Recognition, power, and trust: Epistemic structural account of ideological recognition

Constellations:1-15 (forthcoming)
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Recognition is one of the most ambivalent concepts in political and social thought. While it is a condition for individual freedom, the subject’s demand for recognition can be exploited as an instrument for reproducing domination. Axel Honneth addresses this issue and offers the concept of ideological recognition: Recognition is ideological when the addressees accept it from their subjective point of view but is unjustified from an objective point of view. Using the examples of the recognition of femininity, I argue that Honneth’s account fails not only to offer the objective normative standard that delineates between morally justified and unjustified recognition, but also to descriptively explain why the addressees of ideological recognition accept their identities as having positive qualities. To overcome these problems, I provide an alternative, epistemic structural account. First, my account offers the concept of epistemic trust and identifies the objective injustice that Honneth’s account cannot capture. Second, my account offers the concept of structural power and discusses the problem of internalization of problematic identities. Furthermore, I argue that epistemic structural account has theoretical and practical benefits for analyzing domination and advancing the task of critique by explaining the ideological recognition in the case of racial identity, for example.

Author's Profile

Hiroki Narita
Japan Society for The Promotion of Science


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