Ulysses' reason, nobody's fault: Reason, subjectivity and the critique of enlightenment

Philosophy and Social Criticism 26 (6):47-59 (2000)
Drawing on notions of alienation, reification and rationalization in their book Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer explored the phenomenon of reason as such concerning the subject and the species, and diagnosed the pathologies of occidental societies. Reason provides the means for a vulnerable being to subordinate nature and serve its desire for self-preservation. However, this reason is instrumental since it objectifies the world and reifies other beings in order to render them manipulable. It is a subjective reason because it promotes the subject's own ends and aims at the subject's survival at the expense of the individual's inner world of unconscious desires and instincts and the reconciliation of human beings with the external world. The myth of Ulysses is magnificantly interpreted by Horkheimer and Adorno along such anthropological lines. As I see it, this anthropology inexorably connects the advent of civilization with the reifying power of reason from the start. Against the early Frankfurt School anthropological explanation of reason, I defend the distinction between communicative and strategic rationality that presupposes a different anthropology from the Freudian one that informed the Dialectic of Enlightenment. Key Words: Adorno • alienation • critique • culture • Enlightenment • Freud • Habermas • Horkheimer • Lukács • Marcuse • paradox of reason • reason • self-preservation • subjectivity.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/019145370002600603
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,822
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

10 ( #227,445 of 1,724,741 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #349,121 of 1,724,741 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.