Nature, freedom and the politics of authenticity: Dialectics and identity in Kant, Hegel and Marx

Mawhinney, Michelle Margaret.   York University (Canada) ProQuest Dissertations & Theses,  2007. NR32059.

Abstract (summary)

This project undertakes an immanent critique of the moral epistemologies of Kant, Hegel and Marx from a critical theory and feminist perspective. Using Adorno's concept of nonidentity, it traces a dialectic of negativity within and between the writings of these three philosophers. The exposition is exegetical, but also draws out the relevance of the reading to contemporary political/moral issues of identity and difference, and to the ethical problematic of modern western thought which constructs Nature as Other.

The overall critique emerges as a pathway marked by points of contradiction and negativity, beginning with the post-Enlightenment opposition of the concepts of Nature and Freedom which (in part) sets the stage of Kant's critical philosophy, and which in different ways marks the resolution(s) to the problem of human freedom developed by Hegel and Marx. The Nature/Freedom relation is used throughout as both an historical frame and a (logical) point of nonidentity with which to draw out the contradictions, reversals and paradoxes in the different texts. The opposition is also related to the larger paradox of authenticity which informs the project as a whole - whereby human "dignity" is identified with Freedom, and the latter is premised on a fundamental rift from and degradation of Nature. The resulting ethos has produced a particular form of othering specific to the modern context, where the self both requires and repels difference in order to ensure its own self-certainty.

The project seeks to articulate an alternative ethos which cares for those aspects of existence largely discounted or denigrated in modern western thought - difference, materiality, bodies and particularity; but which at the same time does not discount that which has been reified by this tradition - the universal, mind, reason and truth. The reading of Kant, Hegel and Marx undertaken in this project produces a constellation of concepts which points in such a direction, towards an "ethics of nonidentity" which is both materialist and anti-essentialist. Recognizing the socially constructed yet systemic and entrenched practices of identity and domination, it approaches such practices dialectically, attending to both logical and historical levels of critique.

Indexing (details)

Political science
0615: Political science
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Authenticity; Dialectics; Freedom; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich; Identity; Kant, Immanuel; Marx, Karl; Nature; Politics of authenticity
Nature, freedom and the politics of authenticity: Dialectics and identity in Kant, Hegel and Marx
Mawhinney, Michelle Margaret
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School code
DAI-A 68/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
York University (Canada)
University location
Canada -- Ontario, CA
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
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Dissertation/thesis number
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Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
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