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Axel Honneth by Christopher Zurn

By Christopher Zurn

With his insightful and wide-ranging concept of popularity, Axel Honneth has decisively reshaped the Frankfurt institution culture of severe social concept. Combining insights from philosophy, sociology, psychology, historical past, political economic system, and cultural critique, Honneth’s paintings proposes not anything under an account of the ethical infrastructure of human sociality and its relation to the perils and promise of up to date social life.
 
This booklet presents an available assessment of Honneth’s major contributions throughout quite a few fields, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of his proposal. Christopher Zurn essentially explains Honneth’s multi-faceted conception of popularity and its relation to assorted themes: person id, morality, activist events, growth, social pathologies, capitalism, justice, freedom, and critique. In so doing, he locations Honneth’s thought in a extensive highbrow context, encompassing vintage social theorists similar to Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Dewey, Adorno and Habermas, in addition to modern tendencies in social thought and political philosophy. Treating the complete diversity of Honneth’s corpus, together with his significant new paintings on social freedom and democratic moral existence, this booklet is the main up to date advisor available.
 
Axel Honneth could be beneficial to scholars and students operating around the humanities and social sciences, in addition to somebody looking a transparent advisor to the paintings of 1 of the main influential theorists writing today.

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In Hobbes’s account, the individual is pictured as having a given set of beliefs about the natural and social world, a given set of more or less idiosyncratic desires, and the ability to rationally calculate which course of action will be most effective in realizing the individu­ als’ desires, given the state of the world and the likely dispositions and actions of other persons. Moral obligations and social order are then supposed to arise from the fact that each individual realizes that it will be in his or her own rational self-interest to contract away some discre­ tion and power in return for the benefits of a rule-governed set of obligations and a social order backed by the coercive threats of a cen­ tralized state with a monopoly on the legitimate use of power.

Modern legal rights on this general conception are a way of institution­ alizing the due regard individuals owe to one another as free and equal moral agents, a way of respecting the moral autonomy of each. Of particular importance, the respect involved here is not differential or graduated: it is not based upon a comparative evaluation of a person’s traits, capabilities, or achievements. Respect, rather, is for a person as an end-in-herself, as an irreplaceable source of intrinsic worth, just insofar as and because she is a moral agent.

In other words, Honneth shifts the central medium of intersubjective life from language to practical atti­ tudes of acknowledgment. 2 Hegel’s basic paradigm is the struggle for rec­ ognition, within which individuals gain a sense of what and who they are only through comprehending and internalizing their interaction partner’s recognition of their own autonomous subjectivity. For Hegel, there are decisive differences between an intersubjectivist starting point and one focused around a fully formed subject capable of inde­ pendent thought and action, a starting point characteristic of modern philosophy beginning with Descartes and carrying through the ration­ alists and the empiricists and on to Kant’s transcendental project.

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