Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea (Berkeley Tanner by Axel Honneth

By Axel Honneth

With replies from Judith Butler, Raymond Geuss, and Jonathan Lear.

In the early twentieth century, Marxist conception was once enriched and rejuvenated via adopting the idea that of reification, brought via the Hungarian theorist Georg Lukács to spot and denounce the transformation of old tactics into ahistorical entities, human activities into issues that appeared a part of an immutable "second nature." For various purposes, either theoretical and useful, the hopes put in de-reification as a device of innovative emancipation proved useless. In those unique and resourceful essays, introduced because the Tanner Lectures on the collage of California, Berkeley in 2005, the celebrated third-generation Frankfurt institution thinker Axel Honneth makes an attempt to rescue the idea that of reification via recasting it by way of the philosophy of popularity he has been constructing during the last 20 years. 3 exclusive political and social theorists: Judith Butler, Raymond Geuss, and Jonathan Lear, reply with tough questions on the primary anthropological premise of his argument, the belief that sooner than cognition there's a basic adventure of intersubjective acceptance that could supply a normative usual through which present social kin should be judged sought after. Honneth listens conscientiously to their feedback and offers a strong protection of his place.

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Extra info for Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea (Berkeley Tanner Lectures)

Sample text

Apart from the fact that it is based on idealist premises, this first model is bound to fail because of its assertion that the existence of every kind of object and nonproduced entity constitutes a case of reification. It is only in the second alternative version of his theory that Lukács seems to take more seriously what he himself says about the derivative, merely “contemplative” mode of practices und attitudes that he classifies as cases of reification. For in this “unofficial” version, which is substantiated in many places in the text, he judges the defect of reifying agency against an ideal of praxis characterized by empathetic and existential engagement.

He asserts with Heidegger and Lukács that the Reification and Recognition . 43 The rationale that Dewey offers for his critique of the “spectator model” of knowledge,44 however, turns out to be considerably more direct and simple than that of Lukács or Heidegger. Without any culture-critical digressions, he attempts to demonstrate with arguments from epistemology and the philosophy of language that our emotionally saturated practical dealings with the world provide the basis for all rational knowledge.

Yet these anthropologically thoroughly plausible passages stand in an odd contrast to the statements in which Lukács, drawing on Hegel and Johann Fichte, attempts to summarize his vision of “true” human praxis. 29 Yet beneath these official, idealistic statements, there are also places in the text where Lukács expresses himself much more moderately. For example, he asserts that genuine, “true” praxis possesses precisely the same characteristics of empathetic engagement and interestedness that have been destroyed by the expansion of commodity exchange.

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