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Honneth on Social Pathologies: A Critique

Freyenhagen, Fabian (2015) 'Honneth on Social Pathologies: A Critique.' Critical Horizons, 16 (2). pp. 131-152. ISSN 1440-9917

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Over the last two decades, Axel Honneth has written extensively on the notion of social pathology. He has presented it as a distinctive critical resource of Frankfurt School Critical Theory, in which tradition he places his own work; and as an alternative to the mainstream liberal approaches in political philosophy. In this paper, I review the developments in Honneth's writing about this notion and offer an immanent critique, with a particular focus on his recent major work Freedom's Right. Both his early context-transcendent approach and his more recent immanent approach are found wanting, and his increasing reformism is exposed and criticized. The central distinction in Freedom's Right between social pathologies and misdevelopments is also shown to be unworkable. In addition, I demonstrate that Zurn's influential proposal to characterize the phenomena Honneth identified as social pathologies in terms of a cognitive disconnect does not fit (with Zurn's own description of) these phenomena. While some such phenomena, like what Honneth describes as “Organized Self-Realization,” call out for conceptualization in terms of the notion of social pathology, an alternative characterization of this notion is necessary.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Axel Honneth, Christopher Zurn, social pathology, misdevelopments, Critical Theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2015 13:23
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:44

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