Axel Honneth is one of the most influential social and political philosophers in contemporary German political thought and one of the central figures of the third generation of the Frankfurt School. Honneth’s philosophical project presents at once a solution to a problem that has beset Frankfurt School Critical Theory from the first generation onwards, and offers a re-conceptualisation of social philosophy and its methodology in general. Honneth’s work presents a viable alternative to mainstream (especially Rawlsian) political philosophy by taking on challenges mainstream theories tend to avoid.
This book provides one of the first substantial critical assessments of Honneth’s achievements so far. Dagmar Wilhelm locates Honneth in critical theory and mainstream political theory debates and offers a detailed exploration of his account of social philosophy, methodology, social pathology, recognition, and humiliation. The book also includes an in-depth discussion of Honneth’s critique of capitalism and programme for the new left and an assessment of the future of the project of the Frankfurt School in light of Honneth’s approach.
Introduction / 1. Honneth and the History of the Frankfurt School / 2. A Method for Social Critique / 3. Recognition Theory / 4. Recognition and the Market / 5. Reification and Social Pathologies / 6. A New Programme for the Left: Re-appropriating Marx and Hegel / 7. Recognition Theory Meets Rawls / 8. Postmodernist Critiques / 9. Conclusion: The Future of Recognition Theory / Bibliography / Index
A particularly lucid study of Axel Honneth’s ambitious attempt at rejuvenating Frankfurt School Critical Theory. The author describes with great clarity the efficient theoretical tools the recognition paradigm provides for addressing the most important social and political issues of our time.
Dagmar Wilhelm presents an acute and far-reaching reading of an acute and far-reaching thinker. The book contributes to a new understanding of Axel Honneth’s oeuvre and treats it in an original and stimulating manner. Wilhelm gives equal attention to Honneth as a theorist of justice and a theorist of social pathologies, and relates Freedom’s Right and The Idea of Socialism to Honneth’s earlier work in a most illuminating way.
Dagmar Wilhelm is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of the West of England.