Over the last decade, Axel Honneth has established himself as one of the leading social and political philosophers in the world today. Rooted in the tradition of criticaltheory, his writings have been central to the revitalization of criticaltheory and have become increasingly influential. His theory of recognition has gained worldwide attention and is seen by some as the principal counterpart to Habermass theory of discourse ethics. In this important new volume, Honneth pursues (...) his path-breaking work on recognition by exploring the moral experiences of disrespect that underpin the conduct of social and political critique. What we might conceive of as a striving for social recognition initially appears in a negative form as the experience of humiliation or disrespect. Honneth argues that disrespect constitutes the systematic key to a comprehensive theory of recognition that seeks to clarify the sense in which institutionalized patterns of social recognition generate justified demands on the way subjects treat each other. This new book by one of the leading social and political philosophers of our time will be of particular interest to students and scholars in social and political theory and philosophy. (shrink)
Thoroughly revised, this new edition of CriticalTheory of Technology rethinks the relationships between technology, rationality, and democracy, arguing that the degradation of labor--as well as of many environmental, educational, and political systems--is rooted in the social values that preside over technological development. It contains materials on political theory, but the emphasis has shifted to reflect a growing interest in the fields of technology and cultural studies.
The struggle against liberalism in the totalitarian view of the state.--The concept of essence.--The affirmative character of culture.--Philosophy and criticaltheory.--On hedonism.--Industrialization and capitalism in the work of Max Weber.--Love mystified; a critique of Norman O. Brown and a reply to Herbert Marcuse by Norman O. Brown.--Aggressiveness in advanced industrial society.
Introduction : the politics of our selves -- Foucault, subjectivity, and the enlightenment : a critical reappraisal -- The impurity of practical reason : power and autonomy in Foucault -- Dependency, subordination, and recognition : Butler on subjection -- Empowering the lifeworld? autonomy and power in Habermas -- Contextualizing criticaltheory -- Engendering criticaltheory.
This book is the first comprehensive guide and introduction to the central theorists in the post-marxist intellectual tradition. In jargon free language it seeks to unpack, explain, and review many of the key figures behind the rethinking of the legacy of Marx and Marxism in theory and practice. Key thinkers covered include Cornelius Castoriadis, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Deleuze and Guattari, Laclau and Mouffe, Agnes Heller, Jacques Derrida, Jurgen Habermas and post-Marxist feminism. Underlying the whole text is the central question: What (...) is Post-Marxism? Each chapter covers a key thinker or contribution and thus can be read as a stand alone introduction to the principal aspects of their approach. Each chapter is also followed by a summary of key points with a guide to further reading. Key Thinkers from CriticalTheory to Post-Marxism provides an ideal introduction to a hitherto complex subject and will be essential reading for all students of contemporary social and political inquiry today. (shrink)
Foucault contra Habermas is an incisive examination of, and a comprehensive introduction to, the debate between Foucault and Habermas over the meaning of enlightenment and modernity. It reprises the key issues in the argument between criticaltheory and genealogy and is organised around three complementary themes: defining the context of the debate; examining the theoretical and conceptual tools used; and discussing the implications for politics and criticism. In a detailed reply to Habermas' Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, this volume (...) explains the difference between Habermas' philosophical practice (the transcendental critique) and Foucault's (the historical 'exercise'), between the analytics of truth and the politics of truth. Many of the most difficult arguments in the exchange are subject to a detailed critical analysis. This examination also includes discussion of the ethics of dialogue; the practice of criticism; the politics of recognition, and the function of civil society and democracy. Lucid and accessible - comprising the work of a diverse international and interdisciplinary group of scholars - Foucault contra Habermas will be essential reading for students of Social Theory; Politics; and Philosophy. (shrink)
Now in its second edition, this collection is an intelligent, accessible overview of the entire CriticalTheory Tradition, written by one of the leading experts on the subject. Filled with original insights and valuable historical narratives, this work is a contribution that furthers the idea and spirit of criticaltheory as it weaves together a narrative from a series of examinations of the thoughts of many of the most important left Western intellectuals of the twentieth century. (...) Covering the work of major philosophical thinkers such as Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and Habermas and revisiting the contributions of lesser-known figures such as Karl Korsch and Ernst Bloch, Bronner measures the writing of these theorists against each other, postmodernist philosophers and the critical tradition reaching back to Hegel, and then connects the history of criticaltheory with important historical events and develops in the twentieth century. Of CriticalTheory and Its Theorists presents new insights useful to experienced scholars and offers clear summaries for students making this book an ideal introduction to the debates surrounding one of the most important intellectual traditions of the 20th Century. (shrink)
The present paper contributes to a growing body of philosophical, sociological, and historical analyses of recent nanoscale science and technology. Through a close examination of the origins of contemporary nanotech efforts, their ambitions, and strategic uses, it also aims to provide the basis for a criticaltheory of emerging technologies more generally, in particular in relation to their alleged convergence in terms of goals and outcomes. The emergence, allure, and implications of nanotechnology, it is argued, can only be (...) fully appreciated if one looks beyond its immediate technical and scientific payoffs to its infrastructural and ideological aspects. While nanotechnology aims to reshape the world 'atom by atom', its most tangible result so far has been the profound effect it has had on the organization of science-at-large, not least as the result of a thorough reshaping of the 'soft' funding infrastructure that places signifi cant constraints on the pursuit of long-term scientific research programmes. The paper concludes by noting a persistent, and perhaps deepening, gap between the utopian visions of some of nanotechnology's most vocal proponents and the realities of contemporary nanotechnological practice, which continue to be marked by global inequities. (shrink)
