Kritik von Lebensformen

When asked "Do others live in the right way?", Liberalism seems to prefer "Who am I to judge?". Rahel Jaeggi sees the situation differently. Judging is not only valid but also useful, he argues. Moral judgment is not an error, if anything, the error lies in the way we judge. Both the external way of judging - derived from ideas about God or human nature - and the internal one - based on the ideas of a particular society -, however, have serious flaws, as well as detractors. In this text Jaeggi offers a third way: it is about immanent criticism. It begins with the recognition that lifestyles are inherently normative, affirming one's goodness and righteousness. And they also have a coherent purpose: to solve basic social problems and advance social goods, most of which are common to all cultures. For Jaeggi we can judge the validity of a society's normative claims by evaluating how it responds to crises, if it is able to overcome in an emancipatory sense the contradictions that arise from within and to open up to collective learning paths. Against the relativist and absolutist narratives, Jaeggi therefore shows that a rational social criticism is possible.

Rahel Jaeggi
Year of Publication
Translated in:
Mimesis (2021)
With the title:
Critica delle forme di vita
Editori associati (tassonomia)