"Sure to be controversial and of interest to a wide audience in feminist history" (Judith Grant, University of Southern California), this book draws on a wide range of political and intellectual traditions to demonstrate that, only by ...
Neoliberalism’s project of making the market the model for all modern freedoms means that critique needs to be able to unmask the distortions and to weigh the costs of its cultural appropriations and resignifications. This diagnostic/evaluative task presents a seeming challenge to the sociologist who is also answerable to scientific purposes that demand objectivity and impartiality. This article investigates two very different attempts to grasp this nettle. It contrasts Peter Wagner’s proposal to reclaim critique as ‘an essential feature of the (...) social sciences’ with Axel Honneth’s call for a reinvigoration of the ‘sociologizing dimension’ of a critical theory tradition. It is argued that neither approach is fully adequate to the challenges set by neoliberalism. The final section of the article suggests that to demonstrate the efficacy of sociology’s contribution to a critique of neoliberalism we need to review the relationship between theoretical reflection and everyday thinking and permit the former to do more analytic/evaluative work. (shrink)
The paper reviews the extent to which main formulations in Habermas's recent major work, Between Facts and Norms, make ground against feminist objections to the Habermasian project. Although the later work does not tamper with the core project of Habermas's theory of modernity, the terms in which the procedural norms of democratic interaction are now conceived clarify the sympathetic relevance of Habermas's project to feminism's own vital concerns. There is reason to suppose Habermas's construction of the motivations that prompt and (...) guide struggles to achieve personal autonomy is rather too narrowly conceived to capture the range of impulses that inform contemporary feminism. Despite this, I suggest that there remain good reasons for supposing that the recent conception of the project opens up the possibility for a more positive stage in Habermas's dialogue with feminism. Key Words: aesthetic communication feminism Habermas private/public relations public sphere. (shrink)
Culture and Enlightenment are the two words that best characterise the essence of György Markus's career, in whose honour this book is published. Markus devoted the last twenty years of research towards a theory of cultural objectivations and their pragmatics, and the great depth of his knowledge of the history of culture and philosophy informs all his teaching and writing. The pursuit of Enlightenment ideals attains reflective self-consciousness in Markus' works; forged in the knowledge of its own historicity, of the (...) embeddedness of rationalities in culture and in an awareness of the paradoxes that cling to the conscious affirmation of ideals which are no longer self evident or beyond questioning. In taking up the challenge of these paradoxes, Markus spans the whole history of modern philosophy and culture with a matchless authority.This book draws together contributions from leading figures in contemporary philosophy, who are also friends, colleagues and former students of György Markus. The book is divided into two sections: the first presents critical assessments of various aspects of Markus' wide-ranging works; the second presents contributions in celebration of his influence and his wide interests. In their critical assessment of Markus' work and in the demonstration of his influence, the contributors hope to convey something of the breadth and something of the excitement of doing philosophy in the company of György Markus. (shrink)
Neoliberalism, we are told, has “seduced” feminism. What is meant is that the libertarian and democratic hopes that have scoped this radical social movement have been reconfigured and re-energised by neoliberal project that models all our freedoms upon the market. Misgivings about “seductions” and “betrayals” require that feminist theory adopts the role of the arbiter on goals and meanings and this puts strains upon its deep commitment to democratic epistemologies. The following paper finds that the leading theorist of feminism as (...) critique in a neoliberal age has failed to fully grasp the normative tension that is involved. Nancy Fraser fails to rethink the tasks of critique in terms that is sufficient to its role as arbiter on meanings. I suggest that this rethinking might be done without betraying the demands of a democratic epistemology if we reconstruct the emancipatory idealisations that underpin Fraser’s account of a democratic epistemology. While this rendering of feminism as critique retrieves a representation of feminist ideals that might unmask neoliberal distortions, it does so without betraying the responsiveness to self-interpreted needs that is also claimed by a critical and democratic feminist theory. (shrink)
The following discussion explores dimensions of feminism’s ongoing efforts to negotiate split normative claims. It attempts to push through a stalled debate within contemporary feminism by describing it as a mis-recognition of feminism’s double-sided normativity. It suggests that an ‘either/or’ construction of what feminism is about obscures the contribution that each can make to a clarification of the limitations and concealed entailments of the other. This investigation into the normative tensions within contemporary feminism will be illuminated in the second part (...) of the article with reference to Maria Markus’s reflections in her major essay ‘Decent Society and/or Civil Society?’ on the intertwined normativities that form the ‘utopian horizon’ of modern democracies. (shrink)
Completed shortly before her death in 2019, _Tragedy and Philosophy. A Parallel History_ is the sum of Agnes Heller’s reflections on European history and culture, seen through the prism of Europe’s two unique literary creations: tragedy and philosophy.
