Critical theory

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Max Horkheimer (front left), Theodor Adorno (front right) and Jürgen Habermas (in the background right), Siegfried Landshut (in the background left) in Heidelberg in 1964

As critical theory one of is Hegel , Marx and Freud inspired in the first half of the 20th century social theory refers to their representatives (notably Max Horkheimer , Theodor W. Adorno and Herbert Marcuse ) also referred to as the Frankfurt School are summarized. Its subject is the ideology-critical analysis of bourgeois-capitalist society, that is: the exposure of their domination and oppression and the questioning of their ideologies , with the aim of a reasonable society of responsible human beings. Its aim is to bring the totality of social relations and the necessity of their change to the concept theoretically. If theory is understood in this understanding as a form of practice , that means: With the theoretical enlightenment, the social conditions are unveiled, and with the new look at them the changing practice begins in the consciousness of the enlightened people. It started with the project of a sociological, interdisciplinary diagnosis of the times with an emancipatory claim, then under the influence of contemporary events it changed into a negative philosophy of history with no hope of a foreseeable transformation of the "totalitarian" (Horkheimer / Adorno) and "one-dimensional" (Marcuse) social conditions that have become.

This “older” or “classical” critical theory , which is focused here, is to be distinguished from the more recent critical theory , which goes back to Jürgen Habermas and which admittedly adheres to the socio-critical motives, but rejects the radical skepticism of reason and the pessimistic construction of history and uses the term the “ communicative reason ” moves emancipatory motives into the center of the theory.

To the subject

The term “critical theory” was coined by Max Horkheimer in exile “for the institute's scientific project”, a “research program of an interdisciplinary materialism developed by him”. It finds its justification in Horkheimer's essay Traditional and Critical Theory from 1937, in which he deals with the ideal and the operation of post-Copernican science. Before that, the institute's Marxist, undogmatic social theory was known as materialism . In an interview, Herbert Marcuse stated that the term was used by the members of the institute for the purpose of "critically examining traditional Marxist theory".

The critical theory is defined in Horkheimer's essay as a practical philosophy that depends on social change with the aim of increasing self-determination of people. This goal permanently separates critical theory from “bourgeois science”, to which both the positivist disciplines and idealistic theoretical philosophy belong.

Horkheimer criticizes the “traditional theory” of the specialist sciences for accepting social facts as givens and forgetting that these facts are not natural facts, but socially made things that hide the injustice of social rule. This injustice can only be deciphered if the social constitution of the social facts is opened up critically, that is, from the point of view of better practice. Because the positivist science refuses to reflect on this, it serves to consolidate the existing social injustice. It closes itself to reflection on the intertwining of science and rule from the ground up and can therefore not meet its theoretical claim to freedom from value judgments .

Horkheimer criticizes the “traditional theory” as an idealistic philosophy or ontology for being only the metaphysical complement of the mindless state in the positivistic, affirmative specialist sciences. It legitimizes the mindless state and at the same time criticizes it. The criticism, however, does not take place in such a way that it questions the scientific terms such as economics, sociology, psychology, educational science themselves and examines their real constitution, but in such a way that these terms are accepted, but at the same time their supplementation by metaphysics is claimed, which is supposed to achieve what the positive sciences lack: clarification of the questions of meaning , derivation of morally correct action from the highest premises, explication of ways to salvation from the misery of the world or ways to the "true self" in the uncomprehended social whole. In idealistic metaphysics, this is always done by positing an ideal world behind or above the real world of the positivistically accepted facts and deriving it from the first, highest indubitable principles of this "real, ideal world". The positivist rationality of traditional theory accepted as such in the specialist sciences is thus supplemented by metaphysics as the original philosophy with what it allegedly lacks, without questioning itself and the social reality to which it relates.

The critical theory , on the other hand, is based on a concept of reason that does not merge into the rationality of means and ends. According to its founders, it aims to understand the "social totality" found, the unconsciousness and lack of conception of which in the social sciences means that positivist scientists are objective neither in the theoretical approach nor in their implementation of the processing or understanding of the data obtained can, but their concepts and categories are mere duplications and systematizing repetitions of the uncomprehended real abstractions that are effective in social reality itself. Critical theory therefore focuses its attention on the constitution of the real abstractions that dominate social life, also on how they appear in the facts, and at the same time on the tension between the "existing" and the "possible". She wants to keep the door open for better practice.

