Suffering Injustice: Misrecognition as Moral Injury in Critical Theory

J. M. Bernstein

in Language Without Soil

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780823231263
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235360 | DOI:
Suffering Injustice:             Misrecognition as Moral Injury in Critical Theory

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This chapter considers the problem of misrecognition as a source of moral injury in Theodor W. Adorno and in the project of Critical Theory. The chapter begins by reprising Axel Honneth's recognitive critique of the communicative turn. The singular achievement of recognitive theory is to provide an account of all moral injuries, injuries that are not just misfortunes but normatively wrong, in terms of misrecognition. It is tested against Nancy Fraser's contention that inequality cannot be analyzed in recognitive terms. A negative social philosophy, one bound to injustice, must give priority to history and event. Honneth's approach displaces what Adorno conceived of as the two orienting frames of Critical Theory: a contextualization of modern social forms within a fragmentary philosophy of history, and, working from the opposite pole, the provisioning of an ineliminable and primary role to event and experience.

Keywords: misrecognition; Theodor W. Adorno; Axel Honneth; Nancy Fraser; philosophy; moral injury; Critical Theory

Chapter.  9279 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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