Postmetaphysical thinking or refusal of thought? Max Horkheimer's materialism as philosophical stance
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (5):695 – 718 (2008)
Frankfurt School critical theory has long opposed metaphysical philosophy because it ignores suffering and injustice. In the face of such criticism, proponents of metaphysics (for example Dieter Henrich) have accused critical theory of not fully investigating the questions is raises for itself, and falling into partial metaphysical positions, despite itself. If one focuses on Max Horkheimer's early essays, such an accusation seems quite fitting. There he vociferously attacks metaphysics, but he also develops a theory that pushes toward metaphysical questions. His work can thus seem laden with unpacked metaphysical baggage, and fraught with contradiction. The aim of this paper is to show that Horkheimer's critique of metaphysics makes sense and is not contradicted by a surreptitious metaphysics. To show this, Horkheimer's views will be compared with Bas van Fraassen's in The Empirical Stance . Ultimately, the paper should show that Horkheimer's early philosophy can be reconstructed in such a way that it employs a 'materialist stance'.
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