Normativity and Subjectivity: First Nature – Second Nature – Mind

The project started from the assumption that normativity both presupposes and produces subjectivity. Subjectivity is understood in this context as the ensemble of the capacities of normative orientation. Thus the project inquired into the forms of subjectivity that are constitutive for (specific) structures of normativity. This question was pursued from a twofold perspective: from that of how normative orders are realized and from that of how they are brought about in the first place through the formation of specific structures of subjectivity. Therefore, this investigation aimed to conceptualize normativity in processual terms: normativity only exists through processes of subjectivation. The ultimate goal of the project was to develop a genealogical conception of normativity.
The connection to the overall research of the Cluster was twofold. First, the project focused on the topic of the formation of normative orders. It asked how the nature and the structure of normativity are to be understood on the assumption that it is generated through processes of subjectivation. Secondly, the project conducted its investigation of forms of subjectivation in an interdisciplinary perspective.
The research in the project had two focuses. The first was on the mode of formation of subjectivity and its consequences for the concept of normativity; at the center of this first field of research was the concept of freedom (as liberation). The second focus was on the normative structure of modern law; the question here concerned the specific mode of legal subjectivation in the form of “subjective” (or individual) rights.
The research in the first field showed that the genesis of subjectivity unfolds in a process of transformation that leads from a merely natural to a normative or mental being. This process constitutes subjectivity, which thus consists in the (processual) relation between nature and mind. Hence the freedom that defines subjectivity must also be understood as a process, namely the process of liberation. In his dissertation on the young Hegel written in the context of the project, Oliver Brokel showed that freedom stands in a relation of indissoluble tension to every existing normative order.
The research in the second field led to a theory of subjective rights which plays a fundamental role in the modern legal order. At the center of this analysis is the thesis that the form of subjective rights embodies an act of the self-reflection of law which inscribes the difference between norm and nature into the very structure of the norm itself. In modern law, its self-reflection is thus realized by way of an “empowerment” (Weber) of the subject. Further analysis was devoted to the political and social consequences of this subjective empowerment by means of subjective rights. The research on these topics has been published in Cristoph Menke’s book Kritik der Rechte [Critique of Rights] (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2015).

The most important publications of this project:

Menke, Christoph: Kritik der Rechte, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2015.

Menke, Christoph: “Hegels Theorie der Befreiung. Gesetz, Freiheit, Geschichte, Gesellschaft“, in: A. Honneth und G. Hindrichs (eds.): Freiheit. Internationaler Hegelkongress 2011, Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 2013, pp. 301–320. Reprint in: Christian Schmidt (ed.): Können wir der Geschichte entkommen? Geschichtsphilosophie am Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus 2013, pp. 60–81. English Translation: “Hegel’s Theory of Liberation: Law, Freedom, History, Society“, in: Symposium. Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy – Revue Canadienne de philosophie continentale, 17(1), Spring/Printemps, 2013, pp. 10–30.

Khurana, Thomas: "Paradoxes of Autonomy: On the Dialectics of Freedom and Normativity", in: Symposium. Canadian Journal of Continental Philosopy, 17(1), 2013, pp. 50–74.

 

 

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