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Fellow Seminar

15 June 2017

Dr. Hristo Gyoshev will present his research proposal on the topic: "Grounding Recognition Anew: Challenges to Honneth's Recognition Paradigm and Possibilities of Empirical Support for the Critical Social Theory" on 15 June 2017 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS Conference Hall.

Abstract:

Since the early 1990s following the works of Charles Taylor and Axel Honneth there was a shift in social theory with which recognition became a key explanatory concept for social dynamics, for some even 'a keyword of our time'. In spite of the interpretative differences, the concept of recognition was considered to derive its ultimate conceptual origin from Hegel's master-slave dialectics, which could contribute to explanation of the basic normative structure of society and the potential for its transformation.

In his own view of recognition Honneth insists on the developmental connection between different consecutive stages of individuals' growth, beginning with the infant stage, on which then respect and esteem are built. This developmental view of recognition has two important implications. First, it points out universal natural mechanisms in the first developmental stage of persons, upon which the later stages and also social structures significantly depend. Second, by means of this model Honneth joins during the 1990s the long standing tradition of the Frankfurt School's close relations to psychoanalysis, furthering and at the same time modifying the tradition thus bringing critical social theory more in line with contemporary empirical research.

I want to focus on the problem of how these theoretical steps support claims about the link between individual development and social system, and to what extent is it possible to speak of a unified theoretical approach spanning from the domain of empirical research to the normative level of recognition. Is it necessary and what does it mean for the theory of recognition to find empirical support from 'outside' that level? My aim is to look for an answer of these questions in two different directions.

One of them is the object relations theory, especially in the field of 'transitional phenomena' describing the gradual formation of infant's personality out of the mother-infant relation. The other is an anthropological theory of human communication evolution, which Honneth lately prefers, and which examines the prelinguistic and precognitive stages of personal development. In my view the shift made by Honneth between these paradigms amounts to updating recognition theory in the face of new empirical findings about communicative development and socialization, but it also puts this theory in an open state where different reflections and outcomes are possible.

 

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