Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory

Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory

Language: English

Pages: 455

ISBN: 023106165X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Displaying an impressive command of complex materials, Seyla Benhabib reconstructs the history of theories from a systematic point of view and examines the origins and transformations of the concept of critique from the works of Hegel to Habermas. Through investigating the model of the philosophy of the subject, she pursues the question of how Hegel's critiques might be useful for reforumulating the foundations of critical social theory.



















literature, and languages. Columbia University Press New York Guildford, Surrey © 1986 Columbia University Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America c 987654 For Benhabib CONTENTS Preface and Acknowledgments ix Abbreviations Used in Text and Notes xv Introduction PART I The Critical Theory of Society: Between Practical Philosophy and Social Science T H E ORIGINS OF C R I T I Q U E Chapter One The Origins of Immanent Critique 1 Hegelian Origins 2 Hegel's

i n itself what "ought" to be as a possibility. Marx advocates dissolving the existent (das Bestehende) into the conflict between the actual and the possible, and to show that under present conditions reason exists, but not in "a rational form." This very formulation reveals the extent to which Marx adopts the Hegelian thesis of the unity of the actual and the To view the existent as a realm of possibility containing w i t h i n itself what ought to be is to view the existent as actuality

Hegel's theory of objective Spirit. "Objective Spirit" refers to materially embedded and objectified human practices existing in space and time. Such practices and institutions are "objective" not only because they exist for a l l , but also because their relationship to each other and their mode of functioning display a necessity intelligible to the thinker-observer. The concepts of "objective Spirit" and "ethical life" are in the first place descriptive. Hegel often refers to ethical life as

specify what such reappropriation would or could mean in concrete social and political terms. The collective singular subject does not behave as a collectivity that has decided to act together, but as a singularity that reappropriates what is legitimately its own. In this respect, Marxian social theory faces a dilemma: either the proletariat is one social actor among others whose struggles we choose to support on diverse ethical and political grounds, or the proletariat is the privileged social

insistence upon the "determinate negation" of the present futile if not immoral. Critical theory was confronted w i t h the task of thinking the "radically new" and the "radically other." In his 1971 Foreword to M a r t i n The Dialectical Imagination, Horkheimer wrote: "The appeal to an entirely other [ein ganz than this w o r l d had p r i m a r i l y social-philosophical impetus. The hope that earthly terror does not possess the last word is, to be sure, a non-scientific In this extremely

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