On Becoming Things an Interview With Axel Honneth | Capitalism | Science

On becoming things: An interview with Axel Honneth September 1st, 2013 • Relate • !

ile "n er #ensen S$ther %lat&p$s Review '( ) September 2013 On #$l& 3r , 2013, at the *oethe "niversit+t in !ran,-$rt, *erman&, #ensen S$ther interviewe Axel Honneth, irector o- the !ran,-$rt .nstit$te -or Social Research an a$thor o- n$mero$s boo,s an articles, on behal- o- %lat&p$s/ 0heir conversation -oc$se on the problem o- 1rei-ication,2 or the ten enc& -or processes o- trans-ormation to appear as, an be treate as i- the& were, static ob3ects o- an imm$table nat$re/ Rei-ication was the theme oseveral writings Honneth elivere as the 0anner 4ect$res at 5er,ele& in 200'/ 0hese lect$res are compile in the boo, Rei-ication: A 6ew 4oo, at an Ol . ea 76ew 8or,: Ox-or "niversit& %ress "SA, 20129/ :hat -ollows is an e ite transcript o- their isc$ssion/

*eorg 4$,;cs in 1(13

#ensen S$ther: .n &o$r 200' 0anner 4ect$re series, &o$ arg$e that *eorg 4$,;cs<s =arxist anal&sis o- the problem o- rei-ication is problematic, partic$larl& in that he ascribes the overcoming o- alienate social relations to the wor,ing class/ 8o$ en the lect$re b& emphasi>ing that, pace 4$,;cs, -or whom rei-ication is generate b& the commo it& -orm, i--erent sets o- social practices give rise to rei-&ing behavior an no one gro$p, class, or social movement can be sing$larl& assigne the tas, o- abolishing rei-ie social relations/ However, rei-ication has historicall& been an important concept -or the 4e-t/ ?o &o$ see the criti@$e o- rei-ication as necessaril& le-tistA How, i- at all, oes &o$r contrib$tion to the isco$rse on rei-ication relate to the 4e-tA Axel Honneth: 0his is a s$rprising @$estion, one . wo$l not have tho$ght to as,, so m& answer comes ver& m$ch a hoc/ . o not believe that concepts belong to an& speci-ic political comm$nit& or gro$p/ 0he egree to which concepts help $s explore something or see something new, the& sho$l be ta,en as an instr$ment potentiall& available -or ever&one in societ&/ So, in that sense, . o not believe that rei-ication is an a$tomaticall& le-tist concept/ =oreover, in terms o- the histor& o- i eas, . am not even s$re that rei-ication is necessaril& a concept evelope onl& b& le-tists/ !or instance, the !rench =arxist thin,er 4$cien *ol mann so$ght to emonstrate the similarities between the approaches o- 4$,;cs an Hei egger/ 8o$ can -in in Hei egger an i ea o- rei-ication, which alrea & in icates that rei-ication was a concept also $tili>e b& the right, or on the right/ 0here are man& problems with 4$,;cs<s anal&sis/ 0he almost m&stical role he assigns the proletariat is onl& one othem/ Bven i- we grant that his was one o- the most -r$it-$l perio s in the 4e-t tra ition, in the histor& o- :estern =arxism, . thin, that to a& we can see m$ch more clearl& the limits othat anal&sis an the mista,es bo$n $p with those limits/ An , s$rel&, the biggest mista,e is not onl& the emphasis on the worl Chistorical role o- the proletariat, b$t also how this is emphasi>e , namel& b& wa& o- a ver& pec$liar set o- bac,gro$n i eas, let<s sa&, abo$t the

