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Philosophy as Critique of the Mind

The Doctrinal Evolution of Critical Theory

Stanisław Czerniak and Rafał Michalski

The authors trace the essential aspects of the evolution of critical theory from its classics Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno to its leading second- and third generation propagators Jürgen Habermas and Axel Honneth. They defend the thesis about the «meandering», dialectical character of this evolution. In their polemic with Habermas, both Honneth and Gernot Böhme (who is close to critical theory) refer to the classics, and specially their mimesis concept. The author of the first part of this book argues in favour of this interpretative approach. The author of the second part adds a confrontation between critical theory, Michel Foucault’s philosophy of power and Arnold Gehlen’s philosophical anthropology.
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Part II – Rafał Michalski


Theory of Power – Power of theory. Is a critical theory still possible?

1.  Introductory remarks

Searching for the ideological continuity of the Frankfurt School for over three generations, we have encountered a lot of problematic issues that appear in different, sometimes contradictory conceptualizations and are the evidence of the ambivalent evolution of this tradition. Concepts such as criticism, society, dialectics, emancipatory interest or social conflict persist in the views of successive generations of the Frankfurt School, being subjected to constant revisions and modifications. However, when we analyze the concept of power (domination), it turns out to be the most stable and subjected only to minimal changes matrix of Frankfurt’s critical diagnoses. The antinomy of power and freedom can be considered as the most fundamental medium of crystallization of the majority theoretical structures put forward by M. Horkheimer, Th. Adorno, H. Marcuse, J. Habermas, and A. Honneth, regardless of how much they differ in their specific findings.

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