Public Reason: Vol. 2, No. 2, December 2010
Dussel’s Critique of Discourse Ethics as Critique of Ideology
Asger Sørensen


Political philosophy should have the ambition to meet the conceptual demands of both government and governed. Critique of ideology is a classical modern way to see that such demands are met. In this perspective a marginal position is beneficial, namely when it comes to experiencing the particularity of a statement proposed as universally valid. The Argentinian-Mexican philosopher Enrique Dussel has exploited his marginality to point out shortcoming in modern critical theory, which he considers ideologically flawed. In this critique he employs Marx, Levinas, and the founding fathers of the Frankfurt school. The critique is mainly directed towards discursive ethics in terms of materiality vs. formality, where Dussel points to the material importance of economy, the body and teleological content for ethics. Apart from the epistemological benefits, being marginal has material importance, since it is in the peripheries of the world that the suffering is realized and thus experienced in the most extreme way, namely as exploitation, starvation, slavery and torture. As practical philosophy both ethics and political philosophy must be able to back up normative stands on such material matters as well as principles and procedures, and this is what Dussel reminds us. 

Key words: ideology, discourse ethics, matter, victim, U-sentence.



Sørensen, Asger. 2010. Dussel’s Critique of Discourse Ethics as Critique of Ideology. Public Reason 2(2): 84-101.