Towards an Immanent Conception of Economic Agency: Or, A Speech on Metaphysics to its Cultured Despisers

Hegel Bulletin 38 (2):241-265 (2017)
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When it comes to social criticism of the economy, Critical Theory has thus far failed to discover specific immanent norms in that sphere of activity. In response, we propose that what is needed is to double down on the idealism of Critical Theory by taking seriously the sophisticated structure of agency developed in Hegel’s own account of freedom as self-determination. When we do so, we will see that the anti-metaphysical gestures of recent Critical Theory work in opposition to its attempts to develop immanent critique. In this paper we first briefly reconsider Axel Honneth’s project as it concerns economic institutions and then respond by returning to the problem of freedom and articulating a view according to which the problem of individual self-determination and the problem of social production are the same problem seen from different angles. Then we present briefly Hegel’s own social theory from this perspective before moving on to trace the outlines of such a critical theory of contemporary capitalism.

Author Profiles

Christopher Yeomans
Purdue University
Justin Litaker
Purdue University


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