Een ingetogen revolutie
: Over de praxis in de Kritische Theorie van de Frankfurter Schule

Translated title of the thesis: A modest revolution: On the praxis in the Critical Theory of the Frankfurter Schule
  • H. van der Vlist

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

In this thesis I discuss the role of praxis in the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. In the founding papers on Critical Theory of Horkheimer and Marcuse the idea is put forward that a theory of society should not only increase knowledge of society, but it should also be directed to emancipation of it. The latter is to be brought about by praxis i.e. (political) action in the sense of the Marxist tradition. In the course of the twentieth century the Critical Theory develops and the central question of this thesis is what the place of the praxis is in the social theory of the next generations of the Frankfurt school. A continuing problem, also already for the founders, was that the revolutionary agents of Marxism, the proletarian masses, were no longer present in the twentieth century. So Horkheimer, Marcuse and their colleagues had to address other societal movements or organizations to motivate for action. Next to that they made a psychological and cultural turn. Here, the publications on culture industry, anti-Semitism, and the One Dimensional Man will be discussed. In particular the latter was a pivotal text for the counter culture in the sixties in the USA and Western Europe. The next generation of the Frankfurt School is represented by J├╝rgen Habermas. He developed a theory of the social, featuring communicative action. This form of Critical Theory is more abstract and more complete than its predecessors, but at first sight there is no designation to societal action. The same holds for the theory of recognition, developed by Axel Honneth, representative of the third generation. These Critical Theories are meant as a theoretical framework for developing a strategy for emancipation within the contemporary capitalistic society; they could serve as the inspiration for a (left wing) political program. The German tradition of the Frankfurt School is continued in the twenty-first century by Rahel Jaeggi, who adjusts the foregoing theories with the concept of forms of life. Another branch of critical theorists (Fuchs, Rensmann) works on theories of digital communication and populism. These authors refer back to the studies of the first generation of the Frankfurt School. My conclusion is that the spirit of praxis, as present in the founding texts, can still be found in the next generations of the Frankfurt School, albeit less explicit. And it appears to be a living concept in recent studies.
Date of Award17 Aug 2021
Original languageDutch
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Cultural Studies
SupervisorHerman Simissen (Supervisor) & Eddo Evink (Examiner)

Keywords

  • filosofie
  • kritische theorie
  • Frankfurt School

Master's Degree

  • Master Kunst en Cultuurwetenschappen

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