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Repressed Materiality: Retrieving The Materialism In Axel Honneth’s Theory Of Recognition

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Chapter Summary

This paper attempts to accomplish two related tasks: a genealogical, exegetical one and a programmatic one. Honneth believed that historical materialism could overcome its conceptual shortcomings and the outdated aspect of some of its diagnoses by returning to its anthropological basis. In short, the beginnings of the theory of recognition lie in the assumption that historical materialism could be salvaged if it was re-grounded in anthropological materialism. The importance of anthropological materialism in Honneth's early writings was so great that, against all other materialist scholars of the time, including the most Feuerbachian of them, Alfred Schmidt, Honneth inverted the relationship between Marx and Feuerbach, and bemoaned the theoretical loss from the latter to the former. The paper calls on critical social theory to reintegrate the dimension of materiality that it had so well highlighted in its original departure from the founder of its own tradition.

Keywords: anthropological materialism; historical materialism; recognition theory



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