A Jamesian response to the dialectic of enlightenment

The purpose of this project is to advance the thesis that the notion of an appropriative self, reconstructed from the philosophy of William James, answers, in part, the concerns outlined in the Critical Theory of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Initially I focus on explicating Adorno and Horkheimer's diagnosis, that ideological consciousness is the product of the dialectic of enlightenment. According to their view, culture is a reconciliation of the ego's impulse to persist and regress. Only after such an expansive diagnosis can Adorno and Horkheimer suggest the possibility for social transformation. Next I concern myself with the straightforward task of carefully expositing the philosophical landscape of William James' radical empiricism. Finally I address the dialectic of enlightenment in terms of James' philosophy. Building on the foundations of radical empiricism, my thesis seeks to show how radical empiricism can accommodate Adorno and Horkheimer's metaphysical sensibilities, accelerating and expanding the diagnostic sweep of critical theory. This, I conclude, will involve James' notion of an appropriative self that actively counters the metaphysical forces at work in the dialectic of enlightenment
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