This accessible and wide-ranging introduction to criticaltheory provides a comprehensive overview of the practice, role, and importance of theory across the humanities and social sciences. It not only maps a notoriously complex area, but it also enables the reader to take the arguments and apply them in practice. Starting with an explanation of how theory relies on implicit assumptions that inform interpretations, the book moves on to depict the long-term philosophical problems that have fed into (...) much 20th century thinking and also more recent debates. The philosophical grounds of contemporary thought are traced from Plato through Descartes to the work of Heidegger and Freud and on to recent developments in structuralism and deconstruction that critically revise many of the previous terms of debate. (shrink)
Jurgen Habermas' construction of a critical social theory of society grounded in communicative reason is one of the very few real philosophical inventions of recent times that demands and repays extended engagement. In this elaborate and sympathetic study which places Habermas' project in the context of criticaltheory as a whole past and future, J. M. Bernstein argues that despite its undoubted achievements, it contributes to the very problems of ethical dislocation and meaninglessness it aims to (...) diagnose and remedy. Bernstein further argues that the precise character of the failures of Habermas' program demonstrate the necessity for a return to the first generation criticaltheory of Adorno. Reading across nearly the whole range of Habermas' corpus, Recovering Ethical Life traces the development of the theory of communicative reason from its inception in Knowledge and Human Interests through its elaboration in The Theory of Communicative Action and into its defense against postmodernism in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity . In separate chapters Habermas' readings of Freud, Durkheim amd Mead, Adorno and Foucault, Castoriadis and Taylor are critically examined. The focus of Bernstein's analyses, however, is always problem centered and thematic rather than textual psychoanalytic theory as an account of self knowledge, the competing claims of ethical identity and moral reason, the place of judgment in practical reason, and the debate between philosophies of language based communities versus those oriented towards world-disclosure. Criticaltheory is unique among current philosophies in engaging with the problems of social injustice and nihilism by siding with an abstract moral reason that forfeits the processes of intersubjective recognition it intended to salvage. Even in the fine grain of Habermas' account of performative contradictions and the theory of discourses of application, Bernstein perceives a squandering of the resources of an ethical life in need of transfiguration. (shrink)
Containing over 750 in-depth entries, this is the most wide-ranging and up-to-date dictionary of criticaltheory available. It covers the whole range of criticaltheory, including the Frankfurt school, cultural materialism, cultural studies, gender studies, film studies, literary theory, hermeneutics, historical materialism, internet studies, and sociopolitical criticaltheory. Entries clearly explain even the most complex of theoretical discourses, such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, deconstruction, and postmodernism. There are biographies of important figures in the (...) field, with feature entries for those who have heavily influenced areas of the discipline, e.g. Deleuze. -/- Entries are fully cross-referenced and contain further reading where appropriate. To provide extra information this edition features an appendix of recommended web links, which are accessible via the Dictionary of CriticalTheory companion website, where they are also checked regularly and kept up to date. -/- Covering all aspects of the subject from globalization and race studies, to queer theory and feminism, this multidisciplinary A-Z is essential for students of literary and cultural studies and is useful for anyone studying a humanity subject requiring a knowledge of theory. (shrink)
Modern technology is more than a neutral tool: it is the framework of our civilization and shapes our way of life. Social critics claim that we must choose between this way of life and human values. CriticalTheory of Technology challenges that pessimistic cliche. This pathbreaking book argues that the roots of the degradation of labor, education, and the environment lie not in technology per se but in the cultural values embodied in its design. Rejecting such popular solutions (...) as economic simplicity or spiritual renewal, Feenberg presents a compelling argument for broader democratic participation in technological choices. This book will be of special interest to scholars and students of philosophy, sociology, contemporary Marxism, and CriticalTheory. (shrink)
Introduction: the question of reason -- The Frankfurt School critique of reason -- Habermas's communicative rationality -- Macintyre's tradition-constituted reason -- A substantive reason -- Beyond relativism: reasonable progress and learning from -- Conclusion: toward a Thomistic-Aristotelian criticaltheory of society.
CriticalTheory constitutes one of the major intellectual traditions of the twentieth century, and is centrally important for philosophy, political theory, aesthetics and theory of art, the study of modern European literatures and music, the history of ideas, sociology, psychology, and cultural studies. In this volume an international team of distinguished contributors examines the major figures in CriticalTheory, including Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin, and Habermas, as well as lesser known but important thinkers such (...) as Pollock and Neumann. The volume surveys the shared philosophical concerns that have given impetus to CriticalTheory throughout its history, while at the same time showing the diversity among its proponents that contributes so much to its richness as a philosophical school. The result is an illuminating overview of the entire history of CriticalTheory in the twentieth century, an examination of its central conceptual concerns, and an in-depth discussion of its future prospects. (shrink)
Continental Philosophy of Social Science demonstrates the unique and autonomous nature of the continental approach to social science and contrasts it with the Anglo-American tradition. Yvonne Sherratt argues for the importance of an historical understanding of the Continental tradition in order to appreciate its individual, humanist character. Examining the key traditions of hermeneutic, genealogy, and criticaltheory, and the texts of major thinkers such as Gadamer, Ricoeur, Derrida, Nietzsche, Foucault, the Early Frankfurt School and Habermas, she also contextualizes (...) contemporary developments within strands of thought stemming back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Sherratt shows how these modes of thinking developed through medieval Christian thought into the Enlightenment and Romantic eras, before becoming mainstays of twentieth-century disciplines. Continental Philosophy of Social Science will serve as the essential textbook for courses in philosophy or social sciences. (shrink)
Introduction -- The dialectic's narrow margin: film noir between Adorno and Hegel -- On criticaltheory's dialectical dilemma -- a configuration pregnant with tension: Fritz Lang for criticaltheory -- Coda: the enjoyment of film in theory.
