Social Pathology & Postmetaphysical Thinking
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Social Pathology & Postmetaphysical Thinking

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Presented at the 6th International Critical Theory Conference, John Felice Rome Center, Loyola University, Rome

Presented at the 6th International Critical Theory Conference, John Felice Rome Center, Loyola University, Rome

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  • Does this also mean that we should give up on the idea of social pathology altogether? Is this tantamount to giving up on critical theory?

Social Pathology & Postmetaphysical Thinking Social Pathology & Postmetaphysical Thinking Presentation Transcript

  • Social Pathology and‘PostmetaphysicalThinking’Robert Farrow6th International Critical Theory Conference, The John Felice RomeCenter of Loyola University Chicago in Rome
  • Main claims of this presentation• The notion of ‘social pathology’ is undertheorised in the Frankfurttradition• We must either be realists about social pathologies or critical theory isnot methodologically distinct• To be realists about social pathologies we require a social teleology• Such a teleology cannot be provided within the remit of‘postmetaphysical thinking’ without making room for a particular kindof philosophical judgement
  • Structure• I. The role of social pathology in contemporary critical theory• II. Analysis of the concept• III. Postmetaphysical Teleology• IV. Judgements about the Teleological/Pathological
  • I. Social Pathology in Critical Theory• Methodological construct used by Frankfurt School• NB. Phrase rarely (if ever) used by first generation• Distinct from ethical, social, political criticism• Draws together sociological and philosophical aspects
  • Habermas (1984:333)
  • Typology of Social PathologiesCulture Society PersonCulturalReproductionLoss of MeaningWithdrawal ofLegitimationCrisis in Orientationand EducationRationality ofKnowledgeSocial IntegrationUnsettling ofCollective IdentityAnomie AlienationSolidarity ofMembersSocialization Rupture of TraditionWithdrawal ofMotivationPsychopathologiesPersonalResponsibilityHabermas (1987:143)
  • Mode of recognition emotional support cognitive respect social esteemDimension of Personality needs and emotions moral responsibility traits and abilitiesForms of recognitionprimary relationships (love,friendship)legal relations (rights)community of values(solidarity)Developmental potential -generalization,de-formalizationindividualization,equalizationPractical relation-to-self basic self confidence self-respect self-esteemForms of disrespect abuse and rape denial of rights, exclusion denigration, insultThreatened component ofpersonalityphysical integrity social integrity ‘honour’, dignityThe structure of relations of recognition (Honneth, 1996:129)
  • “Capitalism is to be understood as a pathology, and notmerely social injustice”Honneth (2007:14)“The historical past should be understood as a process ofdevelopment whose pathological deformation bycapitalism may be overcome”Honneth (1996:337)
  • II. Analysis of the concept• Social pathology as metaphor– C19th Sociology– Historically rooted in ‘body politic’ (C. 14-15th)– An (incredibly) brief historical survey
  • The Open Universitys Institute of Educational TechnologyAvis aus roys. France, probably Paris, 1347-1350.
  • The Open Universitys Institute of Educational TechnologyHobbes, Leviathan (1651)
  • “For if Government is, so to speak, the outward SKIN of the BodyPolitic, holding the whole together and protecting it; and all yourCraft-Guilds, and Associations for Industry, of hand or of head, arethe Fleshly Clothes, the muscular and osseous Tissues (lyingunder such SKIN), hereby Society stands and works;--then isReligion the inmost Pericardial and Nervous Tissue, whichministers Life and warm Circulation to the whole. Without whichPericardial Tissue the Bones and Muscles (of Industry) were inert,or animated only by a Galvanic vitality; the SKIN would become ashrivelled pelt, or fast-rotting rawhide; and Society itself a deadcarcass,--deserving to be buried.”Thomas Carlyle (1836) Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of HerrTeufelsdrockh, Bk. 3, Ch.2.
