Colin Wysman: Internal Injuries: Some Further Concerns with Intercultural and Transhistorical Criti

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Internal Injuries: Some Further Concerns with Intercultural and Transhistorical Critique

Colin Wysman

In the Fall 2008 issue of Lyceum, Jordan Bartol illuminates some problems with Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition, ultimately concluding that it is insufficient for cross-cultural critique. In this paper, I first examine the differences between internal and external critique as described by Antti Kauppinen, and where both he and Honneth think recognition theory fits. I then examine Honneth’s conceptions of self-realization and autonomy and argue that despite his attempts as establishing them as a universally held normative core for social critique, they are both individually and cultural relativistic. Furthermore, in an important departure from Bartol’s argument, I suggest that it is not the question of progressive priority that we need to ask of Honneth’s notion of historical moral progress. Rather, I contend that we must ask whether or not historical moral progress can be used for internal critique at all, since, as I argue, it points to external principles. Finally, I conclude that Honneth has insufficiently justified his theory of recognition as universalist internal critique and that at best, he advocates a mixed stance, composed of both internal and external methods of critique.

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