To put it simply, its basic idea is “that the basic form of the historically given merchandise management (...) includes the internal and external opposites of the epoch, always emerges anew in an intensified form and after a period of ascent, the development of human powers, emancipation of the individual, after a tremendous expansion of human power over nature, finally inhibits further development and drives humanity towards a new barbarism ”. The critical theorist applies the categories of work , value , productivity , in the sense of the economically better, useful, expedient and productive, as they apply in this order, “exactly as what they apply in this order, and he considers each one other interpretation than bad idealism ”. On the other hand, it seems to him "the grossest untruth to simply accept this validity: the critical recognition of the categories that dominate social life also contains their condemnation". Horkheimer names “the pursuit of a state of affairs without exploitation and oppression” as the highest political and moral goal of critical theory .

Main messages

Horkheimer's early writings from the 1930s are paradigmatic in character for critical theory . For her, two moments are important: the proximity to Marxian theory and the interdisciplinary program.

The three main fields of observation of critical theory are economics , materialistic philosophy and, consequently, culture . In a combination of Marxist and psychoanalytic perspectives, “society” in particular is subjected to critical scrutiny. It is not only understood as a totality of people in a certain time, but rather social conditions are understood as man-made and viewed with the help of historical materialism . Due to Erich Fromm's commitment to the investigation of individual psychological, i. H. social-psychological character structures (authoritarian character), in addition to the social analysis, the individual is understood as what has become and its development from the social relations is considered. This clearly rejects philosophical anthropology “as a doctrine of the particular human nature in the sense of definitive statements about unchangeable human ideas that are not affected by history”. Family socialization ( family as a “ psychosocial agency ”), the mass media and mass culture play a special mediating role in the “preparation” of people and the stabilization of rule .

In late capitalist society , the increasing concentration of capital and bureaucratisation led to the destruction of the spontaneous and individual in the “ administered world ”. It is true that enlightening reason viewed the acquisition of true knowledge about the world as the essence of man, but this reason has changed to an "instrumental" and "purposeful" one. This instrumental reason regards the world and people solely from the aspect of utility. The relationships between individuals are, so the argumentation, largely objectified and objectified by breaking down traditional ties. They were noticeably reduced to mere exchange relationships.

In the end, a “totally managed world” emerges that exercises comprehensive social control over the individual and consistently suppresses idealism , nonconformism , unconventionality or creativity - as running contrary to their character.

The critical theory wants to give philosophy a practical and central meaning for society and thereby promises better conditions in a future society.


The starting point of Critical Theory was the work of Karl Marx , whose reception was viewed by most representatives of Critical Theory as distorted or abbreviated by Engels ' activity in order and editing after Marx's death, but above all by the labor movement and its various political parties or movements which is why Marx's theory has been reinterpreted (see also neo-Marxism ). The representatives of Critical Theory seen in Marx's theory, especially one ( ideology -) criticism of bourgeois - capitalist society and not economics doctrine, no philosophy of history or ideology . Here they tie in with other approaches of Western Marxism .

The second important foundation of Critical Theory consisted of categories from Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis , by means of which the socio- psychological effects (in the Freudian sense) of socio- economic conditions (in the Marxian sense) are explained, thus establishing a connection between Freudian psychoanalysis and Marxist social criticism enable. Since the critical theory examines the existing social conditions as obstacles to an objective science, research and teaching, the psychoanalytic perspective serves to explain various socio-psychological distortion and / or prejudice mechanisms. Theodor W. Adorno mostly speaks of "delusion connections". Marx only vaguely named these as an “ideological superstructure ”, while the thinkers of critical theory interpret them in the sense of stabilizing the prevailing conditions.

According to critical theory , the Enlightenment also failed because of these irrational mechanisms of distortion and prejudice . The possibility of an objective science is a prerequisite for the functioning of the objective-value-free enlightenment. This is based on an analytical-critical methodology and insight that can really be free of socio-economic constraints. This science overcomes its “subjective” irrationality resulting from these constraints in a free society.

