Reading the passages below this afternoon and mulling their ideas over – especially after attending an outstanding short conference yesterday with Mathias Enard, talking about his books, specifically Zone and Boussole (Compass, which will be out later next year in English), and how they dialogue with ideas of contemporary and historical Europe – the historical/political and the emotional intersections of individuals:
Recognition, in the sense I’ve been using it so far, refers to a cognitive insight, a moment of knowing or knowing again. Specifically, I have been puzzling over what it means to say, as people not infrequently do, that I know myself better after reading a book. The ideas at play here have to do with comprehension, insight, and self-understanding. (That recognition is cognitive does not mean that it is purely cognitive, of course; moments of self-apprehension can trigger a spectrum of emotional reactions shading from delight to discomfort, from joy to chagrin.) When political theorists talk about recognition, however, they mean something else: not knowledge, but acknowledgement. Here the claim for recognition is a claim for acceptance, dignity and inclusion in public life. Its force is ethical rather than epistemic, a call for justice rather than a claim to truth. Moreover, recognition in reading revolves around a moment of personal illumination and heightened self-understanding; recognition in politics involves a demand for public acceptance and validation. The former is directed toward the self, the latter toward others, such that the two meanings of the term would seem to be entirely at odds.
Yet this distinction is far from being a dichotomy; the question of knowledge is deeply entangled in practices of acknowledgement…
From Rita Felski’s Uses of Literature