"Though this be madness, yet there is method in it"In the academic year 2001-2002, the Department of Philosophy offers several courses in English on the subject of ethics and legal philosophy. The course described on this page can count both as a course in ethics, and as a course in legal philosophy. For other courses in ethics that are taught in English, see the guide on Courses in English, or contact the international relations office ICIR.
- Shakespeare, Hamlet, II, ii, 205
Recognition is a fundamental structures
in social and moral life. It provides one of the most convincing answers
to the question: what is it that we desire to get from others? Do we want
to be right, or famous, or rich, or powerful? No, what we basically want
is to be recognized. In other words, we desire others to see us as a worthy
opponent. This basic structure of human desire has perceptively been described
two centuries ago by Hegel, in his famous ‘master/slave’ dialectic – which
has subsequently become a crucial reference point in much of 20th century
(‘continental’) philosophy. Recently, Axel Honneth has shown how the notion
of recognition can fruitfully be used in social philosophy, modifying and
extending Jürgen Habermas’s theory of communicative action by reformulating
it in terms derived from social psychology and philosophical anthropology.
Honneth thus distinguishes three basic levels of recognition, and three
corresponding ‘relations to self’: self-confidence, on the level of intimate
relations; self-respect, on the level of fundamental legal relations; and
self-esteem, on the level of social and cultural relations.
The core of the course will consist of reading and discussing Honneth’s book ‘Struggle for recognition’. In addition, some ‘classical’ texts by and on Hegel will be discussed, but primarily we will read work by contemporary authors work that relate to and build on Honneth’s work, such as Charles Taylor, Jessica Benjamin, Nancy Fraser, Maria Pia Lara, Jonathan Lear, and Alessandro Ferrara. Themes will include social philosophy, ethics, political theory, feminism, psychoanalysis, and cultural studies.
Seminar. Student participation is required and stimulated.
Axel Honneth, The struggle for recognition. MIT press 1995. Or German original: Kampf um Anerkennung, Suhrkamp 1991. Spanish translation also available.
An overview of the literature and the structure of the course is available.
For more info, do not hesitate to contact
Dr Gijs van Oenen, Department of Philosophy, Oostmaaslaan 950 (5 minutes from Woudestein campus),
tel. +31.10.4088999 or +31.20.6860948.