The topic of recognition has come to occupy a central place in contemporary debates in social and political theory. Rooted in Hegel's work, developed by George Herbert Mead and Charles Taylor, it has been given renewed expression in the recent program for CriticalTheory developed by Axel Honneth in his book The Struggle for Recognition. Honneth's research program offers an empirically insightful way of reflecting on emancipatory struggles for greater justice and a powerful theoretical tool for generating (...) a conception of justice and the good that enables the normative evaluation of such struggles. (shrink)
Criticaltheory has left an indelible mark on postwar social thought. But what are the relations between criticaltheory and 'the cultural turn' ? How did criticaltheory inform later French critical theorists, such as Lefebvre, Barthes and Baudrillard? This accomplished and accessible book: - Demonstrates the origins of criticaltheory in the Marxian analysis of the capitalist mode of production and Freudian psychoanalysis - Clearly explains the main achievements of (...) class='Hi'>criticaltheory - Elucidates how criticaltheory defines culture as a system that constrains and alienates the individual - Explores the potential for social change and personal emancipation in the critical heritage. The author locates the importance of myth and reason, the significance of sexuality, the place of work, the difference between art and entertainment, the nature of everyday life and the relationship between knowledge and action. The result is a lucid and informative text which will appeal to all students interested in the critical traditions of social thought. (shrink)
Liberation philosophy and democratic struggles -- The quest for the revolutionary subject : the early Marcuse -- The retrieval of Eros and the quest for a new sensibility -- Marcuse and the problem of intersubjectivity : beyond drive theory -- One-dimensional society and the demise of dialectical thinking -- Spectres of liberation : beyond one-dimensional man -- Liberal democracy and its limits : the challenge of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation -- Marcuse and discourse ethics -- Liberation and (...) the democratic vision : educating for a new sensibility. (shrink)
The second edition of Cultural Studies and the New Humanities provides a comprehensive overview of issues in the humanities at the turn of the new millennium, providing historical background, defining key terms, and introducing the ideas of key thinkers. This second edition has been thoroughly revised and updated, and new chapters have been added about the rise of visual cultures and the fierce contemporary debate between identity politics and queer theory.
This acclaimed book is the first comparative evaluation of two primary sources of the Western Marxist tradition: Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts and History and Class Consciousness by Georg Luk'acs. Andrew Feenberg offers a new interpretation of the theories of alienation and reification as the basis of a Marxist approach to the cultural contradictions of contemporary society.
O artigo argumenta que o destino da democracia e o futuro do pensamento liberacionista na América Latina dependem de uma autocompreensão dos conceitos correlativos de raça, etnicidade e identidade cultural. A fim de reformular o que seria uma filosofia latino-americana da libertação, é mister revisitar versões autóctones da análise marxista e da teoria crítica na sua própria gênese e produção fenomenológica de significados.
From Romanticism to CriticalTheory explores the philosophical roots of literary theory through the traditions of German philosophy that started with the Romantic reactions to Kant. Andrew Bowie traces the continuation of the Romantic tradition, culminating in Heidegger's approaches to art and truth, the work of Adorno and Benjamin and the Frankfurt School's CriticalTheory.
Bhaskar's "Spiritual turn" : logical and conceptual problems -- Meta-reality, critical realism, and Marxism -- Secularism, agnosticism, and theism -- Critical realism, transcendence, and God -- Humanism, spiritualism, and criticaltheory.
This paper begins by defending the twofold relevance, political and theoretical, of the notion of social suffering. Social suffering is a notion politics cannot do without today, as it seems indispensable to describe all the aspects of contemporary injustice. As such, it has been taken up in a number of significant research programmes in different social sciences (sociology, anthropology, social psychology). The notion however poses significant conceptual problems as it challenges disciplinary boundaries traditionally set up to demarcate individual and social (...) phenomena. I argue that philosophy has a role to play in the attempt to integrate the diverging perspectives stemming from the social sciences. I attempt to show that, as it engages with the social sciences to account for the conceptual and normative issues thrown open by the question of social suffering, philosophy in fact retrieves the very idea of criticaltheory, as a conjugated critique of social reality and of its knowledge. I conclude by showing how the question of social suffering then becomes a useful criterion to distinguish between the different existing approaches in criticaltheory. (shrink)
This paper explores the complex relation between Hegel and Habermas. Centring the discussion around the key themes of philosophy, modernity and political philosophy, it argues for a gradual re-approachment of Habermas towards Hegel. In the final section on criticaltheory, it takes up the question of the spirit of this theory to offer a more trenchant critique of Habermas' theoretical short-coming from this perspective.
In this paper it is argued that Habermas' critique of German Idealism is misguided and that his rejection of the philosophy of the subject is unjustified. CriticalTheory needs to recognise the importance of subjectivity for all social philosophy if its theoretical aims are to be achieved. In order to demonstrate the relevance of subjectivity to CriticalTheory the essay draws on analytic philosophy of mind and on the work of Manfred Frank and Dieter Henrich.
The aim of the present paper is to show that Hegel’s concept of personal respect is of great interest to contemporary CriticalTheory. The author first analyzes this notion as it appears in the Philosophy of Right and then offers a new interpretation of the conceptual relation between personal respect and the institutions of (private) property and (capitalist) markets. In doing so, he shows why Hegel’s concept of personal respect allows us to understand markets as possible institutionalizations of (...) this kind of recognition, and why it is compatible with a critique of neoliberal capitalism. He argues that due to these features Hegel’s notion of personal respect is of great interest to theoreticians within the tradition of criticaltheory. (shrink)
In this paper, I take issue with Axel Honneth's proposal for renewing criticaltheory in terms of the normative ideal of 'self-realisation'. Honneth's proposal involves a break with criticaltheory's traditional preoccupation with the meaning and potential of modern reason, and the way he makes that break depletes the critical resources of his alternative to Habermasian criticaltheory, leaving open the question of what form the renewal of criticaltheory should take.
