Critical theory

Critical theory is the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities. As a term, critical theory has two meanings with different origins and histories: the first originated in sociology and the second originated in literary criticism, whereby it is used and applied as an umbrella term that can describe a theory founded upon critique; thus, the theorist Max Horkheimer described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them."[1]

In sociology and political philosophy, the term "Critical Theory" describes the Western Marxist philosophy of the Frankfurt School, which was developed in Germany in the 1930s. This use of the term requires proper noun capitalization, whereas "a critical theory" or "a critical social theory" may have similar elements of thought, but not stress its intellectual lineage specifically to the Frankfurt School. Frankfurt School critical theorists drew on the critical methods of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Critical theory maintains that ideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation.[2] Critical theory was established as a school of thought primarily by the Frankfurt School theoreticians Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, and Erich Fromm. Modern critical theory has additionally been influenced by György Lukács and Antonio Gramsci, as well as the second generation Frankfurt School scholars, notably Jürgen Habermas. In Habermas's work, critical theory transcended its theoretical roots in German idealism and progressed closer to American pragmatism. Concern for social "base and superstructure" is one of the remaining Marxist philosophical concepts in much of contemporary critical theory.[3]

Postmodern critical theory politicizes social problems "by situating them in historical and cultural contexts, to implicate themselves in the process of collecting and analyzing data, and to relativize their findings."[4]

Overview

Critical theory (German: Kritische Theorie) was first defined by Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School of sociology in his 1937 essay Traditional and Critical Theory: Critical Theory is a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to understanding or explaining it. Horkheimer wanted to distinguish critical theory as a radical, emancipatory form of Marxian theory, critiquing both the model of science put forward by logical positivism and what he and his colleagues saw as the covert positivism and authoritarianism of orthodox Marxism and Communism. He described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them".[5] Critical theory involves a normative dimension, either through criticizing society from some general theory of values, norms, or "oughts", or through criticizing it in terms of its own espoused values.[6]

The core concepts of critical theory are as follows:

  1. That critical social theory should be directed at the totality of society in its historical specificity (i.e. how it came to be configured at a specific point in time), and
  2. That critical theory should improve understanding of society by integrating all the major social sciences, including geography, economics, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and psychology.

This version of "critical" theory derives from Kant's (18th-century) and Marx's (19th-century) use of the term "critique", as in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Marx's concept that his work Das Kapital (Capital) forms a "critique of political economy". For Kant's transcendental idealism, "critique" means examining and establishing the limits of the validity of a faculty, type, or body of knowledge, especially through accounting for the limitations imposed by the fundamental, irreducible concepts in use in that knowledge system.

Kant's notion of critique has been associated with the overturning of false, unprovable, or dogmatic philosophical, social, and political beliefs, because Kant's critique of reason involved the critique of dogmatic theological and metaphysical ideas and was intertwined with the enhancement of ethical autonomy and the Enlightenment critique of superstition and irrational authority. Ignored by many in "critical realist" circles, however, is that Kant's immediate impetus for writing his "Critique of Pure Reason" was to address problems raised by David Hume's skeptical empiricism which, in attacking metaphysics, employed reason and logic to argue against the knowability of the world and common notions of causation. Kant, by contrast, pushed the employment of a priori metaphysical claims as requisite, for if anything is to be said to be knowable, it would have to be established upon abstractions distinct from perceivable phenomena.

Marx explicitly developed the notion of critique into the critique of ideology and linked it with the practice of social revolution, as stated in the famous 11th of his Theses on Feuerbach: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it."[7]

One of the distinguishing characteristics of critical theory, as Adorno and Horkheimer elaborated in their Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), is a certain ambivalence concerning the ultimate source or foundation of social domination, an ambivalence which gave rise to the "pessimism" of the new critical theory over the possibility of human emancipation and freedom.[8] This ambivalence was rooted, of course, in the historical circumstances in which the work was originally produced, in particular, the rise of National Socialism, state capitalism, and mass culture as entirely new forms of social domination that could not be adequately explained within the terms of traditional Marxist sociology.[9]

