Pathologies of Reason: On the Legacy of Critical Theory

Pathologies of Reason: On the Legacy of Critical Theory

by Axel Honneth
     
 

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Axel Honneth has been instrumental in advancing the work of the Frankfurt School of critical theorists, rebuilding their effort to combine radical social and political analysis with rigorous philosophical inquiry. These eleven essays published over the past five years reclaim the relevant themes of the Frankfurt School, which counted Theodor W. Adorno, Max

Overview

Axel Honneth has been instrumental in advancing the work of the Frankfurt School of critical theorists, rebuilding their effort to combine radical social and political analysis with rigorous philosophical inquiry. These eleven essays published over the past five years reclaim the relevant themes of the Frankfurt School, which counted Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Jürgen Habermas, Franz Neumann, and Albrecht Wellmer as members. They also engage with Kant, Freud, Alexander Mitscherlich, and Michael Walzer, whose work on morality, history, democracy, and individuality intersects with the Frankfurt School's core concerns.

Collected here for the first time in English, Honneth's essays pursue the unifying themes and theses that support the methodologies and thematics of critical social theory, and they address the possibilities of continuing this tradition through radically changed theoretical and social conditions. According to Honneth, there is a unity that underlies critical theory's multiple approaches: the way in which reason is both distorted and furthered in contemporary capitalist society. And while much is dead in the social and psychological doctrines of critical social theory, its central inquiries remain vitally relevant.

Is social progress still possible after the horrors of the twentieth century? Does capitalism deform reason and, if so, in what respects? Can we justify the relationship between law and violence in secular terms, or is it inextricably bound to divine justice? How can we be free when we're subject to socialization in a highly complex and in many respects unfree society? For Honneth, suffering and moral struggle are departure points for a new "reconstructive" form of social criticism, one that is based solidly in the empirically grounded, interdisciplinary approach of the Frankfurt School.

Editorial Reviews

Studies in Social Justice - Ronjon Paul Datta
I highly recommend it to all those interested in social justice. It offers a sophisticated, exceptionally well-crafted answer to a highly pertinent question: what social scientific criteria are there for making normative judgements about why and how Western civilization should change?

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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
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Studies in Social Justice
I highly recommend it to all those interested in social justice. It offers a sophisticated, exceptionally well-crafted answer to a highly pertinent question: what social scientific criteria are there for making normative judgements about why and how Western civilization should change?

— Ronjon Paul Datta

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231518376
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
07/06/2009
Series:
New Directions in Critical Theory
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
236
File size:
16 MB
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What People are saying about this

Kenneth Baynes
These essays reflect a deep familiarity with each individual author while also serving to advance the particular approach characterizing Axel Honneth's work: a focus on the theme of suffering and moral struggle as the point of departure for a more ambitious, 'reconstructive' form of social criticism. As such, this volume makes a very significant contribution to the continuing relevance of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School for contemporary forms of social criticism.

Christopher F. Zurn
This volume is a significant contribution to the debates over the history of the Frankfurt School and the contemporary relevance of critical social theory. Axel Honneth's work provides a subtle reading of history that is less concerned with putting its products in their place—though he does do that in an exemplary fashion—than in highlighting what is living and vibrant in those products for contemporary thought.

Meet the Author

Axel Honneth is professor of philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt and director of the Institute for Social Research. He is the author of The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts, Philosophical Interventions in the Unfinished Project of Enlightenment, The Critique of Power: Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory, and Communicative Action: Essays on Jürgen Habermas's "The Theory of Communicative Action."

James Ingram is an assistant professor of political science at McMaster University. He has translated works by Reinhart Koselleck, Christoph Menke, Hauke Brunkhorst, Jacques Derrida, and Étienne Balibar, among others.

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