Axel Honneth makes initial and promising steps towards what could be called a two-level account of recognition, according to which the normatively substantial forms of recognition represent various manners in which the primordial acquaintedness with others is expressed. It will be argued that Honneth's promising approach must be revised in regard to the issue of intentionality, which may be achieved by reference to earlier critical theorists such as Adorno and Arendt. With such a foundation, criticaltheory can (...) enter into new fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue. (shrink)
This paper explores the paradox of the Frankfurt School's CriticalTheory where the notion of "criticaltheory" became identified with aesthetics and asks whether the disappearance of the political dimension of criticaltheory was necessary.This disappearance of the political also presents some uncomfortable affinities between it and postmodernism. But in the more sober world after 1989, post-communism poses more relevant questions than post-modernism for an assessment of the history of the Frankfurt School.The political project (...) of the old Frankfurt School has to be revivified - or at least given a decent burial. (shrink)
From the early 1990s when the EZLN (the Zapatistas), led by Subcommandte Marcos, first made use of the Internet to the late 1990s with the defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Trade and Investment and the anti-WTO protests in Seattle, Quebec, and Genoa, it became evident that new, qualitatively different kinds of social protest movements were emergent. These new movements seemed diffuse and unstructured, yet at the same time, they forged unlikely coalitions of labor, environmentalists, feminists, peace, and global social (...) justice activists collectively critical of the adversities of neoliberal globalization and its associated militarism. Moreover, the rapid emergence and worldwide proliferation of these movements, organized and coordinated through the Internet, raised a number of questions that require rethinking social movement theory. Specifically, the electronic networks that made contemporary globalization possible also led to the emergence of "virtual public spheres" and, in turn, "Internetworked Social Movements." Social movement theory has typically focused on local structures, leadership, recruitment, political opportunities, and strategies from framing issues to orchestrating protests. While this tradition still offers valuable insights, we need to examine unique aspects of globalization that prompt such mobilizations, as well as their democratic methods of participatory organization and clever use of electronic media. Moreover, their emancipatory interests become obscured by the "objective" methods of social science whose "neutrality" belies a tacit assent to the status quo. It will be argued that the Frankfurt School of CriticalTheory offers a multi-level, multi-disciplinary approach that considers the role of literacy and media in fostering modernist bourgeois movements as well as anti- modernist fascist movements. This theoretical tradition offers a contemporary framework in which legitimacy crises are discussed and participants arrive at consensual truth claims; in this process, new forms of empowered, activist identities are fostered and negotiated that impel cyber activism. (shrink)
The attempt to connect philosophy and social hope has been one of the key distinguishing features of criticaltheory as a tradition of enquiry. This connection has been questioned forcefully from the perspective of a post-philosophical pragmatism, as articulated by Rorty. In this article I consider two strategies that have been adopted by critical theorists in seeking to reject Affection Rorty's suggestion that we should abandon the attempt to ground social hope in philosophical reason. We consider argumentative (...) strategies of the philosophical anthropologist and of the rational proceduralist. Once the exchanges between Rorty and these two strands of criticaltheory have been reconstructed and assessed, an alternative perspective emerges. It is argued that philosophical reasoning best helps to sustain social hope in a rapidly changing world when we consider it in terms of the practice of democratic criticism. (shrink)
This paper presents a critical comparative reading of Ulrich Beck and Herbert Marcuse. Beck's thesis on 'selfcritical society' and the concept of 'sub-politics' are evaluated within the framework of Marcusian criticaltheory. We argue for the continued relevance of Marcuse for the project of emancipatory politics. We recognise that a focus upon the imminent and spontaneous possibilities for radical social change within the 'sub-political' is a useful provocation to the high abstractionism of much criticaltheory, (...) but suggest that such possibilities are better captured in a Marcusian theoretical frame than they are in Beck's account. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine two turns towards the idea of the creative imagination in contemporary criticaltheory in the works of Axel Honneth and Cornelius Castoriadis. Honneth's work subsumes the idea of the creative imagination under the paradigm of mutual recognition. Castoriadis constructs the idea of the creative imagination from an ontological perspective. However, Castoriadis' idea of the primary autism of the creative imagination can be thrown into relief by Hegel's Jena Lectures. Hegel's and (...) Castoriadis' work opens onto a subjectivity in tension, that is, a subjectivity that is forged out of a combination of subjective interiority, as well as the patterns of interaction that are multidimensional in their scope and create social spaces that force the subject beyond an initial closure. (shrink)
This paper focuses on a specific aspect of political imaginaries: political myth. What are political myths? What role do they play within today commoditised political imaginaries? What are the conditions for setting up a critique of them? We will address these questions, by putting forward a theory of political myth which situates itself between psychoanalysis and political philosophy, in line with the tradition of criticaltheory that many still associate with the name of the Frankfurt School. We (...) will first discuss the notion of political myth by illustrating the contribution of both disciplines to its understanding and then, through a discussion of the notion of social unconscious, we will apply this analysis to a contemporary example of political myth, that of a clash of civilisations. (shrink)
One way of providing a focus for criticaltheory today is to articulate those substantive and robust norms of egalitarian justice that would appear to be presupposed by the idea of a republican and democratic constitutional order. It is suggested here that democratic justice requires the equalisation of effective communicative freedom among all structurally constituted social groups (SCSGs) and that this will have far-reaching implications that entail the deconstruction of all social hierarchies in both domestic and global orders. (...) This argument is presented in three sections. The first defends the focus on groups rather than individuals in theorising democratic justice. The second intervenes critically in contemporary debates surrounding the theoretical relation between various aspects of justice including the demands of redistribution, recognition and political empowerment. The third turns to the challenges for criticaltheory presented by a complex and multifaceted process of globalisation and it defends a qualified form of cosmopolitanism and highlights the need for a radical democratisation of the international order. (shrink)
In the first part of the paper I consider the relative neglect of hope in the tradition of criticaltheory. I attribute this neglect to a low estimation of the cognitive, aesthetic, and moral value of hope, and to the strong—but, I argue, contingent—association that holds between hope and religion. I then distinguish three strategies for thinking about the justification of social hope; one which appeals to a notion of unfulfilled or frustrated natural human capacities, another which invokes (...) a providential order, and a third which questions the very appropriateness of justification, turning instead to a notion of ungroundable hope. Different senses of ungroundable hope are distinguished and by way of conclusion I briefly consider their relevance for the project of critique today. (shrink)