nor 3$st the ob3ecti-ication o. -or 4$.cs to thin.social relations. isn<t it the case. b$t also ver& strange/ #S: 8o$ arg$e in &o$r 200' lect$res that rei-ication oes not eliminate nonCrei-ie -orms osocial praxis.praxis/ 0here-ore.we grant the con ition that rei-ication is constit$tive o. A orno is more open/ #S: 0o come bac. how co$l we ever attain a less istorte ..cs<s claim that the commo it& -orm not onl& generates rei-ication.in o.cs thin.that worl Cconstit$ting activit&.social str$ct$re o. that rei-ication oes not merel& represent the ossi-ication o.in o.praxisA . the revol$tion. as the basis -or abolishing c$rrent social relations/ A orno. or 1$n ist$rbe . to the last part o.cs/ One wa& to $n erstan him is to sa& that all praxis in the present moment o..praxis/ 5e it in art.capitalist societ& is completel& rei-ie / 5$t then &o$ have this problem o. wherein 4$.in ivi $alsA !or both thin. mean.how.. $ring a revol$tionar& perio in the crisis ocapital. or signs o.cs.an $n istorte praxis. 1as it reall& is2A Or is it rather the case.n ee . that misrecognition is constit$tive o.4$. he ma.praxis in o$r alrea & existing societ&/ 0his is a i--ic$lt iss$e in 4$.o$r social con itionA An what o.praxis is possible/ .n A orno it is tric... 4$. $n ist$rbe -orm o.worl Cconstit$ting activit&.. he believes that there are still alternatives.ier still/ Bven when A orno is sa&ing that rei-ication is constit$tive.h$man existence. b$t onl& papers over them. thin..realit&/ 4$. &o$ arg$e that a 1gen$ine -orm o.cs is m$ch more ra ical in his claim that rei-ication is total/ 5$t this ma.cs<s position/ ..these istorte con itions/ !or 4$. we can onl& hol o$t hope -or this better -orm o.o$r societ&. or thin.es me as an epistemological @$estion.the better. this moment loo.rei-ication/ .n several places A orno stresses that ever& secon nat$re is alwa&s alrea & a new -irst nat$re/ Similarl&. 1in rei-ie h$man beings rei-ication -in s its o$ter limits/2G1H . or probabl& better still an ontological @$estion: .ever& a& practicesDthere are.. we have this almost -antastic piece within the whole st$ &. an so 4$.. is the class which is representingDeven $n er alienate or istorte con itionsDthat .how one has access to an& sense that an $n istorte -orm o. one sees the intensi-ication.2 -orm o. is it possible to grasp this gen$ine. perseveres beneath rei-ie social relations/ Bven i.praxis i.es clear that rei-ication is integral to the ialectic o. -or instance.the immanent appearance o.cs an A orno. which is seen as the estr$ction o.cs it has to be this completel& eschatological trans-ormation.s that the onl& class that can overcome rei-ication..t<s a ver& pec$liar anal&sisDenormo$sl& inspiring. a complete reversal/ :ith respect to this @$estion . $n erl&ing social realit&. elements oan $n istorte practice/ So in A orno &o$ have this i ea o.cs wants to reveal this one moment othe overcoming o.... b$t also pro $ces conscio$snessA AH: 0hat stri.n other wor s.!ichteanCHegelian metaph&sical concept b& which all h$man societ& is tho$ght to be gro$n e in a certain . o. not the imin$tion.es it m$ch more i--ic$lt -or 4$. whereas 4$.in o.we also believe that there m$st alwa&s alrea & be an element o.we are to avoi contra icting o$rselves.cs relies on a . the artwor. or be it in small examples o.. he claims.2 arg$es that.e this one revol$tionar& actE .this is the case.s o.s almost li.m& previo$s @$estion.another -orm o.theor& an practice.cs spea. an &o$ claim that this was also 4$. in his 1Re-lections on Flass 0heor&. social change/ 0h$s -or 4$. as 0heo or A orno s$ggests. an not simpl& an obstacle to .ers rei-ication also ha a positive signi-icance.2 one base on m$t$al recognition. &o$ almost get the sense that in one secon all these estr$ctive con itions are overcome/ .

