Characterising social pathologies: an analytic grid


  • Fabian Freyenhagen Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex



In this paper, I would like to take up one proposal that I touch on as part of the longer paper delivered at the SPT conference on Critical Theory and the Concept of Social Pathology. The proposal is an analytic grid for characterising social pathologies, particularly in thelight of the conceptualisations of this idea specified within the Frankfurt School CriticalTheory tradition.

Let me first summarise briefly the longer paper. I present some general features of the idea of social pathology (see below), and suggest that this idea can set FrankfurtSchool Critical Theory apart from mainstream liberal approaches – notably, in virtue of the specifically ethical register it involves (rather than a justice-based one dominant incontemporary liberalism) and the interdisciplinary approach it calls for (which marks a contrast to the relatively stark division between normative theorising and the social sciences characteristic of much of political philosophy today). I criticise the way Habermas and Honneth transform the early Frankfurt School conceptualisations of this idea by tying itto their respective models of functional differentiation of society.

Author Biography

Fabian Freyenhagen, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex

Fabian Freyenhagen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex. His publications include Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and articles and book chapters on Critical Theory. He hopes to work next on a critique ofsocial pathology (in the Kantian sense of critique) -- comprehensively mapping the differentmodels of social pathology and establishing how and whether they can be validated.




How to Cite

Freyenhagen, F. (2019) “Characterising social pathologies: an analytic grid”, Studies in Social and Political Thought, 280. doi: 10.20919/sspt.28.2018.84.