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.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 culture industry as entirely new forms of social domination that could not be adequately explained within the terms of traditional Marxist sociology.Tags: Helping The Environment EssayWhat Is Problem Solving SkillIndustrial Revolution AssignmentStaff Paper For Writing MusicPart Time Social Work Degree CoursesDefinition Of Problem Solving In MathematicsEnvironmental Problem And Solutions EssayPersonal Writing EssaysMuch Ado About Nothing Essay Act 4 Scene 1Argumentative Essay Barack Obama
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." 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.
In the 1960s, Jürgen Habermas, a proponent of critical social theory, 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.
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.
He described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them".
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.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." 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.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.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.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.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.