This chapter offers a diagnosis of misconstructions in anti‐humanist feminism and shows how a radical or critical humanism might help to theorize feminism's critical, emancipatory interests. It traces something of the troubled history of modern feminism's relationship with humanism. The chapter suggests that feminism's repudiation has been based on a narrow version; on one that confuses humanism with the rationalist agendas of modern science. It also considers how feminism has rebuilt itself by reinterpreting its critical agendas through the lens provided (...) by critical humanism. Todorov stresses that humanism is concerned with human ways of knowing. He advances three general propositions: that all humans belong to the same species, that they are inherently sociable, and finally that they are essentially indeterminate. Feminism's critical purposes is re‐fashioned and strengthened as it rearticulates its appropriations along with dynamic changes occurring within Enlightenment thinking. (shrink)
Neo-liberalism is not working but carries on regardless. A society and all of its institutions modelled on market logics and imperatives has produced system crisis and has lost widespread popular support. To account for neo-liberalism’s continuing grip, we must submit this project to ideology critique. Max Horkheimer offers some relevant insights into what this requires. Ideology critique needs to come up with a competing measure of progress, it has to demonstrate why this ought to be the standard and it needs (...) to expose the means by which this alternative is blocked. This article suggests that the normativity that underpins a social democratic project is best placed to prosecute these key tasks in a neo-liberal and historicizing age. It draws upon two major accounts of the ideological battlefield that has been staked out between neo-liberal and social democratic projects, looking to Wolfgang Streeck and Michel Foucault to identify the cultural resources that are available to, and the blocking strategies that have to be negotiated by, ideology critique in neo-liberal times. Finally it, turns to György Markus’s fine-grained and critical reading of the tasks of ideology critique outlined by Karl Marx. This section puts ideology critique into dialogue with a social democratic normativity in order to better consider the traction of ideology critique in a neo-liberal age. (shrink)
When the Global Financial Crisis hit, major political economists were able to boast that they had long warned that "crazy times" were coming. By contrast, leading sociologists seem to have been wrong footed. Totalizing narratives of a new "risk society", "second modernity" and the like appeared to have sacrificed the grounds for weighing up the costs and damages of contemporary capitalism. Made famous by Karl Polanyi, the concept of the embedded market suggests a differentiated diagnosis of our times that should (...) allow sociology to re-enter the discussion as a critic of an ideological attempt to block public discussions about losses and dam ages of contemporary capitalism. The following paper will explore several readings of this concept and will evaluate their capacity to revive sociology's critical powers. (shrink)
What can Western feminism hope to learn from women whose feminisms were originally shaped by experiences behind the ‘Iron Curtain’? In the first instance, an acute sensitivity to the importance of a politics that is responsive to needs. In its social democratic heyday, Western feminism had embraced a politics of contested need interpretation. Now, though, a neoliberal version has converted feminism into an attitudinal resource for the individual woman who is bent upon success. The takeover was made easy by the (...) poor self-understanding of social democratic feminism. My paper will compare Agnes Heller’s theory of ‘radical needs’ and Maria Márkus’s account of the ‘politicization of needs’ and apply both to the normative clarification of endangered feminist agendas. We look to the Budapest School women for more than just a way of conceptualizing the political radicalism of modern feminism as a social movement. Women need heroes too and a reflection upon the dignified and admirable lives of Agnes Heller and Maria Márkus has much to contribute to an ongoing search for a feminist ethic of the self. (shrink)
This article starts off by giving Habermas the opportunity to defend the ‘remnants of utopianism’ in his thinking that might seem to fly in the face of grim sociological realities. He wants to cut the ground from under a fashionable scepticism about our capacity to use a description of the unrealized potentials of the present as the basis for orienting ourselves to a desired future. This is to be done by persuading us that we have been looking in the wrong (...) place for an account of the utopian significance of modernizing achievements. The defeat of utopian energies thesis rests on a one-sided description of modernization processes that neglects their complex and ambiguous achievements and, in particular, ignores the legacy of democratic Enlightenment. Yet Habermas’s own estimation of the ambiguous legacies of cultural modernization also appears to be one-sided. The last part of the article finds that his argument with the end of utopian energies thesis rests on a narrow appreciation of the range of ways in which the potentials of cultural modernization have been described. There is, after all, a residual totalizing description of the role of the theorist in Habermas’s inability to concede the irreducible integrity of Romantic hopes for emancipated futures. (shrink)