This paper focuses on a specific aspect of political imaginaries: political myth. What are political myths? What role do they play within today's commoditized political imaginaries? What are the conditions for setting up a critique of them? We will address these questions, by putting forward a theory of political myth which situates itself between psycho analysis and political philosophy, in line with the tradition of criticaltheory that many still associate with the name of the Frankfurt School. (...) We will first discuss the notion of political myth by illustrating the contribution of both disciplines to its understanding and then, through a discussion of the notion of social unconscious, we will apply this analysis to a contemporary example of political myth, that of a clash of civilizations. Content Type Journal Article Pages 94-112 Authors Chiara Bottici, Department of Philosophy, New School for Social Research, New York Angela Kühner, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany Journal Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy & Social Theory Online ISSN 1568-5160 Print ISSN 1440-9917 Journal Volume Volume 13 Journal Issue Volume 13, Number 1 / 2012. (shrink)
This paper explains the genealogical method as it is understood and employed in contemporary Continental philosophy. Using a pair of terms from Bernard Williams, genealogy is contrasted with phenomenology as an `unmasking' as opposed to a `vindicatory' method. The genealogical method is also compared with the method of Ideologiekritik and recent criticaltheory. Although genealogy is usually thought to be allergic to universals, in fact Foucault, Derrida, and Bourdieu do not shun universals, even if they approach them with (...) caution. The conclusion is that genealogy is a viable and productive approach to social criticism and self-transformation. (shrink)
The criticaltheory of society of the Frankfurt School continues to excite interest and controversy. The critical theorists have deeply influenced contemporary social theory, philosophy, communications theory and research, cultural theory, and other disciplines for six decades. The dream of a interdisciplinary social theory continues to animate the sociological imagination. In recent decades there have been many different attempts to articulate the connections between the economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions of contemporary society (...) in the spirit of criticaltheory. (shrink)
My goal here is to come to terms with the Enlightenment as the horizon of critical social science. First, I consider in more detail the understanding of the Enlightenment in CriticalTheory, particularly in its conception of the sociality of reason. Second, I develop an account of freedom in terms of human powers, along the lines of recent capability conceptions that link freedom to the development of human powers, including the power to interpret and create norms. Finally, (...) I show the ways in which the social sciences can be moral sciences in the Enlightenment sense. This account provides us with a coherent Enlightenment standard by which to judge institutions as promoting development, understood in terms of the capabilities necessary for freedom. The relevant social science in this area might include the robust generalization that there has never been a famine in a democratic society. (shrink)
In the humanities, the term criticaltheory has had many meanings in different historical contexts. From the end of World War II through the 1960s, the term signified the use of critical and theoretical approaches within major disciplines of the humanities such as art history, literary studies, and more broadly, cultural studies. From the 1970s, the term entered into the rapidly evolving area of film and media studies. Criticaltheory took on at the same time (...) a more specialized sense describing the work of the Frankfurt School that itself rapidly spread through many disciplines of the humanities and social sciences in the English-speaking world from the 1970s on. (shrink)
This paper explores the sense in which modern societies can be said to be rational. Social rationality cannot be understood on the model of an idealized image of scientific method. Neither science nor society conforms to this image. Nevertheless, critique is routinely silenced by neo-liberal and technocratic arguments that appeal to social simulacra of science. This paper develops a critical strategy for addressing the resistance of rationality to rational critique. Romantic rejection of reason has proven less effective than strategies (...) that conceptualize modern artefacts, systems, and organizations as rationally underdetermined. This approach first appears in Marx's analysis of capitalist economics. Although he lacks the concept of underdetermination, Marx gets around the silencing effect of social rationality with something very much like it in his discussion of the length of the working day. Frankfurt School CriticalTheory later blended romantic elements with Marxian ones in a suggestive but ambiguous mixture. The concept of underdetermination reappears in contemporary science and technology studies, now clearly articulated and philosophically and sociologically elaborated. But somewhere along the way the critical thrust was diluted. Criticaltheory of technology attempts to recover that thrust. Here its approach is generalized to cover the three main forms of social rationality. (shrink)
This article engages Axel Honneth’s recent work on Georg Lukács’ concept of reification in order to formulate a politically relevant and historically specific critique of capitalism that is applicable to theorizing contemporary democratic practice. I argue that Honneth’s attempt to reorient the critique of reification within the terms of a theory of recognition has done so at the cost of sacrificing the core of the concept, which forged a connection between the socio-political analysis of capitalist domination and an analysis (...) of the unengaged, spectatorial stance of human beings toward the world, showing how they together impede emancipatory social transformation. In order to accomplish the unfinished task of rendering the critique of reification applicable to contemporary criticaltheory, I seek to synthesize the advantages of Honneth’s approach, which focuses on the normative aspects of the critique of reification, with Lukács’ emphasis on the practical, political-economic dimensions of reification and the historically specific pathologies of the capitalist social form. (shrink)
In this article I argue that a criticaltheory of whiteness is necessary, though not sufficient, to the formulation of an adequate explanatory account of the mechanisms of racial oppression in the modern world. In order to explain how whiteness underwrites systems of racial oppression and how it is reproduced, the central functional properties of whiteness are identified. I propose that understanding whiteness as a structuring property of racialized social systems best explains these functional properties. Given the variety (...) of conceptions of whiteness in the literature, the several uses of the term are analysed and it is shown that there is a unifying concept underlying these various senses of whiteness. Lastly, some of the implications of this account of whiteness for anti-racist engagement are considered. Key Words: criticaltheory Anthony Giddens Jürgen Habermas race racial contract racism social structure white supremacy whiteness. (shrink)
In this paper I indicate the reasons why criticaltheory needs an alternative conception of critique, and then I sketch out what such an alternative should be. The conception of critique I develop involves a time-responsive redisclosure of the world capable of disclosing new or previously unnoticed possibilities, possibilities in light of which agents can change their self-understanding and their practices, and change their orientation to the future and the past.
