Freedom's Semblance and Actuality from Hegel to Contemporary Critical Theory
by Todd Hedrick
(Oxford University Press, 2019)
The critical theory tradition has, since its inception, sought to distinguish its perspective on society by maintaining that persons have a deep-seated interest in the free development of their personality - an interest that can only be realized in and through the rational organization of society, but which is systematically stymied by existing society. And yet tradition has struggled to specify this emancipatory interest in a way that is neither excessively utopian nor accommodating to existing society. Despite the fact that Hegel's concept of reconciliation is normally thought to run aground on the latter horn of this dilemma, this book argues that reconciliation is the best available conceptualization of emancipatory interest. Todd Hedrick presents Hegel's idea of freedom as something actualized in individuals' lives through their reconciliation with how society shapes their roles, prospects, and sense of self; it presents reconciliation as less a matter of philosophical cognition, and more of inclusion in a responsive, transparent political process. Hedrick further introduces the concept of reification, which - through its development in Marx and Lukács, through Horkheimer and Adorno - substantiates an increasingly cogent critique of reconciliation as something unachievable within the framework of modern society, as social forces that shape our identities and life prospects come to appear natural, as part of the way things just are.
Giving equal weight to psychoanalysis and legal theory, this work critically appraises the writings of Rawls, Honneth, and Habermas as efforts to spell out a reconciliation more democratic and inclusive than Hegel's, yet still sensitive to the reifying effects of legal systems that have become autonomous and anonymous.
1. Reconciling Individuality and Sociality in Hegel's Philosophy of Right
2. Totality Fractured, Reconciliation Deferred: From Marx to Lukács, to Horkheimer and Adorno
3. Rawls' Liberal Right Hegelianism
4. Actualizing Social Freedom: Normative Reconstruction and Psychoanalysis in Honneth
5. Reification and Reconciliation in Habermas' Theory of Law and Democracy
Todd Hedrick is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University. He is the author of "Rawls and Habermas: Reason, Pluralism, and the Claims of Political Philosophy" (Stanford University Press, 2010).
See also three related papers by Todd Hedrick:
* "Democratic Constitutionalism as Mediation: The Decline and Recovery of an Idea in Critical Social Theory" (2012).
* "Reifying and Reconciling Class Conflict: From Hegel’s Estates to Habermas’ Interchange Roles" (2013).
* "Reification In and Through Law: Elements of a Theory in Marx, Lukács, and Honneth" (2014).