Wisdom, Hegel famously said, only flies at dusk. For many, the evening of the liberal-democratic nation state appears to be descending in a globalizing world. This disturbing prospect invites urgent reflection on which of the potentials of this fading order ought to be carried forward. In this climate of review and reassessment, discussions that had seemed done with re-surface sharpened by fresh purpose. The following paper attempts to put new light on a once vigorous dispute between Habermas and his post-modern (...) critics over how best to weigh-up utopian energies at play in a liberal-democratic present. This was a contest distinguished by its all-or-nothing temper: either democratic Enlightenment with its commitment to rational solidarities or a Romantic enthusiasm for unreconciled particularities. I will argue that the stalemate between these two totalizing descriptions of the emancipatory potentials of modernizing processes needs to be unblocked and the debate put into motion once again. It will be argued that each offers a framework adequate to the description of only certain kinds of cultural needs. Alone, neither offers appropriate recognition of the ambiguous character of the distinctive hopes and expectations embedded in liberal democracies. (shrink)
Given powerful globalizing processes under way, the topic of how to conceptualize the modern public sphere is becoming increasingly urgent. Amidst the array of alternatives, the efforts of Jürgen Habermas to attempt to balance out the two main conceptual requirements of this idea, a universalistic construction of the principle of shared interests and a sensitivity to the fact of modern pluralism, might seem a particularly promising option. In order to reconstruct the main motivations of, and to determine a set of (...) criteria of assessment for, Habermas's ongoing attempt to outline a theory of the public sphere adequate to the conditions of the present, the article turns first to a discussion of the seminal formulations of The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. I suggest that the later writings are only partially successful in their attempt to redress some of the main conceptual difficulties that emerge in this early account. (shrink)
Already by the mid-1980s, Habermas supposed that our utopian energies had been used up. Today, when a neo-liberal 'realism' seems to be a virtually dominant ideology, the climate appears, if anything, yet more hostile to radical hopes. Even while he recognises the obstacles and is clear that we might never succeed in breaking through the 'Gordian knot', Habermas is not prepared to surrender to a proclaimed 'end of politics'. This paper traces some of the ways in which his recent works (...) theorise and attempt to balance twin legacies of a critical theory tradition. Habermas wants to mediate the radicalness of vision required by a critical theory with the perceived reasonableness of its standpoint that is also necessary if theory is to engage concrete actors. Many of his critics suppose that Habermas has not achieved the right balance and that his interest in the self-reforming potentials of liberal democracies weights reasonableness too highly. The following paper sets out to defend Habermas from some of these charges. However, ultimately it finds that his theory has identified the needs for autonomy that it seeks to critically connect up with too narrowly. This means that, to some extent, Habermas' critical theory continues to 'miss its mark'. (shrink)
As long as critique trails in the wake of progress, a more radical game-changing interest in its reconstruction remains blocked. This article will contrast the reforming approach adopted by Peter Wagner with Theodor Adorno’s attempt to reconstruct the normative foundations of historical progress. The intention here is to use the radicalism of Adorno’s critical recovery of this ideal in order to clarify and strengthen the social democratic utopianism that underlies Wagner’s reconstruction of progress. The final section of the article extends (...) the significance of this modelling of the dialectics between critique and progress, using it to guide a brief evaluation of some attempts to reclaim critique from its histories of complicity in repressive, Eurocentric versions of historical progress. (shrink)
The following paper considers the extent to which discourse ethics can adequately respond to Habermas' own call for normative justification for the expectation of tolerance. It concludes that discourse ethics is able to lend its services to the flagging fortunes of the idea of toleration, not by seeking to underscore this idea with rationally compelling argumentation,but by offering insights into the possibilities opened up to a life which accepts this principle.