regar ing how . 4$. o not thin.-$rt School relie mainl& on ps&choanal&sis as a wa& to thin.&o$ -ollow !re$ .n &o$r view.bo$rgeois societ&/ 8o$ claim that this interr$ption poses a moral or ethical challenge.the labor -orce.capitalism an speci-ic -orms o. an that histor& has emonstrate that the 1=arxist wing o. in a wa&. since the wor.rei-ication/ .es even in terms o. entitle 1A social patholog& o. -or example. ps&choanal&sis ma& o--er power-$l tools -or anal&>ing social irrationalit&/ . thro$gh the emancipator& mechanisms alrea & immanent in capitalism/ . have o$bts abo$t s$ch a totali>ing i ea/ .pro $ction also exhibit the oppositeDnamel&. b$t onl& in some speci-ic cases oes this -orm o. A orno.rei-icationA AH: . not -or emancipation.gro$n i ea is that capitalist exchange relations..o$r ps&chic li-e simpl& resists the existent capitalist con itions beca$se o.&o$ ta. -orms orei-ication are a$tomaticall& or necessaril& pro $ce b& capitalist societies.capitalism.e rei-ication literall&. thro$gh the contra iction between capitalism an the aspirations o.in o.e sense to spea.reason: on the intellect$al legac& o. which . o.the -ail$re o=arxism.s$--ering implicit in these con itions/ However. with one<s strateg& -or i enti-&ing rei-ication/ 0here is a h$ge i--erence between 4$.2 &o$ arg$e that the process o. .-$rt School/ 0heir starting point.it/ How oes this imension o. was hesitation as to precisel& that premise/ . . as s$ch.the labor -orce will a$tomaticall& evelop a critical perspective/ An empirical o$bt o.-ree om.<m a-rai / 0hat has to o. an m&sel-. that A orno an 4$.n the sex tra e.cs an A orno. are pro $cing rei-ication/ .t is a ver& complicate @$estion/ !irst. i.ers m$st be exacte -rom them/ Fapitalist pro $ction as s$ch entails the $se.the !ran.. an that it is the tas.n an essa& &o$ wrote that concl$ es the Fambri ge Fompanion to Fritical 0heor&. believe in that . which wo$l point to a completel& i--erent $sage o. o. s$--ering pro $ces certain ispositions. . as a commo it&. namel& in its conviction that the proletariat or the class o.rei-ication -ig$re into &o$r acco$ntA Or. . has been interr$pte .the other representatives o.ps&choanal&sis/ 5$t. thin.e mista.rationali>ation.practices within capitalism are what pro $ce reall& rei-ie attit$ es/ Asi e -rom this i--erence. on one si e. on the other/ !or them. or isregar -or.rei-ication/ 5$t rei-ication oes not obtain in all -orms o.that premise ha alrea & been -orm$late b& the earl& !ran.n certain passages A orno s$ggests that a certain component o. we have a clear case o.ps&chic mechanism/ :ith =arc$se it is completel& i--erent/ =arc$se arg$e there are certain rives that permanentl& resist the capitalist -orm o. or what Hegel wo$l have calle the historical $n-ol ing o. . A orno an some o.le-t Hegelianism2 was wrong. thin.capitalist pro $ction/ #S: .ing class i not 1a$tomaticall& evelop a revol$tionar& rea iness/2 8o$ arg$e that. in light o. what are the limitations to the immanent anal&sis o. wo$l not claim that =arxism as s$ch has -aile . h$man potential/ Onl& in these partic$lar cases oes it ma.Fritical 0heor&. thin. however.Fritical 0heor& to thin.social rationali>ation..nowle ge/ 6onetheless. o not see that. $ntil the en .the wor.the h$man potentialities o. even exchange irectl& involving the labor -orce. b$t -or enlightening . an ignorance o-. also thin. b$t rather that speci-ic -orms o. o. b$t that it has clearl& erre in one respect.. to p$t the @$estion a i--erent wa&. the bac.ps&choanal&sis -or a revitali>e emancipator& politicsA AH: . is rei-ication as s$ch/ 6ot all practices involve in the pro $ction process necessaril& re@$ire that the h$man potentialities o.the element o.their own concept$ali>ations/ . then &o$ cannot reall& sa& that all economic exchange.cs ma.. whose resol$tion oes not necessaril& re@$ire the s$blation o.cs wants to o. what wo$l be the signi-icance o.

