The Ladder of Hope: From "Orthopedia" to the Antinomies of Social Systems and Back.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Spyros GANGAS, DEREE-The American College of Greece, Greece
To hope for a regeneration of Bloch’s “principles of hope” is a task today both urgent and taxing. Contemporary forms of suffering in conjunction with the fact that capitalism’s crises do not automatically translate into coordinated resistance call for a reconstruction of the problem of hope. This reconstruction is founded not only on value-claims (e.g. orthopedia, human dignity) of the dispossessed but also on moral values which are held to be represented by the critical social scientist. Yet, Adorno, for example, deferred the problem of the value-constitution of society solely to the domain of reification. This error was not committed by all Critical Theorists. Marcuse’s “The Concept of Essence” is a notable exception. I shall argue, first, that the shape of a reified moral constitution of the institutional totality under capitalism requires rethinking the problem of hope at the level of dialectical mediations (the ‘ladder’) in a complex network of societies (e.g. Hegel, N.Hartmann, Honneth). It thus presupposes conceiving the social totality in terms of its antinomic features, namely, as a double society marked not only by alienation but also by social shapes of its appeasement. It is at this juncture that Critical Theory risks jettisoning a ‘determinate negation’ of society opting instead to a reified ‘total negation’. Second, Critical Theory ought to consider broadening Bloch’s ‘warm streams’ to include other normative projects against alienation (e.g. Durkheim, Sen). Thus, to reclaim Bloch axiological kernel of “orthopedia” requires exiting Critical Theory’s moral isolationism and guarding oneself from a reification of critique that eschews reconstruction of categories in face of a social reality’s recalcitrance, the dual-form of which is obfuscated in ways that explain away available non-reified spaces of hope.