The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory (New Directions in Critical Theory)
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While post- and decolonial theorists have thoroughly debunked the idea of historical progress as a Eurocentric, imperialist, and neocolonialist fallacy, many of the most prominent contemporary thinkers associated with the Frankfurt School―Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, and Rainer Forst―have defended ideas of progress, development, and modernity and have even made such ideas central to their normative claims. Can the Frankfurt School's goal of radical social change survive this critique? And what would a decolonized critical theory look like?
Amy Allen fractures critical theory from within by dispensing with its progressive reading of history while retaining its notion of progress as a political imperative, so eloquently defended by Adorno. Critical theory, according to Allen, is the best resource we have for achieving emancipatory social goals. In reimagining a decolonized critical theory after the end of progress, she rescues it from oblivion and gives it a future.
choice but to judge traditional forms of life to be Critical Theory and the Idea of Progress 29 inadequate and inferior to ours insofar as they do not regard themselves as simply one point of view among others. As Tully argues and as I will discus further with respect to Habermas in chapter 2, the problem with this kind of “neo-Kantian imperialism” is that it “cannot approach another people’s way of life as an alternative horizon, thereby throwing their own into question and experiencing
motivated yes/no positions” (TCA2, 145). Counter-Enlightenment critics have, on Habermas’s view, correctly discerned distinctively pathological tendencies in modernity, but they have mistakenly attributed those tendencies to the rationalization of lifeworld itself. Habermas, by contrast, oﬀers a broader conception of society that encompasses not only lifeworld but also systems perspectives and that enables him to locate the pathologies of modernity in the relationship between lifeworld and system
progress in a robust sense, then it seems to me that Honneth is implicitly committed to claiming that the expansion of marriage rights within European and American contexts not only constitutes progress for us, by our lights, but also serves as evidence that “our” late modern, European-American form of ethical life is superior to those forms of life that do not tolerate or accept gay marriage. I want to emphasize that this is a claim about what Honneth is implicitly committed to as a result of
theorizing has not only not yet been met, it has not even been fully appreciated by its practitioners. This book constitutes an attempt both to articulate and to meet that challenge. Like Said, I believe that there is a reason for the Frankfurt School’s failure to respond adequately to the predicaments of our post- and neocolonial world and that this reason is connected to philosophical Critical Theory and the Idea of Progress 3 commitments that run deep in the work of its contemporary
return to Kant is motivated, at least in part, by what he sees as the dangers of a Hegelian strategy for grounding normativity. These dangers are clearly articulated in his discussion of Rawls in his ﬁrst book, Contexts of Justice. Against those who read Rawls as a contextualist about normativity, Forst reads him as a constructivist. The motivation for this reading is captured in the following question: “Can. . . . a culturally and historically anchored argument raise a claim to universality only