The Critical Theory thus works out to draw methodological and analytical lessons from the failure of the Enlightenment and the basic conditions for an objective (right), really enlightened science in the form of dialectic as psychological and sociological analysis to create. This is to explain in more detail what Marx once called the “ideological superstructure”, whereby the Marxian postulate always remains that the ideology arises from the socio-economic conditions. The critical theory particularly emphasizes the dialectical interaction between being and consciousness. Due to the “delusion context”, the proletariat is no longer the revolutionary subject, but the isolated theorist, who sees his task in a targeted critical analysis of social conditions in order to maintain the hope of a revolution where it has become practically impossible. The labor movement therefore does not represent the striving for general freedom, but only its own interests. The Marxist analysis of the proletariat as a revolutionary subject, understood as scientific, is viewed as an illusion. Herbert Marcuse alone saw the "real" proletariat in the socially isolated and oppressed fringe groups. Many classical Marxists could not understand these lines of thought.

The Marxist philosopher Georg Lukács coined the polemical catchphrase of the "Grand Hotel Abgrund", initially referring to Schopenhauer, later (1963, in the foreword to the new edition of his theory of the novel ) also to "a considerable part of the leading German intelligentsia, including Adorno", who had the daily sight of the abyss in front of their eyes in refined comfort and between “comfortably enjoyed meals”, without ever being comfortable with the solution by means of the violent revolution. - Nonetheless, the early Lukács had a great influence on critical theory with his work History and Class Consciousness (1924), especially with the reification theorem explicated there . In the theory of reification, Hauke ​​Brunkhorst identifies the paradigmakers (in the sense of Kuhn's paradigm theory) of critical theory.

Due to the close connection between psychoanalysis and Marxian social criticism, critical theory is often referred to as “ Freudo Marxism ” in the Anglo-American language area or is assigned to it as a sub-category. The methodological and analytical basis is the use of a dialectic based on Hegel . Since the concrete manifestations of societal irrationality are more in the foreground than in the classic Marxist teaching structure, critical theory has spawned the scientific branch of socio-psychological and socio-economic prejudice research as one of the most important of its subfields .

The representatives of the Frankfurt School sharply demarcated themselves from positivism , whereby they understand by this all theoretical approaches that uncritically adopt and thus reproduce the existing social conditions and ideologies. Under this term, which is more broadly defined than in the history of ideas in philosophy, and which Adorno ranges from Oswald Spengler to Karl Popper , “anti- metaphysical ” currents of 20th century philosophy (in addition to positivism, neopositivism and analytical philosophy also the critical rationalism ). The dispute took place publicly from 1961 in the so-called positivism dispute . However, Karl Popper and Hans Albert expressly refused to be called “positivists”, as both reject this current of thought (Sölter 1996). For the "younger critical theory" this demarcation lost its importance because of Habermas' turn to the philosophy of normal language .


The development of critical theory began after Max Horkheimer took over the management of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main in 1931 . As Alfred Schmidt , Horkheimer's pupil, pointed out, it was never presented “in itself”, but always in the confrontation with other theories, intellectual or political currents. In the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung , a group of young scholars (Adorno, Marcuse, Löwenthal and Benjamin) around Horkheimer developed "categories of an overall conception of society that was to become world-famous as the critical theory of the Frankfurt School".

The following can be identified as the stages of development of the "older" critical theory:

