chapter  12
23 Pages

Abstracting emancipation

Two dialectics on the trail of freedom1
ByJohn Michael Roberts

The dialectisation of critical realism by Roy Bhaskar enriches the account of emancipation by placing freedom within an interconnected totality along with their associated sub-totalities. Emancipation, as so defined, depends upon the transformation of structures, not the alteration or amelioration of states of affairs. In this special sense an emancipatory politics or practice is necessarily both grounded in scientific theory and revolutionary objective or intent. This chapter explores the emancipatory project of critical realism as regards the concept of freedom. It suggests that the concept of unity-in-opposite is a crucial one for a dialectical emancipatory theory because it incorporates the idea of 'essential, internal and determining contradiction'. The dialecticisation of critical realism by Bhaskar in his monumental Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom places the emancipatory project of critical realism onto a new metatheoretical level. In Dialectic Bhaskar suggests that emancipation and the freedom which it encapsulates both become embroiled within the logic of 'absence'.