Education, Freedom, and Emancipation from the Standpoint of the Recognition Theory

Interview with Axel Honneth




education, Bildung, recognition, social freedom, emancipation


In this interview, Axel Honneth discusses his views on education that leads to social freedom as the opposite of the currrently predominatly understanding of education as training for employability. He explains, in which sence social freedom as goal of education differs from autonomy and emancipation. Honneth also emphasises the significance of childrens’ imaginative powers for a democratic society.


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Author Biography

Krassimir Stojanov, Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany

Is Professor and Chair of Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory at the University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, Germany. His main publications include the monographs Education, Self-Consciousness, and Social Action. Bildung as a Neo-Hegelian Concept (Routledge 2018; paperback in 2020), Bildungsgerechtigkeit. Rekonstruktionen eines umkämpften Begriffs“ [Educational Justice. Reconstruction of a Essssentially Contested Concept] (Springer VS: Wiesbaden 2011), Bildung und Anerkennung. Soziale Voraussetzungen von Selbst-Entwicklung und Welt-Erschließung [Education and Recognition. Social Conditions of Self-Development and World-Encountering] ((Springer VS: Wiesbaden 2006). His main topics of research and teaching include educational justice, the concept of Bildung, education and democracy.

Axel Honneth was born 1949 in Essen, Germany. Since 2011 he is Jack C. Weinstein Professor of the Humanities at the department of philosophy at Columbia University. He is also a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt. Between 2001 and 2018 he was director of the Institute for Social Research, which is historically the intellectual and the institutional centre of the Frankfurt School. Honneth developed further the critical social theory of that School by conceptualizing a recognition approach to social pathologies. His main monographs include:
. The Critique of Power: Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory (MIT Press, 1991 [1985]).
. The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts (Polity Press, 1995 [1992]).
. Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange. Co-authored with Nancy Fraser (Verso, 2003).
. Freedom's Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life (Columbia University Press 2015)
. His newest essays collection, The Poverty of our Freedom (published in German as “Die Armut unserer Freiheit” in August 2020), addresses also issues of education, childhood and socialization in the late-modern society.


HONNETH, A. (2015). Education and the Democratic Public Sphere: A Neglected Chapter of Political Philosophy. In J. JAKOBSEN & O. LYSAKER (Eds.), Recognition and Freedom. Axel Honneth’s Political Thought (pp. 17-32). Leiden/Boston: Brill.

HONNETH, A. (2020). Kindheit. Unstimmigkeiten unserer liberalen Vorstellungswelt. In A. HONNETH (Ed.), Die Armut unserer Freiheit. Aufsätze 2012-2019 (pp. 234-263). Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag AG.