  • 1. In his inaugural address as director of the institute in 1931, Horkheimer placed the focus of institute research on interdisciplinary cooperation between “philosophers, sociologists, economists, historians and psychologists in a permanent working group”. The individual scientific research results and their respective methodological perspectives should contribute to a socio-philosophically founded theory formation. The interdisciplinary collaboration resulted in the Studies on Authority and Family as the first book publication, which was published in 1936 by a Paris publisher. At this stage there was no talk of critical theory , but of materialism .
  • 2. With the programmatic writings of Horkheimer ( Traditional and Critical Theory ) and Herbert Marcuses ( Philosophy and Critical Theory ), published in 1937 in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung , according to Helmut Dubiel, the "critical theory" phase is initiated. In a memorandum from 1938, Horkheimer had outlined the plan for an extensive work on a “dialectical logic”, which was to understand logic in a similar way “as Hegel in his great work”, not as a list of abstract forms of thought, but as “ Determination of the most important content categories of the most advanced consciousness of the present ”. He had intended, as he explained in a letter to Felix Weil , that Weil and Pollock should be involved "in the development of the more principled parts". "[Our] interpretation of the current phase [...] must be filled to the point with historical and economic material, otherwise it acts as a rationality."
  • 3. In retrospect, the main work of critical theory is considered to be the Dialectic of Enlightenment jointly written by Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno in exile in America . However, the originally planned collaboration of Pollock and Weil did not materialize. Until the end of 1941, Herbert Marcuse was discussed as a possible employee of Horkheimer alongside Adorno . With the political experiences of growing fascism and the dwindling hope of an upheaval of social relations was for Gunzelin Schmid Noerr the Critical Theory , however, "theoretical and practical radical conservative". It signified a theoretical departure from Horkheimer's essays from the 1930s in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung , which were still supported by the confidence that the ideas of the philosophical and political Enlightenment could be translated materialistically and put into practice, an assumption that is now represented The thesis of the "universality of the delusion context " was radically questioned. The authors focused on a history of decay of reason that began with the early history of mankind: With the self-assertion of the subject against a threatening nature, an instrumental reason prevailed, which is the rule over the external and internal nature and finally in the institutionalized rule of Man manifested over man. From this constellation they derived a historical transition from enlightenment to a new mythology and the insight "why humanity, instead of entering a truly human condition, sinks into a new kind of barbarism". According to Joachim Hirsch , the theory of state capitalism , which was drafted in two essays by Friedrich Pollock at the same time , contributed to the fact that the economy was no longer seen as a social production relationship but as a technical process, whereby the institute's work made the characteristic transition from the critique of political economy to Criticism of technology, which then became the basis of their negative philosophy of history.

While in exile in the United States, Horkheimer and Adorno also worked on a study on the “ authoritarian character ” and thus presented an important piece of work explaining totalitarian regimes. At the same time they dealt with the then current philosophy of pragmatism in America and developed from it a critique of instrumental reason . After the Second World War , the work of the circle around Horkheimer and Adorno was called the Frankfurt School . Through the experiences of National Socialism , critical theory experienced a new upswing. Many of Adorno's students wanted explanations for what happened between 1933 and 1945 . It experienced its heyday in the worldwide movements of '68 . Herbert Marcuse had a strong influence on the student movement in the USA and West Germany . His book The One-Dimensional Man (1964) is one of the key works of critical theory alongside the dialectic of the Enlightenment .

The critical theory with the main representatives Horkheimer and Adorno is sometimes referred to as the "older critical theory", in contrast to the "younger critical theory", which was mainly developed by Jürgen Habermas . Nevertheless, there are significant differences between the older critical theory , which found its most valid manifestation in the dialectic of the Enlightenment , and the more recent critical theory , which reached its conceptual point of accumulation in the theory of communicative reason .

In the present, Axel Honneth, as director of the Institute for Social Research, was one of the most important representatives and advocates of critical theory . With his theory of recognition and the criticism program “Paradoxes of Capitalist Modernization” he again set different priorities than Habermas.


The Critical Theory was the epitome of the Frankfurt School restricted in the 1930s and 1940s to a limited group of people. Its reception and continuation today encompasses a worldwide circle of philosophers and social scientists. Critical theory has had an immense influence on historical, legal, literary and social science studies since the 1970s, judges the Encyclopaedia Britannica . The four-volume English edition Critical Theory documents their broad spectrum . A German equivalent is the two-volume handbook Critical Theory .

Jürgen Ritsert , one of the early Frankfurt sociology graduate students and later professor of sociology there himself, analyzed in a lengthy essay the concept of critique, which is fundamental for critical theory, in its various dimensions, whereby the “immanent critique” and the “critique of the social Practice ”is of particular importance. He identifies freedom, equality, justice and reason as normative principles of criticism . He states with Horkheimer and Adorno as well as Marcuse and Habermas that "variations of the principle of autonomy [...] are the linchpin of all answers to the notorious 'problem of scale'".

With its extended dissertation critique of power underwent Axel Honneth the Critical Theory of fulminant critical reception. In the first part of his work, he exposes the sociological deficits of the interdisciplinary social science sought by Horkheimer. His model of a critical social theory is based on the assumptions of political economy on the one hand and psychoanalysis on the other, with sociology only assuming "the marginal position of an auxiliary science". In the second stage of development of critical theory , for which the book Dialectic of Enlightenment stands, he criticizes the authors' claim of the "correspondence relationship" between the domination of nature and social domination, with which they 'have to deny the pure possibility of thinking of a type of consensually secured domination'.

