Normative reconstruction and social memory

Honneth and Ricoeur

Terence Holden

pp. 157-181

Normative reconstruction is a form of immanent critique which judges society in terms of values which are already institutionalized and implicitly expressed across everyday forms of interaction. Honneth, for his part, reads the value of social freedom into the normative grammar of modern institutions and anticipates further advances towards its institutionalization. Many have voiced doubts over the extent to which the model of normative reconstruction which Honneth proposes is solidly anchored in social reality: at worst, it is argued, this reality is resistant to reconstruction in terms of the value of social freedom; at best, it is too susceptible to multiple readings to allow for such a reconstruction. I seek to respond to these charges, while also testing the reach of Ricoeur’s understanding of the philosophical anthropological idea of indebtedness to the past, by following up on Honneth’s appeal to a horizon of social memory in response to his own uncertainties over the viability of normative reconstruction. More generally, I seek to arrive at a better understanding of the capacity of memory to orientate social critique within a shifting historical landscape.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-020-09486-w

Full citation:

Holden, T. (2020). Normative reconstruction and social memory: Honneth and Ricoeur. Continental Philosophy Review 53 (2), pp. 157-181.

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