  • Sociologists who refer to ‘social pathologies’Bird (1862); Smith (1911); Queen (1925); Day (1934);Schuman (1936); Wooton (1963); Rosenberg et al. (1964);Pietrowski (2006); and Henry (2008).The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  • Things to note about medical analogy1. Pathologists are realists about pathologies2. Teleology is an essential part of the process3. Collapse of fact/value distinction
  • II. Analysis of the concept• Medical analogy– Realism about pathology– Teleology as essential feature• Realism about social pathologies means that they are notsimply theoretical tools or metaphors
  • Either…1.‘Social pathology’ is a useful fiction but as a result criticaltheory is not distinct from other forms of social critiqueor2.Critical theorists are obliged to be realists about socialpathologies
  • III. Postmetaphysical Teleology• Aristotle: metaphysical biology• Objections• Scepticism of neo-Aristotelians
  • “[MacIntyre] gets into problems with his recourse to the Aristotelianconcept of praxis as soon as he attempts to extract a universal corefrom the unavoidable pluralism of equally legitimate forms of lifewhich is typical of modernity. Where does he derive [the]metaphysical pre-eminence of the polis as the model form of life,where human beings [can] realize the telos of the good life? [In]modernity, the plurality of individual life-projects and collective lifeforms cannot be prejudged philosophically...”Habermas (interview) in Dews (ed.) (1992:348)[my emphasis]
  • III. Postmetaphysical Teleology• Postmetaphysical paradigm (Habermas)–Communicative rationality–Fallibilism–Historicization, situatedness–Pragmatism–Proceduralism
  • Habermas: ‘Species Ethics’“Where we lack compelling moral reasons we have to letourselves be guided by the signposts set up by the ethicsof the species.” (Habermas, 2003:71)•Subversion of procedural/communicative rationalityThe Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  • Honneth: Recognition & Ethical Life• Three forms of recognition / misrecognition• Love / Abuse• Respect / Denial of Rights• Esteem / Denigration• The ‘Neo-Nazi’ objectionThe Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  • IV. (Philosophical) Judgements about the good• Habermas (1982) says of judgments of natural purpose: “suchattempts would have to lead back to metaphysics, and this behindthe levels of learning reached in the modern age into areenchanted world.”• McCarthy: defence of judgements about natural good• Kant’s defence of teleology in Critique of Judgement•A Caveat
  • Summary• There is a tension between two commitments in contemporarycritical theory• Realism about social pathologies• ‘Postmetaphysical’ thinking• One could reject the idea that we need such realism• Another way out of the problem is to defend a particular kind ofphilosophical judgments about the social good which wouldrequire a reinvigorated naturalismThe Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  • “Reason cannot become transparent to itself as long asmen act as members of an organism which lacks reason.Organism as a naturally developing and declining unitycannot be a sort of model for society, but only a form ofdeadened existence from which society must emancipateitself.”Max Horkheimer, “Traditional and Critical Theory”
  • rob.farrow@open.ac.ukThe Open UniversityWalton HallMilton KeynesMK7 6AAwww.open.ac.uk/iethttp://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/openminded/philosopher1978