For Adorno and Horkheimer, state intervention in economy had effectively abolished the tension between the "relations of production" and "material productive forces of society", a tension which, according to traditional critical theory, constituted the primary contradiction within capitalism. The market (as an "unconscious" mechanism for the distribution of goods) and private property had been replaced by centralized planning and socialized ownership of the means of production.[10]

Yet, contrary to Marx's famous prediction in the Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, this shift did not lead to "an era of social revolution", but rather to fascism and totalitarianism. As such, critical theory was left, in Jürgen Habermas' words, without "anything in reserve to which it might appeal; and when the forces of production enter into a baneful symbiosis with the relations of production that they were supposed to blow wide open, there is no longer any dynamism upon which critique could base its hope".[11] For Adorno and Horkheimer, this posed the problem of how to account for the apparent persistence of domination in the absence of the very contradiction that, according to traditional critical theory, was the source of domination itself.

In the 1960s, Jürgen Habermas, a proponent of critical social theory,[12] raised the epistemological discussion to a new level in his Knowledge and Human Interests, by identifying critical knowledge as based on principles that differentiated it either from the natural sciences or the humanities, through its orientation to self-reflection and emancipation.[13] Although unsatisfied with Adorno and Horkeimer's thought presented in Dialectic of Enlightenment, Habermas shares the view that, in the form of instrumental rationality, the era of modernity marks a move away from the liberation of enlightenment and toward a new form of enslavement.[14] In Habermas's work, critical theory transcended its theoretical roots in German idealism, and progressed closer to American pragmatism.

Habermas is now influencing the philosophy of law in many countries—for example the creation of the social philosophy of law in Brazil, and his theory also has the potential to make the discourse of law one important institution of the modern world as a heritage of the Enlightenment.[15]

His ideas regarding the relationship between modernity and rationalization are in this sense strongly influenced by Max Weber. Habermas dissolved further the elements of critical theory derived from Hegelian German Idealism, although his thought remains broadly Marxist in its epistemological approach. Perhaps his two most influential ideas are the concepts of the public sphere and communicative action; the latter arriving partly as a reaction to new post-structural or so-called "postmodern" challenges to the discourse of modernity. Habermas engaged in regular correspondence with Richard Rorty and a strong sense of philosophical pragmatism may be felt in his theory; thought which frequently traverses the boundaries between sociology and philosophy.

Critical theory and academic fields

Postmodern critical social theory

While modernist critical theory (as described above) concerns itself with "forms of authority and injustice that accompanied the evolution of industrial and corporate capitalism as a political-economic system," postmodern critical theory politicizes social problems "by situating them in historical and cultural contexts, to implicate themselves in the process of collecting and analyzing data, and to relativize their findings."[4] Meaning itself is seen as unstable due to the rapid transformation in social structures. As a result, the focus of research is centered on local manifestations, rather than broad generalizations.

Postmodern critical research is also characterized by the crisis of representation, which rejects the idea that a researcher's work is an "objective depiction of a stable other". Instead, many postmodern scholars have adopted "alternatives that encourage reflection about the 'politics and poetics' of their work. In these accounts, the embodied, collaborative, dialogic, and improvisational aspects of qualitative research are clarified".[16]

The term "critical theory" is often appropriated when an author works within sociological terms, yet attacks the social or human sciences (thus attempting to remain "outside" those frames of inquiry). Michel Foucault is one of these authors.[17]

Jean Baudrillard has also been described as a critical theorist to the extent that he was an unconventional and critical sociologist;[18] this appropriation is similarly casual, holding little or no relation to the Frankfurt School.[19] Jürgen Habermas of The Frankfurt School is one of the key critics of postmodernism.[20]

Critical theory is focused on language, symbolism, communication, and social construction.

Public relations

The critical theory allows public relations practitioners to recognize participatory planning by allowing previously unheard voices to be heard. Furthermore, this allows professionals the ability to create more specialized campaigns using the knowledge of other areas of study, moreover, it provides them with the ability to comprehend and change social institutions through advocacy.[21]

Communication studies

From the 1960s and 1970s onward, language, symbolism, text, and meaning came to be seen as the theoretical foundation for the humanities, through the influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ferdinand de Saussure, George Herbert Mead, Noam Chomsky, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and other thinkers in linguistic and analytic philosophy, structural linguistics, symbolic interactionism, hermeneutics, semiology, linguistically oriented psychoanalysis (Jacques Lacan, Alfred Lorenzer), and deconstruction.