One of the central issues in political philosophy is the problem of perspective: if there is a dispute as to how justice is to be defined, or a dispute as to whether a particular situation is unjust, how do we determine who is right? I reject the claim that an idealized speech situation or a transcendental perspective can legitimately be invoked to resolve such disputes. In their place, I discuss criticaltheory's commitment to the position that all perspectives (...) are ideo logical, partial, and rooted in interests. I then discuss Lukács's notion that, given that ideology and interests are ineluctable, certain per spectives are epistemologically privileged (though not transcenden tal). I discuss the notion of the preferential option for the poor in liberation theology, as an instance of such a claim of epistemological privilege. I argue that this has implications for the concept of alterity, and specifically for the role of the Other in a community of discourse. Finally, I discuss Lyotard's notion of incommensurable phrase regi mens, and the particular kind of harm which is done by exclusion from a discursive community. Key Words: criticaltheory epistemological privilege liberation theology Lukács Lyotard. (shrink)
Although Judith Butler’s theory of the performativity of gender has been highly influential in feminist theory, queer theory, cultural studies, and some areas of philosophy, it has yet to receive its due from critical social theorists.1 This oversight is especially problematic given the crucial insights into the study of power – a central concept for critical social theory – that can be gleaned from Butler’s work. Her analysis is somewhat unique among discussions of power (...) in its attempt to theorize simultaneously both the features of cultural domination in contemporary societies and the possibilities of resistance to and subversion of such domination. Although I will maintain here that this attempt is not entirely successful, I nevertheless argue that Butler’s account makes crucial contributions to a feminist criticaltheory of power; as a result, it merits much more serious attention from critical theorists. (shrink)
This article investigates the importance of the evolution of Adornos interpretation of Husserl for the formation of his own philosophy. The weakness of Husserl notion of immediate data is revealed within the light of Hans Corneliuss Transcendentale Systematik . When Adorno discovers in his Habilitationsschrift the importance of the social setting and ideological function of theory, he departs from Cornelius transcendentalism as norm for his reflection - and this insight is deployed against Husserl. Henceforth, Husserls philosophy is interpreted as (...) idealist, as a prima philosophia , as a philosophy of identity and totality and ultimately in service of the totalitarian political tendencies Key Words: Theodor Adorno Hans Cornelius criticaltheory first philosophy Edmund Husserl phenomenology transcendental idealism. (shrink)
Habermas has argued that many of the endemic socio- economic problems of Western society are either symptoms or prod ucts of a 'lopsided' process of cultural rationalization, one that has emphasized instrumental forms of rationality over communicative. But other than presenting a rather general typology of lifeworld pathologies, Habermas has not done much to specify what these problems might be, nor has he provided any 'middle-range' analysis of the mechanisms through which they might be generated. This paper discusses some of (...) the ways in which, consistent with Haber mas's general framework, rational choice theory can be used for pre cisely this task. In this analysis, rational choice theory is not presented as a comprehensive theory of action, but is employed as a critical- diagnostic tool that allows the theorist to identify undesirable social interaction patterns that arise from a broader instrumentalization of the lifeworld. Key Words: criticaltheory Habermas instrumental rationality market failure rational choice theory. (shrink)
Critical thinking, considered as a version of informallogic, must consider emotions and personal attitudesin assessing assertions and conclusions in anyanalysis of discourse. It must therefore presupposesome notion of the self. Criticaltheory may be seenas providing a substantive and non-neutral positionfor the exercise of critical thinking. It thereforemust presuppose some notion of the self. This paperargues for a Foucauldean position on the self toextend criticaltheory and provide a particularposition on the self for (...) class='Hi'>critical thinking. Thisposition on the self is developed from moretraditional accounts of the self from Descartes toSchopenhauer, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein. (shrink)
This article investigates a significant problem in contemporary criticaltheory, namely its failure to address effectively the possibility that a campaign of political violence may be a legitimate means of fighting grave injustice. Having offered a working definition of 'political violence', I argue that criticaltheory should be focused on experiences of in justice rather than on ideals of justice. I then explore the reasons as to why, save for some intriguing remarks on retrospective legitimation, J (...) rgen Habermas has not addressed this issue directly. While Axel Honneth's recognition theory may have greater potential here, the absence of explicit consideration of the matter by him leaves considerable work to do. I introduce five questions in the concluding section that provide a starting point in setting out an appropriately stringent, normative test for claims that support violent action against injustice. (shrink)
The categories and contours of a normative social theory are prefigured by its ‘anthropological’ presuppositions. The discourse/communicative-theoretic basis of Habermasian theory was prefigured by a strong anthropological demarcation between an instrumentally structured realm of science, technology and labor versus a normatively structured realm of social interaction. An alternative anthropology, bolstered by current work in the empirical sciences, finds fundamental normative needs for orientation and ‘compensation’ also to be embedded in embodied material practices. An emerging anthropologically informed concept of (...) skill that goes beyond old manual versus intellectual dichotomies and brings forth internal criteria of autonomy and authenticity can serve as a new bridge between categories of social justice, such as Sen and Nussbaum’s basic human ‘capabilities’, and new cutting-edge work in the empirical human sciences and thereby provide CriticalTheory with a renewed point of departure that is both normatively and descriptively rich, for advancing its dialectical, historical mission. (shrink)
