Pathologies of Reason: On the Legacy of Critical Theory

Overview

Axel Honneth has been instrumental in advancing the work of the Frankfurt School of critical theorists, rebuilding their effort to combine radical social and political analysis with rigorous philosophical inquiry. These eleven essays published over the past five years reclaim the relevant themes of the Frankfurt School, which counted Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Jürgen Habermas, Franz Neumann, and Albrecht Wellmer as members. They also engage with Kant, Freud, Alexander Mitscherlich, and ...

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Pathologies of Reason: On the Legacy of Critical Theory

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Overview

Axel Honneth has been instrumental in advancing the work of the Frankfurt School of critical theorists, rebuilding their effort to combine radical social and political analysis with rigorous philosophical inquiry. These eleven essays published over the past five years reclaim the relevant themes of the Frankfurt School, which counted Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Jürgen Habermas, Franz Neumann, and Albrecht Wellmer as members. They also engage with Kant, Freud, Alexander Mitscherlich, and Michael Walzer, whose work on morality, history, democracy, and individuality intersects with the Frankfurt School's core concerns.

Collected here for the first time in English, Honneth's essays pursue the unifying themes and theses that support the methodologies and thematics of critical social theory, and they address the possibilities of continuing this tradition through radically changed theoretical and social conditions. According to Honneth, there is a unity that underlies critical theory's multiple approaches: the way in which reason is both distorted and furthered in contemporary capitalist society. And while much is dead in the social and psychological doctrines of critical social theory, its central inquiries remain vitally relevant.

Is social progress still possible after the horrors of the twentieth century? Does capitalism deform reason and, if so, in what respects? Can we justify the relationship between law and violence in secular terms, or is it inextricably bound to divine justice? How can we be free when we're subject to socialization in a highly complex and in many respects unfree society? For Honneth, suffering and moral struggle are departure points for a new "reconstructive" form of social criticism, one that is based solidly in the empirically grounded, interdisciplinary approach of the Frankfurt School.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Studies in Social Justice - Ronjon Paul Datta

I highly recommend it to all those interested in social justice. It offers a sophisticated, exceptionally well-crafted answer to a highly pertinent question: what social scientific criteria are there for making normative judgements about why and how Western civilization should change?

Choice

"This is a scholarly but eminently readable and accessible study of the multilayered resonance of Sri Lankan culture... Highly Recommended."

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

"John Holt's book is an impressive work of scholarship."

Studies in Social Justice
I highly recommend it to all those interested in social justice. It offers a sophisticated, exceptionally well-crafted answer to a highly pertinent question: what social scientific criteria are there for making normative judgements about why and how Western civilization should change?

— Ronjon Paul Datta

Choice

"This is a scholarly but eminently readable and accessible study of the multilayered resonance of Sri Lankan culture... Highly Recommended."

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231146265
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Series: New Directions in Critical Theory Series
  • Pages: 236
  • Sales rank: 1,322,344
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Axel Honneth is professor of philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt and director of the Institute for Social Research. He is the author of The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts , Philosophical Interventions in the Unfinished Project of Enlightenment , The Critique of Power: Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory , and Communicative Action: Essays on Jürgen Habermas's "The Theory of Communicative Action." James Ingram is an assistant professor of political science at McMaster University. He has translated works by Reinhart Koselleck, Christoph Menke, Hauke Brunkhorst, Jacques Derrida, and Étienne Balibar, among others.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface1. The Irreducibility of Progress: Kant's Account of the Relationship Between Morality and History2. A Social Pathology of Reason: On the Intellectual Legacy of Critical Theory3. Reconstructive Social Criticism with a Genealogical Proviso: On the Idea of "Critique" in the Frankfurt School4. A Physiognomy of the Capitalist Form of Life: A Sketch of Adorno's Social Theory5. Performing Justice: Adorno's Introduction to Negative Dialectics6. Saving the Sacred with a Philosophy of History: On Benjamin's "Critique of Violence"7. Appropriating Freedom: Freud's Conception of Individual Self-Relation8. "Anxiety and Politics": The Strengths and Weaknesses of Franz Neumann's Diagnosis of a Social Pathology9. Democracy and Inner Freedom: Alexander Mitscherlich's Contribution to Critical Social Theory10. Dissonances of Communicative Reason: Albrecht Wellmer and Critical TheoryAppendix: Idiosyncrasy as a Tool of Knowledge: Social Criticism in the Age of the Normalized IntellectualNotesBibliography

Columbia University Press

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