  • References• Aristotle (1946) Politics. Translated by Ernest Barker. Oxford: Oxford University Press.• Bird, John. Contributions to Social Pathology. London: Ward and Lock, 1862.• Carlyle, T. (1896) Sartor Resartus. Boston, Mass.: Ginn and Company• Day, Herbert Lamson, Social Pathology in China. Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1934.• Dews, P. (ed.) (1994) Habermas: Autonomy and Solidarity. London: Verso• Foot, P. (1978) Virtues and Vices. Berkeley: University of California Press.• Fraser, N., and Honneth, A. (2003) Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-PhilosophicalExchange. Translated by Joel Golb, James Ingram and Christiane Wilke. London and New York:Verso.• Freundlieb, Dieter (2000). “Rethinking Critical Theory: Weaknesses and New Directions” inConstellations 7, no. 1. 80-99.• Habermas, J. (1982) “A Reply to My Critics” in Habermas: Critical Debates, edited by J. B.Thomson and D. Held, 218-83. London: Macmillan• Habermas, J. (1984) The Theory of Communicative Action Vol. 1: Reason and the Rationalizationof Society. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • References• Habermas, J. (1987) The Theory of Communicative Action Vol. 2: Lifeworld and System: ACritique of Functionalist Reason. Cambridge: Polity Press.• Habermas, J. (2003) The Future of Human Nature. Oxford: Polity Press• Henry, Sally. Bullying as a Social Pathology: A Peer Group Analysis. Lampeter: Edwin MellenPress, 2008• Hobbes, T. (1651) Leviathan. Oxford : Clarendon Press• Honneth, A. (1994) “The Social Dynamics of Disrespect: Situating Critical Theory Today” inHabermas: A Critical Reader, edited by Peter Dews, pp.320-37. Oxford: Blackwell.• Honneth, A. (1999) “Pathologies of the Social: The Past and Present of Social Philosophy” in TheHandbook of Critical Theory, edited by David Rasmussen, Oxford: Blackwell. 369-398• Honneth, A. (2004) “A Social Pathology of Reason” in The Cambridge Companion to CriticalTheory, edited by Fred Rush. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 336-60• Honneth, A. (2007) Disrespect: The Normative Foundations of Critical Theory. Cambridge: PolityPress.• Honneth, A. (2009) Pathologies of Reason: On the Legacy of Critical Theory. Translated by JamesIngram et al. New York: Columbia University Press
  • References• Horkheimer, M. (1936) “Traditional and Critical Theory” in Critical Theory, edited by M. J. OConnell.New York: Herder & Herder 188-214• Hurtshouse, R. (1987) Beginning Lives. Oxford: Blackwell.• Kant, I. (1987) Critique of Judgement. Translated by Werner S. Pluhar. Indianapolis & Cambridge:Hackett Publishing Company.• Kant, I. (1929(Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Norman Kemp Smith. London: Macmillan• MacIntyre, A. (1982) After Virtue. London: Duckworth.• McCarthy, T. (1991) Ideals and Illusions: On Reconstruction and Deconstruction in ContemporaryCritical Theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press• Queen, Stuart Alfred. Social Pathology. New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1925.• Rosenberg, Bernard, and et al. Mass Society in Crisis: Social Problems and Social Pathology.London: Collier-Macmillan, 1964.• Schuman, Frederick L. Hitler and the Nazi Dictatorship: a study of social pathology and the politicsof fascism. s.l. : Robert Hale and Co, 1936.
  • References• Horkheimer, M. (1936) “Traditional and Critical Theory” in Critical Theory, edited by M. J. OConnell.New York: Herder & Herder 188-214• Hurtshouse, R. (1987) Beginning Lives. Oxford: Blackwell.• Kant, I. (1987) Critique of Judgement. Translated by Werner S. Pluhar. Indianapolis & Cambridge:Hackett Publishing Company.• Kant, I. (1929(Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Norman Kemp Smith. London: Macmillan• MacIntyre, A. (1982) After Virtue. London: Duckworth.• McCarthy, T. (1991) Ideals and Illusions: On Reconstruction and Deconstruction in ContemporaryCritical Theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press• Queen, Stuart Alfred. Social Pathology. New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1925.• Rosenberg, Bernard, and et al. Mass Society in Crisis: Social Problems and Social Pathology.London: Collier-Macmillan, 1964.• Schuman, Frederick L. Hitler and the Nazi Dictatorship: a study of social pathology and the politicsof fascism. s.l. : Robert Hale and Co, 1936.
  • References• Smith, Samuel George. Social Pathology. New York: Macmillan, 1911.• Wootton, Barbara. Social Science and Social Pathology. s.l.: Allen and Unwin, 1963.• Zurn, C. (2000) “Anthropology and Normativity: A Critique of Axel Honneth’s ‘Formal Conception ofan Ethical Life’” in Philosophy and Social Criticism 26, no. 1 (2000): 115-24.