When, in the 1970s and 1980s, Jürgen Habermas redefined critical social theory as a study of communication, i.e. communicative competence and communicative rationality on the one hand, distorted communication on the other, the two versions of critical theory began to overlap to a much greater degree than before.

Pedagogy

Critical theorists have widely credited Paulo Freire for the first applications of critical theory towards education/pedagogy. They consider his best-known work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a seminal text in what is now known as the philosophy and social movement of critical pedagogy. For a history of the emergence of critical theory in the field of education, see Isaac Gottesman (2016), The Critical Turn in Education: From Marxist Critique to Postructuralist Feminism to Critical Theories of Race (New York: Routledge).

Criticism

While critical theorists have been frequently defined as Marxist intellectuals,[22] their tendency to denounce some Marxist concepts and to combine Marxian analysis with other sociological and philosophical traditions has resulted in accusations of revisionism by classical, orthodox, and analytical Marxists, and by Marxist–Leninist philosophers. Martin Jay has stated that the first generation of critical theory is best understood as not promoting a specific philosophical agenda or a specific ideology, but as "a gadfly of other systems".[23]

Critical theory has been criticized for not offering any clear road map to political action following critique, often explicitly repudiating any solutions (such as with Herbert Marcuse's concept of "the Great Refusal", which promoted abstaining from engaging in active political change).[24]

See also

Lists

Journals

Footnotes

  1. ^ (Horkheimer 1982, 244)
  2. ^ Geuss, R. The Idea of a Critical Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Outhwaite, William. 1988. Habermas: Key Contemporary Thinkers 2nd Edition (2009), pp. 5-8 (ISBN 978-0-7456-4328-1)
  4. ^ a b Lindlof, Thomas R.; Taylor, Bryan C. (2002). Qualitative Communication Research Methods. SAGE. p. 49. ISBN 9780761924944.
  5. ^ Horkheimer 1982, p. 244.
  6. ^ Bohman, James (1 January 2016). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2016 ed.). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
  7. ^ "Theses on Feuerbach". §XI. Marxists Internet Archive. Retrieved 11 April 2015.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Adorno, T. W., with Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002. 242.
  9. ^ "Critical Theory was initially developed in Horkheimer's circle to think through political disappointments at the absence of revolution in the West, the development of Stalinism in Soviet Russia, and the victory of fascism in Germany. It was supposed to explain mistaken Marxist prognoses, but without breaking Marxist intentions." "The Entwinement of Myth and Enlightenment: Horkheimer and Adorno." in Habermas, Jürgen. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures. trans. Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1987. 116. Also, see Helmut Dubiel, Theory and Politics: Studies in the Development of Critical Theory, trans. Benjamin Gregg (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 1985).
  10. ^ "[G]one are the objective laws of the market which ruled in the actions of the entrepreneurs and tended toward catastrophe. Instead the conscious decision of the managing directors executes as results (which are more obligatory than the blindest price-mechanisms) the old law of value and hence the destiny of capitalism." Dialectic of Enlightenment. p. 38.
  11. ^ "The Entwinement of Myth and Enlightenment," p. 118.
  12. ^ George N. Katsiaficas, Robert George Kirkpatrick, Mary Lou Emery, Introduction to Critical Sociology, Irvington Publishers, 1987, p. 26.
  13. ^ On critical social theory as a form of self-reflection, see Laurie, Timothy; Stark, Hannah; Walker, Briohny (2019), "Critical Approaches to Continental Philosophy: Intellectual Community, Disciplinary Identity, and the Politics of Inclusion", Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy, 30: 1–17
  14. ^ Outhwaite, William. 1988. Habermas: Key Contemporary Thinkers 2nd Edition (2009). p6. ISBN 978-0-7456-4328-1
  15. ^ Bittar, Eduardo C. B., Democracia, Justiça e Emancipação Social, São Paulo, Quartier Latin, 2013.
  16. ^ Lindlof & Taylor, 2002, p. 53
  17. ^ Rivera Vicencio, E. (2012). "Foucault: His influence over accounting and management research. Building of a map of Foucault's approach". Int. J. Critical Accounting. 4 (5/6): 728–756.
  18. ^ "Introduction to Jean Baudrillard, Module on Postmodernity". www.cla.purdue.edu. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  19. ^ Kellner, Douglas (2015). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2015 ed.). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
  20. ^ Aylesworth, Gary (2015). "Postmodernism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  21. ^ Stephen Tindi (13 October 2013). "Theorical basis: Excellence, Critical and Rhetorical theories in Publ…".
  22. ^ See, e.g., Leszek Kołakowski's Main Currents of Marxism (1979), vol. 3 chapter X; W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0393329437
  23. ^ Jay, Martin (1996) The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923–1950. University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-20423-2, p. 41
  24. ^ "The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory", Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

