Neal Harris
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Distorted by recognition
in Critical theory and social pathology
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In this chapter, I subject Axel Honneth’s critical theory of recognition to an extended immanent critique. I argue that Honneth’s vision of critical theory fails on its own terms for social-theoretical, philosophical, and political reasons. The theory of power which the recognition paradigm depends upon is shown to be untenable. The monistic social-theoretical perspective Honneth supports is shown to obscure central social pathologies and impede critique. The political commitments of Honneth’s method are shown to be opposed to the founding aims of a critical theory of society, and the real-world impacts of a recognition politics are shown to be more amenable to neoliberal co-option than his supporters admit.

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