The Critical Theorist Axel Honneth has rejected as too abstract the constructivist approach to normative grounding adopted by his predecessor, Jürgen Habermas. However, his aim of unearthing normative guidelines implicit in existing social practices raises again the problem of the relation between reason and history. This article argues that Schelling’s late thought is relevant in this situation, where Honneth finds himself oscillating uneasily between a Kantian and a Hegel perspective on history. After defending Schelling’s late philosophy against the critiques of two earlier members of Frankfurt School, Marcuse and Habermas, it argues that Schelling’s conception allows us to seek traces of reason in history, but without metaphysical guarantees.
Keywords: Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, Herbert Marcuse, Philosophy of History, Positive and Negative Philosophy, F.W.J. Schelling.