Issues in Social and Political Philosophy (PHIL*3230) | College of Arts

Issues in Social and Political Philosophy (PHIL*3230)

Term: Winter 2014


In this class we will investigate the unbreakable bond between the philosophical findings of the Frankfurt School and its socio-political context. We will especially focus on the authors of Critical Theory in their reflections upon Weimar Germany, National Socialism, and the period after WWII. Particularly important are the insights of Critical Theory about the connection between science and ideology, capitalism and totalitarian trends, and the exclusivist core of the Enlightenment project. We will focus on the multiple-level mutuality between the political history and its philosophical articulation. The goal of this class is not only to point out examples where power and knowledge intertwine, but also to suggest the impossibility of understanding and analyzing them separately. Only within this analytical frame can we estimate the success of Critical Theory in its refutation of the totalizing core it ascribes to modernity and Western
metaphysics overall.

The following questions are crucial for this class: What is the crisis of Enlightenment and how do we raise the question of its overcoming? What constitutes the privileged role of the critique of ideology? How did the devastating political experience of wars and totalitarianisms of the 20th century shape its philosophical currents? What is the role of the aesthetic narratives in the self-disclosure of the totalitarian practices?

We will begin this class by providing an overview of the philosophical significance of Kant, Hegel, and Marx for Critical Theory within the context of its critical examination of the Enlightenment project. In the second part of the course we will carefully study Adorno’s, Horkheimer’s, and Kracauer’s reflections upon the cultural industry, mass media, and the relationship between art and totalitarian regimes. We will spend the rest of the class examining the basic concepts of Critical Theory in the texts by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.


PDF icon PHIL3230 W14 Syllabus_3.pdf134.41 KB