Friday, April 09, 2010

New book by Honneth: The Pathologies of Individual Freedom

The Pathologies of Individual Freedom:
Hegel's Social Theory

by Axel Honneth

(Princeton University Press, March 2010)

96 pp.


This is a penetrating reinterpretation and defense of Hegel's social theory as an alternative to reigning liberal notions of social justice. The eminent German philosopher Axel Honneth rereads Hegel's "Philosophy of Right" to show how it diagnoses the pathologies of the overcommitment to individual freedom that Honneth says underlies the ideas of Rawls and Habermas alike. Honneth argues that Hegel's theory contains an account of the psychological damage caused by placing too much emphasis on personal and moral freedom. Although these freedoms are crucial to the achievement of justice, they are insufficient and in themselves leave people vulnerable to loneliness, emptiness, and depression. Hegel argues that people must also find their freedom or "self-realization" through shared projects. Such projects involve the three institutions of ethical life - family, civil society, and the state - and provide the arena of a crucial third kind of freedom, which Honneth calls "communicative" freedom. A society is just only if it gives all of its members sufficient and equal opportunity to realize communicative freedom as well as personal and moral freedom.


I: Hegel's Philosophy of Right as a Theory of Justice [pdf]
The Idea of Individual Freedom: Intersubjective Conditions of Autonomy
"Right" in the Philosophy of Right: Necessary Spheres of Self-Realization

II: The Connection between the Theory of Justice and the Diagnosis of the Age
Suffering from Indeterminacy: Pathologies of Individual Freedom
"Liberation" from Suffering: The Therapeutic Significance of "Ethical Life"

III: The Theory of Ethical Life as a Normative Theory of Modernity
Self-Realization and Recognition: Conditions of "Ethical Life"
The Over-Institutionalization of "Ethical Life": Problems of the Hegelian Approach

Axel Honneth is Professor of Social Philosophy at Goethe University and Director of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main.

No comments: