Philosophy and Society

Call for Papers

Deadline: 15. August 2017


Axel Honneth’s Recent Works: The Theory of Recognition Between Psychoanalysis and Normative Reconstruction of Modernity


Note about the Journal: Philosophy and Society is a peer reviewed, open access academic journal established in 1987 and published by the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade. The journal strives to cover and present key tendencies of contemporary theory and, at the same time, to encourage research in studies of philosophy and the humanities. Philosophy and Society has always welcomed contributions from established international academics: from the first issue, which contained the articles of A. Wellmer and R. Bernstin, to last volumes with contributions from T. Scanlon, O. Höffe, J.L. Marion, J. Butler, and other renowned philosophers. Papers by such prominent authors as K. Westphal, R. Geuss, H. Brunkhorst, C. Krijnen, P. Cobben, K. Vieweg, J.M. Trigeaud, M. Kettner and others will figure in Volume 28 (2017).

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In the aftermath of his seminal work The Struggle for Recognition, Honneth’s mature social-philosophical perspective has evolved along several distinct lines of theoretical elaboration. Honneth’s recent works can roughly be divided into three main categories: those which attempt to solidify the normative foundations of the theory of recognition (such as Freedom’s Right, The Idea of Socialism, Vivisektionen eines Zeitalters and Disrespect: The Normative Foundations of Critical Theory); the works in which Honneth engages in explicit social critique in the form of a ‘diagnosis’ of contemporary ‘social pathologies’ (Reification, or the essays ‘Paradoxes of Capitalist Modernization’ and ‘Organized Self-Realization’); and those in which Honneth’s primary aim is to situate his own perspective more firmly within the Frankfurt School’s tradition of ‘reconstructive’ social critique (essays in Pathologies of Reason). Within all three lines of Honneth’s recent work, a fundamental tension can be identified between two different logics of grounding critique. We would like to explore this tension in more detail in this volume, since, in our opinion, it not only features in the work of Honneth as a leading critical theorist, but lies at the core of contemporary critical theory as a whole, as it simultaneously strives to meet the standard of post-metaphysical thought and identify deep-lying structures of domination and forms of social pathology by means of substantive social-philosophical concepts.

On the one hand, in some of Honneth’s recent essays collected in The I in We and Unsichtbarkeit (Invisibility) such as ‘The Work of Negativity’ and ‘Facets of the Pre-Social Self’, and particularly in the essay ‘Grounding Recognition’, Honneth formulates the concept of ‘elementary’ or ‘affective’ recognition, which replaces his earlier ‘normative’ concept of recognition based on the works of early Hegel and George Herbert Mead. Honneth’s new conceptualization of recognition is now more firmly grounded in a theory of the human subject, and even more difficult than before to reconcile with the imperative of post-metaphysical thought that Honneth has taken over from Jürgen Habermas. On the other hand, another central concern of Honneth’s recent works such as The Idea of Socialism, Pathologies of Individual Freedom and Freedom’s Right has been a reappropriation of the late Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. On the grounds of Hegel’s social philosophy, Honneth has formulated the concept of ‘social freedom’ as the normative foundation of critique, a concept that is methodologically anchored in what Honneth terms the ‘normative reconstruction’ of the three constitutive spheres of society (the private, the economic and the political). Such reconstruction should uncover the ‘core values’ underlying each of these spheres and judge the extent to which they have been realized within the institutional life of the present-day developed societies.

There is, arguably, a rather strong internal tension between these two logics of grounding critique in Honneth’s recent works – the psychoanalytic and the normative-reconstructive. While the psychoanalytic concept of ‘elementary recognition’ exemplifies Honneth’s attempt to anchor critique in a trans-contextual account of the human subject, the line of work based on mature Hegel (The Idea of Socialism, Freedom’s Right) seems to have the opposite goal: to free Honneth’s perspective from essentialist philosophical anthropology and the perils of epistemological authoritarianism through a historicization of the normative foundations of critique. The two logics of grounding critique can be seen as mutually divergent and somewhat difficult to reconcile within a single theoretical system.

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We invite authors to submit papers that deal with different dimensions of Honneth’s recent works, that critically engage with his ‘diagnosis’ of contemporary social pathologies, his reliance on object-relations psychoanalysis, as well as his controversial reconstructions of both the conceptual (The Idea of Socialism) and social history of modernity (Freedom’s Right). We are especially interested in contributions that, in one way or another, focus on the above mentioned tension between the two logics of grounding social critique in Honneth’s recent works. We welcome papers in English and German.

All selected articles  are  subject  to  double-blind selection by at least two reviewers. Only previously unpublished works are considered. Papers must have fewer than 60.000 characters, accompanied by a 100-250 word abstract with up to 10 key words, and prepared for blind review. For further inquiry please consult the Instructions for authors:

Articles should be sent to: