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Immanent Critique in Axel Honneth: From negative to normative reconstruction

Grant number: 17/19198-6
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): February 15, 2018
Effective date (End): April 14, 2018
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Ethics
Principal researcher:Nathalie de Almeida Bressiani
Grantee:Nathalie de Almeida Bressiani
Host: Rahel Simone Anna Jaeggi
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas (CCNH). Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC). Ministério da Educação (Brasil). Santo André , SP, Brazil
Research place: Humboldt University, Germany  
Associated research grant:14/11611-3 - Public sphere and reconstruction: on the constitution of a reconstructive paradigm within Critical Theory, AP.TEM


For those who follow Axel Honneth's work from the outset, The Right of Freedom can be interpreted as the result of an abandonment of his original project. Once central, the concept of recognition gives way to a conception of social freedom, the role of social conflicts is reduced, and the negative strategy of reconstruction, the phenomenology of the experience of disrespect, is replaced by a notion of normative reconstruction which focus on the normative structures of modern institutions. This alters not only what Honneth understands by immanent critique, but also its object and the method he uses to accomplish it. Given the importance and scope of these methodological changes, the main aim of this research is to understand them and to identify their causes and consequences. Continuing previous research on Honneth's theory of recognition and its reformulations during the 2000s, this research also aims to verify in what sense these methodological changes represent a rupture or an attempt to accomplish, in another way, objectives that accompany Honneth since his first texts. Among them, that of realizing an immanent critique of the capitalist economy and of overcoming critical theory's motivational and sociological deficits, by developing a non-functionalist theory of contemporary capitalist societies capable of explaining its normative dynamics. To achieve these aims, we will analyze not only The Right of Freedom and other texts published by Honneth in recent years, but also the work of some of his main critics and interlocutors such as Rahel Jaeggi, Emmanuel Renault and Christopher Zurn.