Publication Date

August 2017


Was the left doomed from the start? This is the central question addressed by Axel Honneth in The Idea of Socialism (2017). Honneth was a student of Habermas and a third generation Frankfurt school theorist who continues to act as director of the famous Institute for Social research in Frankfurt, Germany. He is currently also Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. The book I review here was his latest. Although the bulk of the material in this book comes directly from translated lectures Honneth gave in Germany which sometimes may pose challenges for lay-readers, the accompanied detailed reference notes and expanded explanations in the chapters help even the lay-reader get a general overview of some of the early problems with socialist ideas. The book would also be ideal for those teaching theory courses to both undergraduate and graduate students in the field of sociology or non- analytical philosophy.