Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer

By Max Horkheimer

Matthew J. O'Connell (Translator), Stanley Aronowitz (Introduction)

These essays, written within the Nineteen Thirties and Forties, characterize a primary choice in English from the foremost paintings of the founding father of the well-known Institute for Social learn in Frankfurt. Horkheimer's writings are necessary to an figuring out of the highbrow heritage of the recent Left and the to a lot present social-philosophical notion, together with the paintings of Herbert Marcuse. except their ancient importance or even from their scholarly eminence, those essays include a right away relevance in basic terms now changing into absolutely recognized.


"Those in...the philosophical basis of the recent Left, or a nonpositivist idea of information, should still seek advice this primary translation into English of Horkheimer's so much trenchant essays."—Library magazine

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Karl Jaspers, Psychologic der Weltanschauungen (Berlin, 1919), p. 4. 12 MATERIALISM AND METAPHYSICS image of their interests as harmonizing and producing a frictionless functioning of the whole economy was applied to society as a whole and to its various social classes. The monopolistic phase goes even further in denying class conflicts, but (he struggle in (he world market between a few power groups has become so much (he principal theme of the period that instead of harmony between individuals, such concepts as tragedy, heroism, and destiny have come to be the main categories for a philosophy of history.

The claim that there is an absolute order and an absolute demand made upon man always supposes a claim to know the whole, the totality of things, the infinite. But if our knowledge is in fact not yet final, if there is an irreducible tension between concept and being, then no proposition can claim the dignity of perfect knowledge. Knowledge of the infinite must itself be infinite, and a knowledge which is admittedly imperfect is not a knowledge of the absolute. Consequently metaphysics tends to regard the whole world as the product of reason, for reason knows only itself perfectly.

Even the possibility of establishing certain general human traits by considering man in his past history does not lead to a hypostatization of these traits as suprahistorical factors. Society, on which man's existence partially depends, is a totality which cannot be compared to anything else and is continuously restructuring itself. Thus, while the similarity of human traits through the various periods of 26. Thomas Hobbes, Concerning Body I. 1. 6, in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes, ed. by Sir William Molesworth, volume 1 (London, 1839), p.

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