In his criticism of Adorno's Negative Dialectic , the philosopher Günter Rohrmoser, who belongs to the knight school, compares Adorno with Heidegger and accuses them of having both “part in the destruction of reason” in their relationship to the tradition of the philosophy of reason. Both followed the urge to "express the inexpressible" which eludes reason; with Adorno it is the non-identical, with Heidegger it is being. Not unlike Adorno, Heidegger also sees the rule of rule in modern science and technology as a universal principle. In their theories of history and the present age, both agreed. And just as dialectic stands for the possibility of a totally different, Heidegger understands his thinking as the place of a new arrival of being.

The sociologist Heinz Gess , who appears as the “keeper of the grail” of the older critical theory with his online publication Critique Network - Journal for Critical Theory of Society , rejects the term critical theory for the philosophy of Habermas and Honneth. Among other things, he accused them of having turned the philosophy of Adorno and Horkheimer into its opposite by interpreting too conformally.

From a Marxist point of view, Stefan Breuer accused Habermas of "depotentiating critical theory" because he did without the explanatory content of Marx's theory of value and thus missed the concept of reification from the outset; Moreover, it is one-sided to declare "language the sole constituent of history".

The British author Steve Jeffries Habermas, on the other hand, sees the importance of critical theory as positive. According to him, his thinking “can be seen as a reversal of the dialectic of the Enlightenment”, as a “farewell to the abyss”. In his speech on the 1980 Adorno Prize, for example, he abolished “the most striking principle of the Frankfurt School” that reason had enslaved people. The Enlightenment released people from the “monotheistic Judeo-Christian tradition” to a “secular morality”.

Representative (after generations)

1st generation (born 1892–1905):

Intellectually, this generation had already emerged during the Weimar Republic and during emigration through significant contributions to critical theory; their relatives were in personal contact with each other. All of them were threatened by National Socialist persecution and emigrated.

2nd generation (born 1922–1937):

The majority of this generation are students of Horkheimer and Adorno, whose work falls exclusively into the post-war period; In contrast to the 1st generation, their interaction is based more on chance personal contacts.

3rd generation : Axel Honneth and Nancy Fraser are often named as their main representatives . Muharrem Açikgöz lists another 37 candidates from German-speaking and 31 from English-speaking countries based on the literature he has evaluated.