References

External links

Archival collections

Archetypal literary criticism

Archetypal literary criticism is a type of critical theory that interprets a text by focusing on recurring myths and archetypes (from the Greek archē, "beginning", and typos, "imprint") in the narrative, symbols, images, and character types in literary work. As a form of literary criticism, it dates back to 1934 when Maud Bodkin published Archetypal Patterns in Poetry.

Archetypal literary criticism's origins are rooted in two other academic disciplines, social anthropology and psychoanalysis; each contributed to literary criticism in separate ways, with the latter being a sub-branch of critical theory. Archetypal criticism was at its most popular in the 1940s and 1950s, largely due to the work of Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye. Though archetypal literary criticism is no longer widely practiced, nor have there been any major developments in the field, it still has a place in the tradition of literary studies.

Continental philosophy

Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.It is difficult to identify non-trivial claims that would be common to all the preceding philosophical movements. The term continental philosophy, like analytic philosophy, lacks clear definition and may mark merely a family resemblance across disparate philosophical views. Simon Glendinning has suggested that the term was originally more pejorative than descriptive, functioning as a label for types of western philosophy rejected or disliked by analytic philosophers. Nonetheless, Michael E. Rosen has ventured to identify common themes that typically characterize continental philosophy.

First, continental philosophers generally reject the view that the natural sciences are the only or most accurate way of understanding natural phenomena. This contrasts with many analytic philosophers who consider their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences. Continental philosophers often argue that science depends upon a "pre-theoretical substrate of experience" (a version of Kantian conditions of possible experience or the phenomenological "lifeworld") and that scientific methods are inadequate to fully understand such conditions of intelligibility.

Second, continental philosophy usually considers these conditions of possible experience as variable: determined at least partly by factors such as context, space and time, language, culture, or history. Thus continental philosophy tends toward historicism (or historicity). Where analytic philosophy tends to treat philosophy in terms of discrete problems, capable of being analyzed apart from their historical origins (much as scientists consider the history of science inessential to scientific inquiry), continental philosophy typically suggests that "philosophical argument cannot be divorced from the textual and contextual conditions of its historical emergence".

Third, continental philosophy typically holds that human agency can change these conditions of possible experience: "if human experience is a contingent creation, then it can be recreated in other ways". Thus continental philosophers tend to take a strong interest in the unity of theory and practice, and often see their philosophical inquiries as closely related to personal, moral, or political transformation. This tendency is very clear in the Marxist tradition ("philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it"), but is also central in existentialism and post-structuralism.

A final characteristic trait of continental philosophy is an emphasis on metaphilosophy. In the wake of the development and success of the natural sciences, continental philosophers have often sought to redefine the method and nature of philosophy. In some cases (such as German idealism or phenomenology), this manifests as a renovation of the traditional view that philosophy is the first, foundational, a priori science. In other cases (such as hermeneutics, critical theory, or structuralism), it is held that philosophy investigates a domain that is irreducibly cultural or practical. And some continental philosophers (such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, the later Heidegger, or Derrida) doubt whether any conception of philosophy can coherently achieve its stated goals.Ultimately, the foregoing themes derive from a broadly Kantian thesis that knowledge, experience, and reality are bound and shaped by conditions best understood through philosophical reflection rather than exclusively empirical inquiry.

