Friday, August 31, 2012

Dissertation on shame. Chapter 1.2.1 Three forms for recognition

1.2.1 Three forms for recognition

Honneth (1995) argues that there are three forms of recognition: primary relationships (love, friendship); legal relationships (rights); and community of value (solidarity).

The first form, love relationships, is to be understood as “strong emotional attachments among a small number of people” (1995: 95), and refers to friendships, parent-child relationships, and sexual relationships. Love represents the first stage of reciprocal recognition. Through love, the subjects mutually confirm the need for care, neediness and dependence. Hegel (1802/1979) has defined love as “being oneself in another” (1802/ 1979: 110). The interaction theory to Stern (1977) has developed an object-relationship theory on the basis on such an understanding of love between mother and child. He finds the interaction between mother and child as a highly complex process, in which both parts contribute in order to share experience of emotions. Because the experience of love must be mutual, recognition is characterized by a double process; releasing and binding oneself to the loving subject. Independence is therefore both affirmed and supported. Dilling (1974) argues in his doctoral dissertation on Buber that love should be understood as the responsibility of I for You. Through the experience of living a lived life, everyone is addressed continually. Our habit is to refuse to listen or to break in with our chatter so that we conceal from ourselves our lack of love, which Buber understands as responsibility (Buber 1948).

The second form of recognition according to Honnet is legal rights, which differ from love in almost all aspects expect in the need for reciprocal recognition. Here, all individual’s are to be treated as rational beings, free and as persons. Honnett (1995) argues that people show recognition by respecting each other and being aware of the social norms by which rights and duties are distributed in their community. The legal system can also be seen as the expression of the universal interests of all members of society. This demands that one has agreed to the norms in society as a free and equal being. In obeying the law, argues Honneth further, legal subjects recognize each other as persons capable of autonomously making reasonable decisions about moral norms.

The third form, solidarity, inspires a felt concern for what is individual and particular about the other person. Every person in a society characterized by solidarity, is free from being collectively denigrated. Everyone is given the chance to experience oneself as be recognised, in light of one’s own accomplishments and abilities, and as being valuable to society. This opens up a horizon within which individuals can feel free, and not be subject to disrespect.

It is my opinion that all of these three forms of recognition are present in the settings of this study, the Incest Centre of Vestfold. Several participants in the interviews speak of the Centre as their second home and of the workers as being motherly. Users of the Centre seem to experience love and friendship here and take back through this experience the responsibility for ones own life. The users of the Centre are also in my opinion treated as rational and free beings. They are recognized as persons capable of autonomously making reasonable decisions about moral norms in their lives. The users are also in my opinion met with solidarity and are given the opportunity to experience oneself as recognised by others as valuable.
 Kaare T. Pettersen

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