière, éminent penseur français de la mésentente qui a rompu avec la tradition althussérienne, sont deux figures centrales du paysage intellectuel contemporain. Leurs pensées se situent dans deux traditions distinctes, mais elles ont toutes deux à voir avec le marxisme pris au sens large, qu’elles considèrent sous un angle critique. Les deux penseurs portent intérêt à des (...) domaines spécifiques au sein de la philosophie et hors d’elle. S’ils partagent tous deux un souci du domaine politique, Axel Honneth se meut dans la philosophie sociale, la philosophie morale et la philosophie du droit ; il fait un usage important et réfléchi des sciences sociales. Jacques Rancière se tourne, pour sa part, vers l’histoire, l’esthétique et la littérature. Mais une confrontation entre leurs deux pensées paraît s’imposer, tant leurs modèles sont influents dans le champ des sciences sociales, de la théorie politique et de la philosophie critique aujourd’hui. Il s’agit de savoir si les paradigmes qu’ils mettent en avant pour critiquer la société, pour rendre raison de son évolution et des transformations qui doivent la rendre plus juste ou plus libre, le paradigme de la reconnaissance et celui de la mésentente, sont concurrents, s’ils sont exclusifs l’un de l’autre, ou s’ils sont compatibles. (shrink)
It is a hallmark of the Frankfurt School tradition of critical theory that it has consistently made philosophical reflection a central component of its overall project. Indeed, the core identity that this tradition has been able to maintain arguably stems from the fact that a number of key philosophical assumptions have been shared by the generations of thinkers involved in it. These assumptions form a basic ‘philosophical matrix’, whose main aim is to allow for a ‘critique of reason’, the heart (...) of the critique of modern society, which emphasises the collective, historically situated and naturalistically grounded nature of rationality. In this matrix, Feuerbach's place has been only a minor one. This paper aims to show that there is more to be retrieved from Feuerbach for critical theory than at first meets the eye. The first section identifies key conceptual features that are shared by the central authors of the Frankfurt School. They signal a collectivist and materialist shift from Kant to Marx via Hege.. (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)
This paper seeks to clarify some of the methodological and conceptual stakes involved in the attempt to think about politics from the point of view of "living labour". In order to avoid confusions further down the track, a formal analysis of the different possible meanings of "politics" is proposed. Politics is first defined as the series of problems that arise when separate individual lives attempt to organise a common life in common. Four types of problems can be identified on the (...) basis of this initial definition, beyond the questions concerning the origin and justification of power, or the structure of the institutions of government. Following a brief characterisation of the paradigm of living labour, with reference to key texts by Marx and Dejours, this paradigm is then put into practice to provide initial answers to the questions raised in the preliminary analysis. First, the meaning of the fundamental norms of social life (equality, liberty, solidarity) is transformed from the point of view of living labour. Secondly, the implicit social ontology on the basis of which political questions are raised is also altered if viewed from the perspective of living labour, as social partitioning acquires a more specific dimension once conflicts around work are taken into account. Finally, the experience of living labour is a condition of democratic life as it determines the acquisition of personal dispositions which represent not only a prepolitical foundation of democratic activity, but are in fact directly involved in the actual process of collective decision-making. (shrink)
Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872) was born in Landshut, Bavaria, the son of Paul Johann Anselm, a renowned legal theorist who had been called from Jena by the king of Bavaria to modernize the kingdom’s penal code. Feuerbach’s brothers all became distinguished scholars in their fields and his nephew Anselm a renowned classicist painter. After enrolling in theological studies in Heidelberg, Feuerbach became enthralled in Hegel’s philosophy and moved to Berlin to study with him. He presented his dissertation in 1828 at the (...) university of Erlangen and began his career there as a young Privat Dozent. Posterity has associated Feuerbach’s name to his anthropological critique of religion, presented in the 1841 The Essence of Christianity. Yet his writings touched on many other areas of philosophy. His life-long interest in religion arose from his attempt to solve the classical, fundamental questions of philosophy, of the human being’s place in the world, the relationships between thinking and being, reason and nature, mind and body, and the epistemological implications entailed in answering these questions. (shrink)
Axel Honneth was born on 18 July 1949 in Essen, Germany, in the coal-mining part of North Rhine Westphalia, the son of Horst Honneth, a medical doctor, and Annemarie Honneth. His adolescence and early adulthood coincided with the eruption of radical movements around the world, notably in his native country. The legacies of his early involvement in politics can be traced throughout his work. His postgraduate research focused on social and political issues, and embraced the “critical theory” tradition of the (...) Frankfurt School. This is a strand in the Western philosophical landscape whose defining characteristic is precisely that it seeks to establish strong connections between philosophical analysis and the reality of the social and political worlds. In particular, the philosophers of the Frankfurt School seek to align their theoretical work with the progressive movements within the social that aim to challenge and transform oppressive social structures. The political bent of Honneth’s philosophical work can be witnessed in the positive references to Marx in his early articles, his criticisms of Habermas’ theoretical models, and his attempt recently to recalibrate a socialist project for the new century. (shrink)