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13 - Hegel's concept of recognition and its reception in the humanist feminism of Simone de Beauvoir

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

Sabine Doyé
University of Siegen
Nicholas Boyle
University of Cambridge
Liz Disley
University of Cambridge
John Walker
Birkbeck College, University of London
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Hegel's theory of recognition stands at the centre of a debate whose ultimate aim is to find a categorical basis for a critical social theory. Hegel's theory of recognition enables later theorists to construct a concept of intersubjectivity for a theoretical programme that is not limited to the boundaries of empirical and descriptive science.

It is the young Hegel from the Jena years whose concept of recognition can be utilised in this way. Of course, this concept frames an issue that was also central for the mature Hegel, that is, the critique of the atomistic assumptions, coming mainly from Hobbes, of the social philosophy of his time. As early as the 1807 Phenomenology, this concept is developed with the clear intention of founding a subject-centred philosophy of reason, which reaches its completion in the Phenomenology at the level of ‘absolute knowledge’ (das absolute Wissen).

Characteristic of this philosophy of reason, as it appears from the critical distance provided by post-Idealist thought, are the intellectualist distortions caused by an exclusive focus on the logic of the subject–object relationship. This concentration ultimatelymeans that understanding between subjects is seen purely as an achievementof a self-oriented subject.Thecritical reception of this philosophical tradition by feminist philosophy decodes its genderspecific subtext and sees it as an expression of androcentric illusion. This insight interprets what, particularly from a post-modern point of view, is the definitively and fundamentally repressive nature of the modern concept of reason, in terms of binary gender definitions.

The Impact of Idealism
The Legacy of Post-Kantian German Thought
, pp. 300 - 311
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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