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Of Critical Theory and its Theorists




Of Critical Theory and its Theorists

Stephen Bronner

ISBN: 978-0-631-18738-7 March 1994 Wiley-Blackwell 384 Pages


No project holds a more prominent place in the development of modern European thought than the critical theory. Usually associated with various members of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research of the 1920s and 1930s, critical theory has been enormously influential and quite controversial in its manifold claims.

Of Critical Theory and Its Theorists provides unique interpretations of critical theory's most important representatives: Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Jürgen Habermas, and others.

Inspired by the interdisciplinary character of the original enterprise, Stephen Bronner ranges across many fields, from philosophy and aesthetics to politics and anthropology, reconstructing the radical aims of critical theory, and evaluating its success, its failings and its legacy.

Of Critical Theory and its Theorists offers a panoramic view of an exciting tradition, and a bold new perspective, from one of America's most prominent analysts of continental politics and philosophy.

1. Introduction.

2. Karl Korsch: Western Marxism and the Origins of Critical Theory.

3. Philosophical Anticipations: A Commentary on the 'Reification' Essay of Georg Lukacs.

4. Utopian Projections: In Honor of Ernst Bloch.

5. Horkheimer's Road.

6. Ontology and its Discontents: Unorthodox Remarks on the Philosophy of Martin Heidegger.

7. Reclaiming the Fragments: On the Messianic Materialism of Walter Benjamin.

8. Political Aesthetics in Retrospect: Reflections on the Expressionism Debate and its Contemporary Relevance.

9. Dialectics at a Standstill: A Methodological Inquiry into the Philosophy of Theodor W. Adorno.

10. From in America.

11. Remembering Marcuse.

12. The Anthropological Break: Herbert Marcuse and the Radical Imagination.

13. Left Instrumentalism: A Critique of Analytic and Rational Choice Marxism.

14. Jürgen Habermas and the Language of Politics.

15. Points of Departure: Sketches for a Critical Theory with Public Aims.


"Has the foundation of critical theory been withdrawn with the collapse of communism? Stephen Eric Bronner argues the opposite: only now, liberated from marxian dogmatism, can a genuine critique of modern society begin. He develops his ideas in an immanent and emancipatory confrontation with critical theory and its proponents. A brilliant book! Don't miss it!" Ulrich Beck