This article addresses, from a Frankfurt School perspective on law identified with Franz Neumann and more recently Habermas, the attack upon the principles of war criminality formulated at the Nuremberg trials by the increasingly influential legal and political theory of Carl Schmitt. It also considers the contradictions within certain of the defence arguments that Schmitt himself resorted to when interrogated as a possible war crimes defendant at Nuremberg. The overall argument is that a distinctly internal, or “immanent”, form of (...) critique is required of Schmitt's position, in which its is found wanting even on its own terms. In principle, the application of this dialectical mode of critique can allow a genuine debate to emerge between those seeking to continue both the Schmittian and criticaltheory traditions, whilst safeguarding the latter from the dangers of formulating polemical interventions that are, in effect, counterproductive to their own intentions. (shrink)
Nikolas Kompridis has recently argued that the future of criticaltheory depends upon a critical appropriation of Heidegger’s concept of ‘world disclosure’, and hence on a transformation of criticaltheory into a form of ‘world-disclosing critique’ oriented towards the future. This article engages in a critical dialogue with Kompridis' account of world-disclosing critique, arguing that criticaltheory should embrace it as an innovative way of retrieving the forgotten tradition of aesthetic critique of (...) modernity. (shrink)
Nature has been viewed as a curative for the problems of urbanized society, and primitivism has been forwarded as a viable alternative to modification of the industrial world. Criticaltheory maintains that the current phase of social development tends toward 'total administration', and that escapes to nature are them selves administered and controlled by the larger society. Back-to-nature is critiqued as an unproductive strategy whose middle-class origins render it élitist.
In the rapidly changing arena of global politics today, nothing looms larger than the framework technology provides in determining the cultural, political, and economic fate of a people. Japanese philosopher Kiyoshi Miki observed already in the early 1940s that technology is not merely a sophisticated manipulation of tools but that it is fundamentally a “form of action” expressing a cultural and political orientation through the means of material production.1 The power of technology, according to Miki, has to do with its (...) ability to make our imagination concrete. But in this process, our values are concretized as well, so while the scientific principles that are used in engineering might be value neutral, the decision-making and actual implementation are always embedded in historical, aesthetic, political, and cultural meaning. If this is true, then a philosophy which claims to theorize about the human condition must also address the realm of praxis mediated by technology. A robust philosophical account of our historical development and political struggles would have to consider the real changes technology makes in material conditions and its long- term impact, as these are clearly existential manifestations of our cognitive grasp of the world. CriticalTheory has made an important contribution to analyzing political struggles and examining the various conditions of oppression and cultural transformation. Beginning with the early Frankfurt School thinkers to Marcuse in the 1960s and Habermas in more recent times, updated approaches today cross diverse grounds— feminism, racetheory, and globalization, among others. However, despite the fact that technology has indeed been a fundamental medium of culture and politics and many discussions touch upon the topic, the link between a robust critical political theory and technology has been a relatively unexplored territory. Marcuse produced a rather dystopian account of technocracy in the 1960s, but with the exception Andrew Feenberg who has most consistently worked on this theme, a positive connection between Critical.... (shrink)
Preface -- Introduction: the scandal of reason and the paradox of judgment -- Political judgment and the vocation of criticaltheory -- Criticaltheory: political judgment as ideologiekritik -- Philosophical liberalism: reasonable judgment -- Liberalism and criticaltheory in dispute -- Judgment unbound: Arendt -- From critique of power to a theory of critical judgment -- The political epistemology of judgment -- The critical consensus model -- Judgment, criticism, innovation -- Conclusion: (...) letting go of ideal theory. (shrink)
Debates between Habermas and the poststructuralists - specifically, Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard - over the nature of critiques of Enlightenment rationality and modernity are investigated in order to argue for an agenda for criticaltheory beyond the 'French Fries and the Frankfurter'.1 Part I interrogates key elements of Habermas' theory of communicative rationality in his reconstruction of Enlightenment modernity and his critique of the poststructuralists. This orients the discussion toward an evaluation of Habermas' neo-Kantianism, theory of (...) language (discourse ethics), and the 'critique' he employs in his bid to defend and complete the project of modernity. Key Words: criticaltheory Derrida Enlightenment modernity Foucault Habermas Lyotard Marx postmodernism debates. (shrink)
In this article we, the authors, outline the thematic concerns of our special issue of the Journal of Global Ethics . We argue for a need to engage with notions of violence from an interdisciplinary and transformative perspective. The theoretical framework that provides such a perspective is criticaltheory, broadly construed. Criticaltheory has always been concerned with the relation between practice and theory, as well as notions of violence. It is therefore surprising to note (...) that in the current critical theoretical debates a sustained engagement with the theme of violence has largely been sidelined. We argue that criticaltheory is not only fruitful for the study of conflict and violence, but also that such practical issues can shed and help further develop criticaltheory itself. (shrink)
Nikolas Kompridis' Critique and Disclosure is a sustained argument for the proposition that critical social theory in the tradition of the Frankfurt School is best carried forward by rejecting central aspects of Habermas' neo-Kantian version of it. The most promising future direction for criticaltheory according to Kompridis involves a reconsideration of the resources of hermeneutic phenomenology, especially renewed attention to the Heideggerian concept ‘disclosure’. To this end, Kompridis develops a distinctive dialectical version of this concept. (...) I agree that Kantian versions of criticaltheory are philosophically suspect, and that criticaltheory is most conceptually vital and politically trenchant when turned away from ‘discourse ethics' and the like. I am a bit less sanguine than is Kompridis with a turn to Heidegger, however, and raise several issues having to do with that aspect of Kompridis' account. This caution is not rooted simply in the historical fact that criticaltheory from its inception has attempted to immunize itself against phenomenology; it is rather a conceptual matter. In my judgment, Kompridis does not need to develop, as he does, an intricate account of overlap between what he holds best about criticaltheory and Heidegger’s ontology. If one were looking for historical antecedents that do not come freighted with what Horkheimer derided as ‘irrationalism’, one would do better to investigate early German Romanticism, in which there is an explicitly interpretive yet dialectical methodology on offer. Moreover, the central doctrines of Jena Romanticism exhibit more positive points of contact with the earlier, more skeptical forms of criticaltheory that Kompridis might favor, e.g. Adorno’s. (shrink)