See also


  • Muharrem Açikgöz: The Permanence of Critical Theory. The second generation as a divided community of interpretation . Westphalian steam boat, Münster 2014, ISBN 978-3-89691-951-9 .
  • Roger Behrens : Critical Theory . European Publishing House, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-434-46114-0 .
  • Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Alex Demirović , Tatjana Freytag (eds.): Handbook of Critical Theory . 2 vols. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2019, ISBN 978-3-658-12694-0 .
  • Ulf Bohmann, Paul Sörensen (Ed.): Critical Theory of Politics . Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-518-29863-3 .
  • Gerhard Bolte: Message in a bottle. Theses and essays on the critical theory of society . Oktober Verlag , Münster 2001, ISBN 3-938568-19-4 .
  • Wolfgang Bonß , Axel Honneth (ed.): Social research as criticism. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1982, ISBN 3-518-28000-7 .
  • Stefan Breuer : Critical Theory. Keywords, controversies, limits . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2016, ISBN 978-3-16-154630-3 .
  • Alex Demirović : The non-conformist intellectual. The development of critical theory for the Frankfurt School . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-518-29040-1 .
  • Helmut Dubiel : Scientific organization and political experience. Studies on Early Critical Theory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1978, ISBN 3-518-07858-5 .
  • Helmut Dubiel: Critical Theory of Society. An introductory reconstruction from the beginnings in the Horkheimer district to Habermas . 2nd Edition. Juventa, Weinstein / Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7799-0386-5 .
  • Stefan Gandler : Frankfurt Fragments. Essays on Critical Theory . Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2013, ISBN 978-3-631-63400-4 .
  • Lars Gertenbach u. Hartmut Rosa : Critical Theory . In: L. Gertenbach, H. Kahlert, S. Kaufmann, H. Rosa, C. Weinbach (Eds.): Sociological Theories . Fink, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-8252-3296-2 .
  • Heinz Gess (Ed.): Critical Network . Internet journal for critical theory of society . ISSN  1866-4105 .
  • Willi Goetschel : Heine and Critical Theory . Bloomsbury Academic, London a. a. 2019, ISBN 978-1-350-08726-2 .
  • Ulrich Gmünder: Critical Theory. Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas (=  Metzler Collection . Volume 20 ). Stuttgart 1985, ISBN 3-476-10220-3 .
  • Andreas Gruschka , Ulrich Oevermann (Hrsg.): The vitality of the critical social theory. Documentation of the workshop on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Theodor W. Adorno. Pandora's box, Wetzlar 2004, ISBN 3-88178-324-5 .
  • Axel Honneth: From Adorno to Habermas. On the change in shape of critical social theory . In: Wolfgang Bonß, Axel Honneth (ed.): Social research as criticism . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1982, ISBN 3-518-28000-7 , pp. 87-126 .
  • Axel Honneth (ed.): Key texts of critical theory . VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-14108-2 .
  • Axel Honneth, Albrecht Wellmer (Ed.): The Frankfurt School and the Consequences . Lectures at a symposium of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation from 10. – 15. December 1984 in Ludwigsburg. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York 1986, ISBN 3-11-010805-4 .
  • Dietrich Hoß / Heinz Steinert (eds.): Reason and Subversion. The legacy of Surrealism and Critical Theory . Westphalian steam boat , Münster 1997, ISBN 3-89691-418-9 .
  • Martin Jay : Dialectical Fantasy. The history of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research 1923–1950 . Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-596-26546-0 .
  • Stuart Jeffries: Grand Hotel Abyss. The Frankfurt School and its time . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2019
  • Thomas McCarthy: Ideals and Illusions. Deconstruction and Reconstruction in Critical Theory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-518-58159-7 .
  • Johannes Platz: The Practice of Critical Theory. Applied social science and democracy in the early Federal Republic 1950–1960 . University of Trier, Trier 2012 ( online ).
  • Dieter Prokop : The almost impossible feat of criticism. Epistemological problems when dealing critically with the culture industry. Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8288-9396-2 .
  • Willem van Reijen : Philosophy as Critique. Introduction to Critical Theory . Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1984, ISBN 3-7610-1514-3 .
  • Günter Rohrmoser : The misery of critical theory. Theodor W. Adorno. Herbert Marcuse. Jürgen Habermas . 3. Edition. Rombach, Freiburg 1972, ISBN 3-7930-0933-5 .
  • Gunzelin Schmid Noerr : The mind of nature in the subject. On the dialectic of reason and nature in the critical theory of Horkheimer, Adornos and Marcuse. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1990, ISBN 3-534-10694-6 .
  • Alfred Schmidt: The original conception of critical theory in the early and middle work of Max Horkheimer. In: Axel Honneth, Albrecht Wellmer (ed.): The Frankfurt School and the Consequences. Lectures at a symposium of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation from 10. – 15. December 1984 in Ludwigsburg. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York 1986, pp. 89-112.
  • Rüdiger Schmidt-Grépály, Jan Urbich, Claudia Wirsing (eds.): The state of emergency as the rule. A balance sheet of critical theory . With contributions by Christa and Peter Bürger, Rolf Wiggershaus, Wolfgang Kraushaar, Axel Honneth, Christoph Menke, Martin Seel, Oskar Negt, Alfred Schmidt, Albrecht Wellmer, Martin Jay, Sigrid Weigel. Publishing house of the Bauhaus University Weimar, Weimar 2013, ISBN 978-3-86068-493-1 .
  • Gerhard Schweppenhäuser: Critical Theory . Reclam, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-15-020330-9 .
  • Arpad A. Sölter: Modernism and cultural criticism. Jürgen Habermas and the legacy of critical theory. Bouvier Verlag Bonn 1996, ISBN 3-416-02545-8 . [Diss. Univ. Cologne 1993].
  • Michael Theunissen : Society and History. On the critique of critical theory . de Gruyter, Berlin 1969.
  • Christoph Türcke , Gerhard Bolte: Introduction to Critical Theory . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1994, ISBN 3-534-12014-0 .
  • Emil Walter-Busch : History of the Frankfurt School. Critical Theory and Politics . Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-7705-4943-6 .
  • Rolf Wiggershaus : The Frankfurt School. History, Theoretical Development, Political Significance . DTV, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-423-30174-0 .

