Advertisement

Reifying Reification: A Critique of Axel Honneth’s Theory of Reification

  • Konstantinos Kavoulakos
Chapter
Part of the Political Philosophy and Public Purpose book series (POPHPUPU)

Abstract

In his Reification. A New Look at an Old Idea (2008), Axel Honneth attempts to positively draw on Lukács’s theory of reification and to reinterpret it in the frame of the theory of recognition he has been developing since the beginning of the 1990s. As the content of the book is very rich, in this chapter I confine myself to dealing with two main questions: firstly, whether Honneth’s interpretation of Lukács is plausible and, secondly, to what extend Lukács’s critical theory can be helpful in pointing out the limits of Honneth’s theory of reification itself. In order to answer the first question, I examine Honneth’s critique of what he calls Lukács’s “official version” of the theory of reification, which he connects with the idealist philosophy of identity. Then I turn to Honneth’s interpretation of the “unofficial version” of Lukács’s concept of reification which he reconstructs in recognition-theoretical terms as the “forgetfulness of recognition.” Finally, I proceed to answer the above question by deploying Lukács’s theory to summarize some of the dispersed critiques of Honneth’s theory of reification that have been formulated in the relevant bibliography. From a Lukácsian point of view Honneth’s anthropological conceptualization of reification itself appears as reified.

