How does Shakespeare represent war? Guest editor Patrick Gray reviews scholarship to date on the question, in light of contributions to a special issue of Critical Survey, ‘Shakespeare and War’. Drawing upon St. Augustine’s City of God, the basis for later just war theory, Gray argues that progressive optimism regarding the perfectibility of what St. Augustine calls the ‘City of Man’ makes it difficult for modern commentators to discern Shakespeare’s own more tragic, Augustinian sense of warfare as a necessary evil, given the fallenness of human nature. Modern misgivings about ‘honour’ also lead to misinterpretation. As Francis Fukuyama points out, present-day liberal democracies tend to follow Hobbes and Locke in attempting to ‘banish the desire for recognition from politics’. Shakespeare in contrast, like Hegel, as well as latter-day Hegelians such as Fukuyama, Charles Taylor and Axel Honneth, sees the faculty that Plato calls thymos as an invaluable instrument of statecraft.
Honour at the Stake
The Social Foundations of Democratic Life
Axel Honneth. Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life
Hegel’s concept of recognition has been taken up by a number of thinkers, including Axel Honneth, Robert Williams, and Charles Taylor, under the banner of “the politics of recognition,” which pro- poses to put the concept of recognition to use in the service of a theory of politics that can respond to the problems of group-based structural injustice and subordination. According to these thinkers, equal recognition and the possibility of undistorted forms of communicative agreement serve as the regulative ideal that governs the ever-expanding horizon of a community of autonomous, mutually affirming equals, in which, as Honneth writes, each person has “the chance to know that he or she is socially esteemed with regard to his or her abilities.”
João Feres Júnior
The author argues that the development of a critical history of concepts should be based on a programmatic position different from that of original Begriffsgeschichte, or of its main interpretations. By drawing upon theoretical insights of Axel Honneth, he reassesses the basic assumption of Begriffsgeschichte regarding the relationship between the history of concepts and social history, and calls attention to the problems that spring from focusing analysis almost exclusively on key concepts. According to Feres, special attention should be paid to concepts that are socially and politically effective, but, at the same time, do not become the subject of public contestation. Based on this programmatic position, he ends the article proposing a sketch for organizing the study of conceptual history in Brazil along three semantic regions.