Web links


  1. ^ Gerhard Schweppenhäuser: At the end of the bourgeois philosophy of history. Max Horkheimer / Theodor W. Adorno: 'Dialectic of Enlightenment' (1947). In: Walter Erhard, Herbert Jaumann (Ed.): Century books. Great theories from Freud to Luhmann . Beck, Munich 2000, p. 188.
  2. Critical Theory. In: Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism. Volume 8 / I: Crisis theories up to the Luxemburg-Gramsci line. Argument, Hamburg 2012, column 198.
  3. Radical Philosophy of the Frankfurt School . In: Conversations with Herbert Marcuse . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1978, p. 124.
  4. Heinz Gess : Max Horkheimer: Traditional and critical theory. In: criticism network . Internet Journal for Critical Theory of Society, ISSN  1866-4105
  5. Heinz Gess: Critical Theory - What is it? In: criticism network. Internet Journal for Critical Theory of Society, ISSN  1866-4105
  6. Heinz Gess: Horkheimer: The Rationalismusstreit in the contemporary philosophy In: Critique network. Internet Journal for Critical Theory of Society, ISSN  1866-4105
  7. Max Horkheimer: Traditional and critical theory . In: Ders .: Collected Writings , Volume 4. Frankfurt am Main 1988, p. 201.
  8. Max Horkheimer: Traditional and critical theory . In: Ders .: Collected Writings , Volume 4. Frankfurt am Main 1988.
  9. Max Horkheimer: Traditional and critical theory . In: Ders .: Collected Writings , Volume 4. Frankfurt am Main 1988.
  10. Quoted from: Jürgen Risert: Basic concept: Criticism . In: Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Alex Demirović, Tatjana Freytag (eds.): Handbook of Critical Theory . Volume 1. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2019, pp. 45–87, here p. 55.
  11. Muharrem Açikgöz: The Permanence of Critical Theory. The second generation as a divided community of interpretation. Westphalian steam boat, Münster 2014, p. 103.
  12. Max Horkheimer: Beginnings of the bourgeois historical philosophy (1930). In: Ders .: Collected Writings , Volume 2: Philosophical early writings 1922–1932 . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1987, pp. 177-268, here p. 202.
  13. ^ Georg Lukács: Foreword to the new edition The theory of the novel . Luchterhand, Neuwied 1963, p. 17.
  14. Hauke ​​Brunkhorst: Paradigmakers and theoretical dynamics of the critical theory of society . In: Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Alex Demirović , Tatjana Freytag (eds.): Handbook of Critical Theory . Volume 1. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2019, pp. 623-661.
  15. ^ Alfred Schmidt: The original conception of the critical theory in the early and middle work of Max Horkheimer . In: Axel Honneth, Albrecht Wellmer (ed.): The Frankfurt School and the Consequences . Lectures at a symposium of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation from 10. – 15. December 1984 in Ludwigsburg. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York 1986, pp. 89–112, here pp. 89 and 99.
  16. Max Horkheimer: The present situation of the social philosophy . In: Max Horlheimner: Collected writings . Volume 3: Writings 1931-1936 . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1988, p. 29.
  17. Studies on Authority and Family. Research reports from the Institute for Social Research . Felix Alcan, Paris 1936.
  18. ^ Helmut Dubiel: Scientific organization and political experience. Studies on early critical theory, Suhrkamnp, Frankfurt am Main 1978, p. 24.
  19. ^ Helmut Dubiel: Scientific organization and political experience. Studies on Early Critical Theory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1978, p. 66.
  20. ^ Max Horkheimer: Collected writings . Volume 12: Legacy writings 1931–1949. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 156 f.
  21. ^ Letter from Horkheimer to Felix Weil, March 10, 1942. In: Max Horkheimer: Gesammelte Schriften. Volume 17: Correspondence 1941–1947. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1996, p. 275.
  22. Stefan Breuer : Critical Theory. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2016, p. 169.
  23. ^ Gunzelin Schmid Noerr: Afterword by the editor. In: Max Horkheimer: Collected writings. Volume 5. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1987, pp. 423-452, here p. 434.
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  25. ^ Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno: Dialectic of Enlightenment. Philosophical Fragments . In: Max Horkheimer: Collected writings . Volume 5. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1987, p. 16.
