Marx and the two enlightenments essay

Each element of each triad is itself a triad.

Marx and the two enlightenments essay

Please do not quote without permission. In this paper, I argue that Adorno and Horkheimer conflate Enlightenment rationality with reification and conflate its conception of reason with instrumental reason.

A consequence of this critique is that the late Critical Theory as represented by Adorno and Horkheimer becomes unable to construct a normative moment through which critique could effectively operate.

By disabling the Enlightenment and its conception of freedom, their critique subsequently leads to a disabling of practical, political alternatives to the problems of contemporary political and economic life.

Only by going back to its Hegelian roots can Critical Theory be reinvigorated for contemporary social criticism. As an idea, freedom was articulated most lucidly at the dawn of the age of modern reason, during the Enlightenment.

Today, more than ever before, the conceptions of freedom and reason constructed there is under attack from both left and right.

Project MUSE - Immanuel Kant and the Anthropological Enlightenment

Marx and the two enlightenments essay this sense, there is little question that the deconstruction of reason put forth by the philosophy of the late Frankfurt School is a significant contributor to this trend.

The project of critique was employed with the self-conscious use of reason, there was no contradiction here. Indeed, the employment of reason was not the problem, it was the evolution of the ideology of reason into a force that had become alienated from man through reification.

But this position was unstable in the most popular and philosophically complex circles of the Frankfurt School. In some ways this trend has been reversed. In contrast, their projects are seen as being defined by their opposition to this 2 destructive critique.

The critique has, however, put critical theory in the lineage of modern post- structuralist and postmodern thought, and rightly so.

Marx and the two enlightenments essay

The radical critique of modernity and culture Dialectic of Enlightenment2 put forth has produced a skepticism of reason in general but it has also—and this is crucial—damaged the reception of enlightenment political ideas and ideals on the critical left.

From its inception, Critical Theory was a political enterprise: There was no mistaking the real importance of cultural critique in this regard: This was an insight derived from Marx, but also one that was more explicitly made by Georg Lukacs in his History and Class Consciousness.

It would be immodest to claim that the radical critique of enlightenment rationality put forth in Dialectic of Enlightenment and other texts can be easily undone. But at the same time, the sooner we see that the story of cultural modernity told in Dialectic of Enlightenment is misled by the conception of reason Adorno and Horkheimer were working with, the easier it will be to salvage the concept of enlightenment reason and the idea of freedom from the wreckage of intellectual history.

I do not mean to say that these ideas are in any real way dead at present, they clearly are not. What is true, however, is that any radical or critical use of reason has broken down, that the bourgeois values of the 19th century have themselves been reified by the 3 progression of liberal capitalism into the narrow conceptions of economic liberty and institutional democracy.

Freedom from these concepts does not, in my view, necessitate a critique of concepts. The task of a modern critical theory should be to serve as a metacritique of the rationality under which these prevailing political and cultural attitudes and institutions work.

What we see, however, is that the radical critique of rationality has led to skepticism—the movement from the indictment of the Enlightenment tout court in Adorno and Horkheimer to its complete dismissal in many spheres of left critical theory.

Of course, the purpose of the radical critique of reason was to show that the Enlightenment harbored its own darker half and that the operation of instrumental reason was the regulating pulse of modernity, promising freedom but granting imprisonment.

Of course, this was meant as an indictment of cultural modernity more than anything else. Technology in and of itself was not the target of the critique, it was the extent to which instrumental reason became all-encompassing in terms of the cultural content of the modern world that concerned them.

Reification had to be tracked down to its smallest roots. Broader than capitalism itself, enlightenment reason— conceived as the fully developed Cartesian ratio—is the prime mover of the horrors of modernity. It is at once the promissory note of freedom and the jailer of humanity. This is no antinomy.

But the limits of the critique of enlightenment reason have, I would assert, grave consequences for critical theory. It makes no distinction, implicit or otherwise, between positivist science and Wissenschaft, between the ratio and other, liberating forms of reason.

In political terms, the escape from reason, or the destruction of reason, is, and has always been, a move toward the right of the political spectrum; toward irrationality, subjectivism, intuitionism, the search for ontologies, and emotivism. The great critics of the Enlightenment—ranging from Herder, Burke, Hamann, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger among others—were in no way supporters of democracy.

In this sense, it is not clear what the larger project of Adorno and Horkheimer really was. But this is not the point of contention here. To be sure, irrespective of what was inevitably written and published, Adorno and Horkheimer had intended another project which would have saved the Enlightenment from their own critique.

In other words, it is not in the continuing critique of the Enlightenment and of reason more broadly that modern Critical theory needs to be concerned with, but the realization that any critique is always situated within a tradition and that this tradition is firmly rooted in the Enlightenment and the discourse of enlightenment ideas and ideals that has continued for more than two centuries.

More specifically, the link between reason and freedom is such that the intellectual path chosen by Dialectic of Enlightenment locks critical theory away from the political domain of freedom unless it goes back to the ideas of enlightenment reason.Jun 17,  · In other words, contemporary men and women have lost sight of the philosophical for the commercial, and have replaced the sociological enlightenments of socialism and democracy.

That contemporary men and women consume without thought as to their how their abundance or consumption of abundance came to them. Immanuel Kant and the Anthropological Enlightenment Karl Ameriks, ed. The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism Hunter argues for the existence of two “rival” Enlightenments: one based on metaphysical philosophy to which Kant is the heir, Gregor’s careful translation and Christine Korsgaard’s clear introductory essay present.

How convincing is Adorno and Horkheimer's critique of the Enlightenment Project? was critical to Marx’s thinking and through that to the thinking of both Horkhiemer and Adorno and to their later critique of the Enlightenment project.

Marx and Human Alienation. Essay . 1. The True: Science, Epistemology and Metaphysics in the Enlightenment. In this era dedicated to human progress, the advancement of the natural sciences is regarded as the main exemplification of, and fuel for, such progress.

Marx and the Two Enlightenments - Marx and the Two Enlightenments ABSTRACT: The claim to rationality is disputed by two rival enlightenments, which collided in the dispute between Plato, Socrates and the Sophists, and which Marx united critically.

Critical Theory, The Critique of Enlightenment Reason and the Problem of Freedom Michael J. Thompson Department of Political Science William Paterson University Pompton Road Wayne, NJ [email protected] This paper is a draft.

Marx and the two enlightenments essay
Enlightenment Theory of Modernity: Definition, Characteristics and Criticism of Enlightenment