Giacomo Maria Arrigo
University Vita-Salute San Raffaele
«The world is about to get rid of morality, becoming total organization that is total destruction. Progress tends to culminate in a catastrophe». This few words sum up the fears of the late Horkheimer, who is increasingly worried about the effects of the dialectic of enlightenment. The fatal outcome of such dialectic has led the world to the brink of annihilation. According to Horkheimer, the root of the dialectic of enlightenment is an instrumental reason tending to the dominion (the dominion of man over nature and the dominion of man over man). With his theoretical production, Horkheimer has tried to prevent the disastrous effects of this instrumental reason, ending up framing the longing for the Totally Other. In our opinion, the Totally Other plays an anti-dialectic function over enlightenment, having the triple meaning of transcendence as other than immanence; of utopia as an other society than the present one; and of an other reason than the instrumental reason, as a promise of a thought that is not anymore allied to the dominion. A new interpretation of the Totally Other would free its critical power, and it would be a “negative” attempt (in the sense of negative theology) to prevent the catastrophe towards which we all are pushed by what Horkheimer calls the immanent logic of history.
Keywords Max Horkheimer  Critical theory  Teoria critica  Scuola di Francoforte
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