Towards a critique of reification as a critique of forms of life

Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy 9 (2):291-326 (2021)
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The claim that there is “no alternative”, to contemporary neoliberal capitalism is widespread today. This paper proposes a reinterpretation of the notion of reification to scrutinize the alleged necessity of the capitalist social order. Developed by Georg Lukács, the problem of reification refers to the experience of social arrangements as thinglike entities rather than as products of social construction. By addressing the problem of reification within a social ontology of forms of life, the occurrence of reification is understood as resulting from the normatively neutral self-presentation of the capitalist form of life. To de-neutralize social norms that shape the capitalist form of life, this paper argues that social critique should turn to shared standpoints from which reification is experienced as a problem. Such standpoints can be found in social practices that are already involved in shared, normatively imbued forms of life beyond the reified logic of the capitalist form of life. Hence, it is argued that alternative forms of life are positioned to de-reify the norms that guide the capitalist form of life at large.

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