Selected Bibliography

  1. Adorno, Theodor W. (1973) Negative Dialectics. Translated by E.B. Ashton. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  2. Adorno, Theodor W. (2011) Philosophie und Soziologie (1960). Nachgelassene Schriften. Edited by Dirk Braunstein. Vol. IV.6. Berlin: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  3. Arato, Andrew and Paul Breines (1979) The Young Lukács and the Origins of Western Marxism. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  4. Beiersdörfer, Kurt (1986) Max Weber und Georg Lukács. Über die Beziehung von verstehender Soziologie und westlichem Marxismus. Frankfurt and New York: Campus.Google Scholar
  5. Braunstein, Dirk (2011) Adornos Kritik der politischen Ökonomie. Bielefeld: Transcript.Google Scholar
  6. Cerutti, Furio (1970) “Hegel, Lukács, Korsch. Zum dialektischen Selbstverständnis des kritischen Marxismus.” In Oskar Negt (ed.) Aktualität und Folgen der Philosophie Hegels. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 195–210.Google Scholar
  7. Chari, Anita (2010) “Toward a Political Critique of Reification. Lukács, Honneth and the Aims of Critical Theory.” Philosophy and Social Criticism, vol. 36, no. 5: 587–606.Google Scholar
  8. Dannemann, Rüdiger (2008) “Verdinglichung, Entfremdung und Anerkennung. Zwischenüberlegungen zu den Bedingungen der Möglichkeit, eine radikale Gegenwartstheorie zu reformulieren.” In Christoph J. Bauer, Britta Caspers, Niklas Hebing, Werner Jung and Holger Wendt (eds.) Georg Lukács. Werk und Wirkung. Duisburg: Universitätsverlag Rhein-Ruhr, 91–107.Google Scholar
  9. Feenberg, Andrew (2011) “Rethinking Reification.” In Timothy Bewes and Timothy Hall (eds.) Georg Lukács: The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence. London and New York: Continuum, 101–120.Google Scholar
  10. Feenberg, Andrew (2014) The Philosophy of Praxis. Marx, Lukács, and the Frankfurt School. London and Brooklyn: Verso.Google Scholar
  11. Goldmann, Lucien (1966) “Die Verdinglichung.” In Lucien Goldmann, Dialektische Untersuchungen. Neuwied: Luchterhand, 71–120.Google Scholar
  12. Grondin, Jean (1988) “Reification from Lukács to Habermas.” In Tom Rockmore (ed.) Lukács Today. Essays in Marxist Philosophy. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 86–107.Google Scholar
  13. Habermas, Jürgen (1971) “Literaturbericht zur philosophischen Diskussion um Marx und den Marxismus (1957).” In Jürgen Habermas, Theorie und Praxis. Sozialphilosophische Studien. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 387–463.Google Scholar
  14. Habermas, Jürgen (1991) The Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 1 (Reason and the Rationalization of Society). Translated by Th. McCarthy. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hall, Timothy (2011a) “Returning to Lukács: Honneth’s Critical Reconstruction of Lukács’ Concepts of Reification and Praxis.” In Michael J. Thompson (ed.) Lukács Reconsidered. Critical Essays in Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics. London and New York: Continuum, 195–210.Google Scholar
  16. Hall, Timothy (2011b) “Justice and the Good Life in Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness”. In Timothy Bewes and Timothy Hall (eds.) Georg Lukács: The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence. Aesthetics, Politics, Literature. London and New York: Continuum, 121–137.Google Scholar
  17. Henning, Christoph (2012) “Von der Kritik warenförmiger Arbeit zur Apotheose der Marktgesellschaft.” In Hans Friese, Christian Lotz, Jakob Meier and Markus Wolf (eds.) Ding und Verdinglichung. Technik- und Sozialphilosophie nach Heidegger und der Kritischen Theorie. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 243–272.Google Scholar
  18. Honneth, Axel (1999) “Reflexionen über den Klassiker des philosophischen Marxismus und das Schattenreich der philosophischen Kultur.” Interview by Rüdiger Dannemann. Lukács 1998/99. Jahrbuch der Internationalen Georg-Lukács-Gesellschaft, vol. 3: 73–89.Google Scholar
  19. Honneth, Axel (2007) Disrespect. The Normative Foundations of Critical Theory. Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  20. Honneth, Axel (2008) Reification. A New Look at an Old Idea, ed. Martin Jay. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Honneth, Axel (2014) Freedom’s Right. The Social Foundations of Democratic Life. Translated by Joseph Ganahl. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  22. Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno (1985) “Diskussion über Dialektik (1939?).” In Max Horkheimer, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 12, ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, Frankfurt: Fischer, 526–541.Google Scholar
  23. Jaeggi, Rahel (1999) “Verdinglichung – ein aktueller Begriff?” Lukács 1998/99. Jahrbuch der Internationalen Georg-Lukács-Gesellschaft, vol. 3: 68–72.Google Scholar
  24. Jütten, Timo (2010) “What Is Reification? A Critique of Axel Honneth.” Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, vol. 53, no. 3: 235–256.Google Scholar
  25. Jütten, Timo (2011) “Verdinglichung und Freiheit.” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, vol. 59, no. 5: 717–730.Google Scholar
  26. Kavoulakos, Konstantinos (2011) “Back to History? Reinterpreting Lukács’ Early Marxist Work in Light of the Antinomies of Contemporary Critical Theory.” In Michael J. Thompson (ed.) Lukács Reconsidered. Critical Essays in Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics. London and New York: Continuum, 151–171.Google Scholar
  27. Kavoulakos, Konstantinos (2014) Ästhetizistische Kulturkritik und ethische Utopie. Georg Lukács’ Neukantianisches Frühwerk. Berlin and Boston: Akademie Verlag (De Gruyter).Google Scholar
  28. Kavoulakos, Konstantinos (forthcoming, 2018) Georg Lukács’s Philosophy of Praxis. From Neo-Kantianism to Marxism. London and New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  29. Kettner, Fabian (2002) “Die Theorie der Verdinglichung und die Verdinglichung der Theorie.” Lukács 2002. Jahrbuch der Internationalen Georg-Lukács-Gesellschaft, vol. 6: 97–114.Google Scholar
  30. Lukács, Georg (1971) History and Class Consciousness. Studies in Marxist Dialectics. Translated by Rodney Livingstone. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1973) Adventures of the Dialectic. Translated by Joseph Bien. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Neuhouser, Frederick (2006) “Axel Honneth: Verdinglichung.” Notre Dame. Philosophical Reviews (March 7). Accessed June 11, 2015. https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24979-verdinglichung/.
  33. Pippin, Robert (2014) “Reconstructivism: On Honneth’s Hegelianism.” Philosophy and Social Criticism, vol. 40, no. 8: 725–741.Google Scholar
  34. Quadflieg, Dirk (2011) “Zur Dialektik von Verdinglichung und Freiheit. Von Lukács zu Honneth – und zurück zu Hegel.” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, vol. 59, no. 5: 701–715.Google Scholar
  35. Stahl, Titus (2011) “Verdinglichung als Pathologie zweiter Ordnung.” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, vol. 59, no. 5: 731–746.Google Scholar
  36. Stahl, Titus (2012) “Verdinglichung und Herrschaft. Technikkritik als Kritik sozialer Praxis.” In Hans Friesen, Christian Lotz, Jakob Meier and Markus Wolf (eds.) Ding und Verdinglichung: Technik- und Sozialphilosophie nach Heidegger und der Kritischen Theorie. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 299–324.Google Scholar
  37. Strydom, Piet (2013) “Review Essay: Honneth’s Sociological Turn.” European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 16, no. 4: 530–542.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konstantinos Kavoulakos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Social StudiesUniversity of CreteRethymnoGreece

Personalised recommendations