Critical ethnography

Critical ethnography applies a critical theory based approach to ethnography. It focuses on the implicit values expressed within ethnographic studies and, therefore, on the unacknowledged biases that may result from such implicit values. It has been called critical theory in practice. of critical theory, this approach seeks to determine symbolic mechanisms, to extract ideology from action, and to understand the cognition and behaviour of research subjects within historical, cultural, and social frameworks.

Critical ethnography incorporates reflexive inquiry into its methodology. Researchers employing this approach position themselves as being intrinsically linked to those being studied and thus inseparable from their context. In addition to speaking on behalf of subjects, critical ethnographers will also attempt to recognize and articulate their own perspective as a means of acknowledging the biases that their own limitations, histories, and institutional standpoints bear on their work. Further, critical ethnography is inherently political as well as pedagogical in its approach. There is no attempt to be purely detached and scientifically objective in reporting and analysis. In contrast to conventional ethnography which describes what is, critical ethnography also asks what could be in order to disrupt tacit power relationships and perceived social inequalities.

Critical international relations theory

Critical international relations theory is a diverse set of schools of thought in international relations (IR) that have criticized the theoretical, meta-theoretical and/or political status quo, both in IR theory and in international politics more broadly – from positivist as well as postpositivist positions. Positivist critiques include Marxist and neo-Marxist approaches and certain ("conventional") strands of social constructivism. Postpositivist critiques include poststructuralist, postcolonial, "critical" constructivist, critical theory (in the strict sense used by the Frankfurt School), neo-Gramscian, most feminist, and some English School approaches, as well as non-Weberian historical sociology, "international political sociology", "critical geopolitics", and the so-called "new materialism" (partly inspired by actor–network theory). All of these latter approaches differ from both realism and liberalism in their epistemological and ontological premises.

Such theories are now widely recognized and taught and researched in many universities, but are less common in the United States. They are taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in many major universities outside the US, where a major concern is that "a myopic discipline of IR might contribute to the continued development of a civil society in the U.S. that thinks, reflects and analyzes complex international events through a very narrow set of theoretical lenses".

Critical legal studies

Critical legal studies (CLS) is a school of critical theory that first emerged as a movement in the United States during the 1970s. Critical Legal Studies adherents claim that laws are used to maintain the status quo of society's power structures; it is also held that the law is a codified form of society's biases against marginalized groups. Despite wide variation in the opinions of critical legal scholars around the world there is general consensus regarding the key goals of Critical Legal Studies:

to demonstrate the ambiguity and possible preferential outcomes of supposedly impartial and rigid legal doctrines.

to publicize historical, social, economic and psychological results of legal decisions

to demystify legal analysis and legal culture in order to impose transparency on legal processes so that they earn the general support of socially responsible citizens

Critical psychology

Critical psychology is a perspective on psychology that draws extensively on critical theory. Critical psychology challenges mainstream psychology and attempts to apply psychological understandings in more progressive ways, often looking towards social change as a means of preventing and treating psychopathology.

One of critical psychology's main criticisms of conventional psychology is that it fails to consider or deliberately ignores the way power differences between social classes and groups can affect the mental and physical well-being of individuals or groups of people. It does this, in part, because it tends to explain behavior at the level of the individual.

Dialectic of Enlightenment

Dialectic of Enlightenment (German: Dialektik der Aufklärung) is a work of philosophy and social criticism written by Frankfurt School philosophers Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno and first published in 1944. A revised version appeared in 1947.

One of the core texts of critical theory, Dialectic of Enlightenment explores the socio-psychological status quo that had been responsible for what the Frankfurt School considered the failure of the Age of Enlightenment. Together with The Authoritarian Personality (1950; also co-authored by Adorno) and Frankfurt School member Herbert Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man (1964), it has had a major effect on 20th-century philosophy, sociology, culture, and politics, inspiring especially the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s.

Film theory

Film theory is a set of scholarly approaches within the academic discipline of film or cinema studies that questions the essentialism of cinema and provides conceptual frameworks for understanding film's relationship to reality, the other arts, individual viewers, and society at large. Film theory is not to be confused with general film criticism, or film history, though these three disciplines interrelate.

Although film theory originated from linguistics and literary theory, it also overlaps with the philosophy of film.