3$st be-ore the b$il ing it has occ$pie -or nearl& a eca e was sei>e / . thin. their own theoretical interests.e $cation within the $niversit&. within a nonC reg$late . act$all&/ Foncerning the .<s own sel-C escription it oes so$n as tho$gh the . b$t to represent a space where -ree thin.alternative political pro3ect reali>es. or . that these spaces represent another -orm o.m$t$al recognition an eCrei-&ing behavior that &o$ call -or in &o$r wor. their own insights/ .the& evelop interest in creating s$ch spaces/ . an the wor. thin. most notabl& in his late essa& 1Resignation.st$ ents to have alternative spaces -or their own wa& o.st$ ents who believe the& nee these places. is ver& help-$l in or er to thin.the $s$al -orms o. .n brie-. this strain.li-e/ .v.n a !ebr$ar& 2012 ispatch entitle . beca$se that<s the whole i ea o. then more places li. one sho$l s$pport it.?onal :innicott in partic$lar. be&on the speci-ic reg$lations o. this is a goo step/ 0here is still a etermine gro$p o.an& age.es 0ime an Space.2 that attempts to 1resc$e enclaves o. gen er. or ethnicit& to achieve a$tonom&/G2H ?o &o$ thin.a $niversit& D not to istrib$te -ormal .e this insight to be necessar& -or an& anal&sis o. o not thin.the interests o. the .o--icial representatives o.rrelevan>.ing 6ee s an 0a.thin.ing an -ree isc$ssion o$tsi e the control o.li-e/ .nstit$te -or Fomparative . abo$t emancipator& moments in normal h$man li-e/ =ore generall&.rrelevance. thin.2 available on its website.n a recent interview.st$ ents i.politics base aro$n a sel-Corgani>e space within which it is possible -or participants o.a $niversit& allows those spaces. simpl& beca$se this is one expression o. i.nowle ge that allows one to attain a position within societ&.nstit$t -Ir ie Jergleichen e . ps&choanal&sis might contrib$te to emancipation. it has one that. it is a goo sign -or a generation o.9. create a $ni@$e place close to the $niversit&/ 0he& occ$pie the b$il ing in or er to reclaim a space -or -ree thin.emancipator& potentialities within a given capitalist societ&/ #S: .rrelevance 7.e the . . ta.in o. one element .v. or at least approximates.v. . this sort o.t is a goo sign i.teaching are being p$t $n er greater press$re o.recognition can help to ma.imme iac& in the mi st o. o. wo$l ta. &o$ anno$nce &o$r s$pport -or the .m$t$al -orms o. thin.v. nevertheless has. a certain strain within ps&choanal&sis/ . has alrea & create an alternative -orm o.A A orno arg$es in several places. thro$gh a legitimate -orm o. the .ing.occ$pation.nstit$te -or Fomparative .certain economic interests. . where the& can ebate an isc$ss their own matters.e -rom ps&choanal&sis is a eep s$spicion abo$t the completel& rational actor/ %s&choanal&sis is one tra ition among others that helps $s to see that h$man beings are riven not onl& b& their p$rposive rational interests. wo$l hope that the notion o.ing is possible/ An . nonChierarchical -orm o. o not thin. become necessar&/ )% . writes that it sees itsel. obsc$ring the nee -or change on the level osociet&/G3H How wo$l &o$ respon to this criti@$eA AH: . b$t also b& their $nconscio$s wishes/ . am most intereste in ob3ect relations theor&.thin..n the . 1Fritical 0hin.as o--ering an alternative -orm o. wo$l give several answers/ !irst.e a little bit clearer what A orno ha in min .v.nowle ge/ .v.$niversit& e $cation/ An .a thoro$ghl& me iate an rigi i-ie societ&2 amo$nt to pse$ oCactivit&. b$t the .

1Re-lections on Flass 0heor&. 1Resignation.0ie emann 7Stan-or .1/ A orno. 0heo or. 2(1 http:OOplat&p$s1(1Q/orgO2013O0(O01OonCbecomingCthingsCanCinterviewCwithCaxelChonnethO .nterventions an Fatchwor s.2 in Fritical =o els: . trans/ Henr& :/ %ic. 0heo or.en bra$cht$n nimC mt sichCMeit $n Ra$m29 can be -o$n online at Nhttp:OO ivi/cop&riot/comO$eberC2P/K 3/ A orno. 110/K 2/ 0he -$ll text o. 200'9. e / Rol. FA: Stan-or "niversit& %ress.: Fol$mbia "niversit& %ress.1Fritical 0hin.ing 6ee s an 0a.es 0ime an Space2 71Lritisches ?en.2 in Fan One 4ive a-ter A$schwit>A A %hilosophical Rea er. 20039.-or 76ew 8or.

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