The failure of the recognition paradigm in critical theory
I argue in this paper that the theory of recognition cannot serve as a paradigm for a critical theory of society. I defend two theses. First, that it is unable to deal with the dynamics and effects of social power in any meaningful way. Specifically, it is unable to deal with what I see to be as the core of critical theory as a tradition of thought, what I call "constitutive power" or that kind of power that shapes and orients the subjectivity of persons. Second, it rests on a flawed theory of the social as intersubjective practices and not as structural and normative-based systems of functional integration. This derives from its insistence on the pragmatist ideas that essentially shred society of its structural-functional features and reduce it to its intersubjective practices. The problem with the pragmatist thesis, however, is that it is both insensitive to issues of power and domination and also can inculcate conformity to the prevailing reality. By shutting Marx out of his revisionism of critical theory, Honneth therefore ends up defanging it as a system of ideas.
Thompson, M. (2019)., The failure of the recognition paradigm in critical theory, in V. Schmitz (ed.), Axel Honneth and the critical theory of recognition, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 243-272.
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