Frankfurt School

The Frankfurt School (Frankfurter Schule) is a school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt. Founded in the Weimar Republic (1918–33), during the European interwar period (1918–39), the Frankfurt School comprised intellectuals, academics, and political dissidents who were ill-fitted to the contemporary socio-economic systems (capitalist, fascist, communist) of the 1930s. The Frankfurt theorists proposed that social theory was inadequate for explaining the turbulent political factionalism and reactionary politics occurring in ostensibly liberal capitalist societies in the 20th century. Critical of capitalism and of Marxism–Leninism as philosophically inflexible systems of social organisation, the School's critical theory research indicated alternative paths to realising the social development of a society and a nation.The Frankfurt School perspective of critical investigation (open-ended and self-critical) is based upon Freudian, Marxist and Hegelian premises of idealist philosophy. To fill the omissions of 19th-century classical Marxism, which could not address 20th-century social problems, they applied the methods of antipositivist sociology, of psychoanalysis, and of existentialism. The School’s sociologic works derived from syntheses of the thematically pertinent works of Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Karl Marx, of Sigmund Freud and Max Weber, and of Georg Simmel and Georg Lukács.Like Karl Marx, the Frankfurt School concerned themselves with the conditions (political, economic, societal) that allow for social change realised by way of rational social institutions. The emphasis upon the critical component of social theory derived from surpassing the ideological limitations of positivism, materialism, and determinism, by returning to the critical philosophy of Kant, and his successors in German idealism — principally the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel, which emphasised dialectic and contradiction as intellectual properties inherent to the human grasp of material reality.

Since the 1960s, the critical-theory work of the Institute for Social Research has been guided by Jürgen Habermas, in the fields of communicative rationality, linguistic intersubjectivity, and "the philosophical discourse of modernity"; nonetheless, the critical theorists Raymond Geuss and Nikolas Kompridis opposed the propositions of Habermas, claiming he has undermined the original social-change purposes of critical-theory-problems, such as: What should reason mean?; the analysis and expansion of the conditions necessary to realise social emancipation; and critiques of contemporary capitalism.

Max Horkheimer

Max Horkheimer (; German: [ˈhɔɐ̯kˌhaɪmɐ]; February 14, 1895 – July 7, 1973) was a German philosopher and sociologist who was famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the 'Frankfurt School' of social research. Horkheimer addressed authoritarianism, militarism, economic disruption, environmental crisis, and the poverty of mass culture using the philosophy of history as a framework. This became the foundation of critical theory. His most important works include Eclipse of Reason (1947), Between Philosophy and Social Science (1930–1938) and, in collaboration with Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947). Through the Frankfurt School, Horkheimer planned, supported and made other significant works possible.

Metanarrative

A metanarrative (also meta-narrative and grand narrative; French: métarécit) in critical theory and particularly in postmodernism is a narrative about narratives of historical meaning, experience, or knowledge, which offers a society legitimation through the anticipated completion of a (as yet unrealized) master idea.

Neo-Gramscianism

Neo-Gramscianism applies a critical theory approach to the study of international relations (IR) and the global political economy (GPE) that explores the interface of ideas, institutions and material capabilities as they shape the specific contours of the state formation. The theory is heavily influenced by the writings of Antonio Gramsci.Neo-Gramscianism analyzes how the particular constellation of social forces, the state and the dominant ideational configuration define and sustain world orders. In this sense, the neo-Gramscian approach breaks the decades-old stalemate between the realist schools of thought and the liberal theories by historicizing the very theoretical foundations of the two streams as part of a particular world order and finding the interlocking relationship between agency and structure. Furthermore, Karl Polanyi, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Niccolò Machiavelli, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault are cited as major sources within the critical theory of IR.

Neo-Marxism

Neo-Marxism encompasses 20th-century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, typically by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions such as critical theory, psychoanalysis, or existentialism (in the case of Jean-Paul Sartre).

An example of the syncretism in neo-Marxist theory is Erik Olin Wright's theory of contradictory class locations which incorporates Weberian sociology, critical criminology and anarchism. As with many uses of the prefix neo-, some theorists and groups designated as neo-Marxist have attempted to supplement the perceived deficiencies of orthodox Marxism or dialectical materialism. Many prominent neo-Marxists, such as Herbert Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School, have historically been sociologists and psychologists.