Through rethinking the trajectory of criticaltheory, I suggest the need to reconsider its environmental possibilities. The criticaltheory of the Frankfurt School, usually overlooked in environmental circles, provides a fecund opening for social and environmental theory with its recognition that the multiple catastrophes of the twentieth century are not extrinsic to civilization but intrinsic to the rationality of the Enlightenment. That is, the promise of the scientific domination of nature and rational forms of social (...) organization simultaneously spawn the perils of environmental crises, fascism, genocide, world wars, and nuclear annihilation. With its theorizing of the domination of nature as involving the interconnection of humans and nature in a shared fate, the Frankfurt School provides a fundamentally ecocentric base for rethinking humanity-nature relations. Further, through its nuanced understanding of reason, criticaltheory provides a trenchant critique of instrumental reason and suggests judgment as the basis for a new ethic for humanity’s interactions with the natural world. (shrink)
Both New French Theory and CriticalTheory explode the boundaries established in the division of labor which separates our academic disciplines into such things as economics, political science, philosophy, sociology, etc. Both claim that there are epistemological and metaphysical problems with abstracting from the interconnectedness of phenomena in the world, or from our experience of it. On this view, philosophy, for example, that abstracts from sociology and economics, or political science that excludes, say, economics or culture from (...) its conceptual boundaries, is by nature one-sided, limited, and flawed. Both CriticalTheory and New French Theory therefore transgress established disciplinary boundaries and create new disciplines, theories, and discourses that avoid the deficiencies of the traditional academic division of labor. (shrink)
In its essence, CriticalTheory is Western Marxist thought with the emphasis moved from the liberation of the working class to broader issues of individual agency. CriticalTheory emerged in the 1920s from the work of the Frankfurt School, the circle of German-Jewish academics who sought to diagnose--and, if at all possible, cure--the ills of society, particularly fascism and capitalism. In this book, Stephen Eric Bronner provides sketches of famous and less famous representatives of the (...) class='Hi'>critical tradition (such as George Lukács and Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas) as well as many of its seminal texts and empirical investigations. -/- Though they shared a Marxist bent, the Frankfurt School's scholars came from a variety of fields--philosophy, economics, psychoanalysis, and even music--and they initially sought not only to do interdisciplinary work but also to combine theory with practice, criticism with empirical data. Forced by the rise of Hitler to flee to the United States, by the late 1930s the Frankfurt School left behind the emphasis on empiricism, beginning instead to specialize in philosophical inquiry into the nature of social control, which combined the work of Hegel, Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche. This VSI is ultimately organized around the cluster of concepts and themes that set criticaltheory apart from its more traditional philosophical competitors. Bronner explains and discusses concepts such as method and agency, alienation and reification, the culture industry and repressive tolerance, non-identity and utopia. He argues for the introduction of new categories and perspectives for illuminating the obstacles to progressive change and focusing upon hidden transformative possibilities. Only a critique of criticaltheory can render it salient for a new age. That is precisely what this very short introduction seeks to provide. (shrink)
The Routledge Companion of CriticalTheory is an indispensable aid for anyone approaching this exciting field of study for the first time. By exploring ideas from a diverse range of disciplines "theory" encourages us to develop a deeper understanding of how we approach the written word. This book defines what is generically referred to as "criticaltheory," and guides readers through some of the most complex and fundamental concepts in the field, ranging from Historicism to (...) Postmodernism, from Psychoanalytic Criticism to Race and Postcoloniality. Fully cross referenced throughout, the book encompasses manageable introductions to important ideas followed by a dictionary of terms and thinkers which students are likely to encounter. Further reading is offered to guide students to crucial primary essays and introductory chapters on each concept. (shrink)
Finland is internationally known as one of the leading centers of twentieth century analytic philosophy. This volume offers for the first time an overall survey of the Finnish analytic school. The rise of this trend is illustrated by original articles of Edward Westermarck, Eino Kaila, Georg Henrik von Wright, and Jaakko Hintikka. Contributions of Finnish philosophers are then systematically discussed in the fields of logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, ethics and social philosophy. Metaphilosophical reflections on (...) the nature of philosophy are highlighted by the Finnish dialogue between analytic philosophy, phenomenology, pragmatism, and criticaltheory. (shrink)
Authors have contrasted social change and history many times, especially in terms of the significance of the event in accounting for the broadest contours of human societies' evolution. After recasting Gerhard Lenski's ecological-evolutionary theory in a critical fashion, by emphasizing its engagement with alternativity and by introducing a different approach to structure, I reconsider the salience of the event in the developmentalist project and suggest that ecological-evolutionary theory can be quite helpful in posing new questions about an (...) eventful sociology. By rethinking communism's collapse in 1989 and terrorism's explosion in 2001 within Lenski's theoretical frame, one can suggest critical transformations of theory and research on the evolution of human societies. (shrink)