Critical Theory and the Challenge of Praxis: Beyond Reification
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This volume explores possibility of constructing a political outcome from the theory of the early years of the Frankfurt School, countering the commonly-made criticism that critical theory is highly speculative. With chapters exploring the work of figures central to the Frankfurt School, including Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Habermas and Honneth, Critical Theory and the Challenge of Praxis reveals that it is only with a fixed and dogmatic model of politics that critical theory is incompatible, and that it can in fact yield a rich variety of political models, ranging from new forms of Marxism to more contemporary â€˜dialogicalâ€™ models centred on the politics of identity. With attention to new ways of contrasting alienation and reification in contemporary forms of social organisation, this book demonstrates that the thought of the Frankfurt school can in fact be an invaluable tool not only for developing a critique of advanced capitalism, but also for originating alternative models of political praxis. As such, it will appeal to scholars of social and political theory, with interests in classical sociological thought and continental philosophy.
that even the smallest opportunity to escape from this cage has become a threat which must be immediately repressed. This totality has become so omni-pervasive that it can actually deceive us to the point of considering it the consequence of a “natural” state of things. But we should not judge Adorno’s theory as pessimistic for the “melancholy” through which he describes social totality, since for Adorno this situation is historically determined and false, and as such it can be subverted. The
to rest’ as onto-theological relics. 11 Wired Magazine, 16.07, June 23, 2008 (accessed August 2, 2014), http://archive. wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_theory. 12 I thank my colleague Scott Aiken for bringing this book to my attention. 13 Thomas Kunkel, “Paupers and Richlings,” LRB 36, July 3, 2014: 17–20. Kunkel’s criticism is decidedly a-historical, faulting Piketty, inter alia, for being an economist rather than a 19th–20th century political economist, such as Ricardo, Marx,
the limits to determinate negation as a methodological principle, Adorno also suggests that there are fragments of good in the world. Yet these appear only obliquely; they are glimpsed by those who resist (in thought, action, or both) injustice, unfreedom, intolerance, and oppression. Society’s rational potential manifests itself wherever individuals confront and contest the limits to their freedom, in their struggles against their status as mere cogs in the wheels of the economic machinery, or
Marcuse, “Nature and Revolution,” in Counterrevolution and Revolt (Boston, MA: Beacon, 1972), 69–70. 128 Critical Theory and the Challenge of Praxis Marcuse’s metacritique of science and technology tied them to their source in the capitalist exploitation of human beings and the earth. “The projection of nature as quantifiable matter … would be the horizon of a concrete societal practice which would be preserved in the development of the scientific project.”23 He related the Frankfurt School
the prospects for its emergence when he stresses the difficulties that accompany any attempt to avoid the blanket identification of the individual with the species, its complete subsumption under the “universal.” This problem is only compounded when Adorno states that there is no “idea of progress without the idea of humanity,” while endorsing Marx’s view that humanity does not yet exist. If we must appeal to humanity to make any progress that is worthy of the name, it is also the case that we do