Neo-Marxism comes under the broader framework of the New Left. In a sociological sense, neo-Marxism adds Max Weber's broader understanding of social inequality such as status and power to Marxist philosophy. Examples of neo-Marxism include critical theory, analytical Marxism and French structural Marxism.

Outline of critical theory

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to critical theory:

Critical theory – the examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism. This has led to the very literal use of 'critical theory' as an umbrella term to describe any theory founded upon critique.

Phallogocentrism

In critical theory and deconstruction, phallogocentrism is a neologism coined by Jacques Derrida to refer to the privileging of the masculine (phallus) in the construction of meaning. The word is a portmanteau of the older terms phallocentrism (focusing on the masculine point of view) and logocentrism (focusing on language in assigning meaning to the world).

Derrida and others identified phonocentrism, or the prioritizing of speech over writing, as an integral part of phallogocentrism. Derrida explored this idea in his essay "Plato's Pharmacy".

Post-Marxism

Post-Marxism is a trend in political philosophy and social theory which deconstructs Karl Marx's writings and Marxism proper, bypassing orthodox Marxism. The term post-Marxism first appeared in Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's theoretical work Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. It can be said that post-Marxism as a political theory was developed at the University of Essex by Laclau and Mouffe. Philosophically, post-Marxism counters derivationism and essentialism (for example, it does not see economy as a foundation of politics and the state as an instrument that functions unambiguously and autonomously on behalf of the interests of a given class). Recent overviews of post-Marxism are provided by Ernesto Screpanti, Göran Therborn and Gregory Meyerson.

Posthumanism

Posthumanism or post-humanism (meaning "after humanism" or "beyond humanism") is a term with at least seven definitions according to philosopher Francesca Ferrando:

Antihumanism: any theory that is critical of traditional humanism and traditional ideas about humanity and the human condition.

Cultural posthumanism: a branch of cultural theory critical of the foundational assumptions of humanism and its legacy that examines and questions the historical notions of "human" and "human nature", often challenging typical notions of human subjectivity and embodiment and strives to move beyond archaic concepts of "human nature" to develop ones which constantly adapt to contemporary technoscientific knowledge.

Philosophical posthumanism: a philosophical direction which draws on cultural posthumanism, the philosophical strand examines the ethical implications of expanding the circle of moral concern and extending subjectivities beyond the human species.

Posthuman condition: the deconstruction of the human condition by critical theorists.

Transhumanism: an ideology and movement which seeks to develop and make available technologies that eliminate aging and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, in order to achieve a "posthuman future".

AI takeover: A more pessimistic alternative to transhumanism in which humans will not be enhanced, but rather eventually replaced by artificial intelligences. Some philosophers, including Nick Land, promote the view that humans should embrace and accept their eventual demise. This is related to the view of "cosmism", which supports the building of strong artificial intelligence even if it may entail the end of humanity, as in their view it "would be a cosmic tragedy if humanity freezes evolution at the puny human level".

Voluntary Human Extinction, which seeks a "posthuman future" that in this case is a future without humans.

Spectacle (critical theory)

The spectacle is a central notion in the Situationist theory, developed by Guy Debord in his 1967 book, The Society of the Spectacle. In its limited sense, spectacle means the mass media, which are "its most glaring superficial manifestation." Debord said that the society of the spectacle came to existence in the late 1920s.The critique of the spectacle is a development and application of Karl Marx's concept of fetishism of commodities, reification and alienation, and the way it was reprised by György Lukács in 1923. In the society of the spectacle, the commodities rule the workers and the consumers, instead of being ruled by them, are passive subjects that contemplate the reified spectacle.

The Sexual Politics of Meat

The Sexual Politics of Meat is a 1990 book written by Carol J. Adams, in which she develops her Vegetarian-Feminist, Pacifist, intersectional critical theory. The book was first written as an essay for a college course taught by Mary Daly and includes material such as interviews from vegetarian feminists in the Boston-Cambridge area. The Sexual Politics of Meat has been translated into nine languages and re-published for its 25th anniversary edition as a part of the Bloomsbury Revelations series.

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