  26. Helmut Dubiel, Alfred Söllner : The National Socialism Research of the Institute for Social Research - its scientific position and its current importance : In: Helmut Dubiel, Alfred Söllner (ed.): Economy, Law and State in National Socialism. Analyzes by the Institute for Social Research 1939–1942 .Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1984, pp. 7–31, here p. 14.
  27. Joachim Hirsch: Capitalism? On the controversy between Friedrich Pollock, Max Horkheimer and Franz Neumann regarding the character of the National Socialist system . In: Ulrich Ruschig, Hans-Ernst Schiller (ed.): State and politics with Horkheimer and Adorno . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2014, pp. 60–72, here p. 62.
  28. Axel Honneth, Ferdinand Sutterlüty: Normative Paradoxien der Gegenwart - a research perspective. In: WestEnd. New journal for social research. 8th year 2011, issue 1, pp. 67-85.
  29. ^ Richard Wolin: Max Horkheimer. In: Encyclopædia Britannica . ( ).
  30. ^ Edited by David Rasmussen (Boston College, USA) and James Swindal (Duquesne University, USA). Sage Publications 2003.
  31. Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Alex Demirović, Tatjana Freytag (eds.): (2019). Critical Theory Handbook. 2 volumes. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2019.
  32. Jürgen Ritsert: Basic term: criticism . In: Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Alex Demirović, Tatjana Freytag (eds.): Handbook of Critical Theory . Volume 1. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2019, pp. 45–87, here p. 50.
  33. Jürgen Ritsert: Basic term: criticism . In: Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Alex Demirović, Tatjana Freytag (eds.): Handbook of Critical Theory . Volume 1. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2019, pp. 45–87, here p. 85.
  34. Axel Honneth: Critique of Power. Levels of reflection in a critical social theory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1985.
  35. Axel Honneth: Critique of Power. Levels of reflection in a critical social theory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 40.
  36. Axel Honneth: Critique of Power. Levels of reflection in a critical social theory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 66 f.
  37. ^ Günter Rohrmoser: The misery of the critical theory . 3. Edition. Rombach, Freiburg 1972, p. 37.
  38. ^ Günter Rohrmoser: The misery of the critical theory . 3. Edition. Rombach, Freiburg 1972, p. 38.
  39. ^ Günter Rohrmoser: The misery of the critical theory . 3. Edition. Rombach, Freiburg 1972, p. 41 ff.
  40. Heinz Gess: The purification of the German social philosophy by the critical critic Axel Honneth. Honneth's criticism of Israel in the context of his theory . In: Heinz Gess (ed.): Critical Network - Journal for Critical Theory of Society . 2013, ISSN  1866-4105 ( ).
  41. ^ Stefan Müller-Doohm, Dorothee Zucker: Communicative action as a social unit: theses and antitheses . In: Luca Chorchia, Stefan Müller-Doohm, William Outhwaite (eds.): Habermas global. History of the impact of a work . Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2019, pp. 19–109, here p. 105.
  42. Stuart Jeffries: Grand Hotel Abyss. The Frankfurt School and its time . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2019, p. 428.
  43. Stuart Jeffries: Grand Hotel Abyss. The Frankfurt School and its time . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2019, p. 417.
  44. Stuart Jeffries: Grand Hotel Abyss. The Frankfurt School and its time . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2019, p. 434.
  45. Compare to his "critical theory of the subject" influenced by Mitscherlich and its contextualization in the context of the debates about the critical theory, for example Helmut Dahmer: Libido and Society - Studies on Freud and the Freudian Left. Frankfurt am Main 1973, ISBN 3-518-07270-6 ; Bernard Görlich: Freud's science of the unconscious - its meaning for a critical theory of the subject. In: Bernard Paul Geyer, Monika Schmitz-Emans: Proteus in the mirror - critical theory of the subject in the 20th century. Königshausen & Neumann, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-8260-2633-0 , p. 91 ff. On his influence on Habermas for example knowledge and interest , p. 10.
  46. Muharrem Açikgöz: The Permanence of Critical Theory. The second generation as a divided community of interpretation. Westphalian steam boat, Münster 2014, p. 129f.