since Marxism provides a critique of capitalism and modernism.
The question Horkheimer and Adorno (HA) asked was "why humanity, instead of entering into a truly human condition, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism" (Kellner, 1989, p. 85). HA considered scientific thought to have become increasingly formalist, conformist, and instrumental, rather than raising critical questions concerning society and being skeptical toward systems of thought. They consider the enlightenment to have been a long development from the Greeks on, where enlightened thought "emancipates human beings from the despotism of myth and helps them to control and dominate nature" (Kellner, 1989, p. 87). Kellner argues that what HA were attempting to do is how the ways in which enlightened thought contained traces of myth and irrationality, although being seemingly rational in content. Further Kellner looks on this work as "a history and pre-history of the bourgeois subject and that subject’s project of the domination of nature" (Kellner, 1989, p. 87). While rationality and domination of nature to pursue human interests is usually considered the aim of enlightenment, HA note that "what men want to learn from nature is how to use it in order to wholly dominte it and other men. This is the only aim" (Kellner, 1989, pp. 87-8). As a result, they consider enlightenment reason to not be liberating, but to be a form of totalitarian thought – with reason serving the interests of domination by being part of existing society. While HA considered there to be a progressive element to enlightenment thought and reason, they regarded such reason as mostly instrumental and based on a formal rationality, rather than being critical reason. As a result, truth becomes identified with certain forms of science and technology, mathematics, logic, calculation, efficiency, quantification – with these forms of rationality privileged over other forms. HA provided the first real critique of science and technology from a left or radical point of view; previously Marxists had generally defended these as progressive. But HA saw these as limiting forms of thought, where everything needed to be calculated and have formal equivalence, thus creating a new form of totalitarian thought and limiting human creativity, individuality, and uniqueness. The influence of Weber is notable here, with HA taking his arguments much beyond Weber’s analysis.Not only does enlightenment limit thought and reason, it leads The idea here is that forms of pure reason developed by Kant and other philosophers were applied by the bourgeoisie in the economic sphere to the problem of organizing production more efficiently, then to more rational forms of prisons, and ultimately by the Nazis to the rational organization of concentration camps. Taken to this extreme, there are obvious deficiencies to the approach of HA, in that capitalism has not uniformly taken the route that developed in Nazi Germany. HA were undoubtedly overly impressed with what happened in Germany and viewed it as the future of modernity everywhere. At the same time, the tendencies that HA describe do exist in capitalism and modernity, and it is worth considering their analysis in order to focus on the positive and negative features of modernity. vi. Art and Culture. (Notes primarily from Kellner, 1989, Chapter 5, "From ‘Authentic Art’ to the Culture Industries"). In contrast to Marxian theories, critical theorists made analysis of art and culture a central focus of their studies, and noted developments in culture that were not purely economic in origin. Rather, the dialectic of enlightment was used as critique of culture. Kellner notes that they argued that
Postmodernism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Habermas's critique of postmodernism on the basis of performativecontradiction and the paradox of self-reference sets the tone and theterms for much of the critical debate now under way. Whilepostmodernists have rejected these criticisms, or responded to themwith rhetorical counter-strategies. Lyotard, for example, rejectsthe notion that intersubjective communication implies a set of rulesalready agreed upon, and that universal consensus is the ultimategoal of discourse (see Lyotard 1984 , 65-66). Thatpostmodernists openly respond to Habermas is due to the fact that hetakes postmodernism seriously and does not, like other critics,reject it as mere nonsense. Indeed, that he is able to readpostmodernist texts closely and discursively testifies to theirintelligibility. He also agrees with the postmodernists that thefocus of debate should be upon modernity as it is realized in socialpractices and institutions, rather than upon theories of cognition orformal linguistics as autonomous domains. In this respect, Habermas'sconcern with inter-subjective communication helps clarify the basisupon which the modernist-postmodernist debates continue to playout.
Note that critical theory differs from post-modern approaches to social theory. Theorists in the latter perspective tend to argue that modernity has ended, or that modernity must be rejected in its totality. Post-modernists may even reject social theory and political practice whereas critical theorists tend to theorize extensively and some argue that politics can be used to pursue progress. Critical theorists generally tend to have a comprehensive and overall social theory and an idea of progress and a better world, even if they are unable to find ways of getting there. In contrast, a post-modern approach is more likely to be associated with rejection of comprehensive, universal theory.
Post-modern just means ‘coming after’ modernism
The Institute began its work in Germany and continued through 1933, when the Nazis came to power. Most of those who were members of the Institute went to the United States at that time, with some like Marcuse staying there, while others returned to Germany after World War II. The Institute was established in New York City and became affiliated with Columbia University and it was there that the term "critical theory" became associated with the Institute. After WWII, the Institute was reestablished in Germany and continues to operate there. Following the death of Horkheimer and Adorno, Jurgen Habermas became the leading critical theorist, a position he continues to hold.Dates for major critical theorists:Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)Max Horkheimer (1895-1973)Theodor Adorno (1903-1969)Erich Fromm (1900-1980)Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979)Jurgen Habermas (1929- )b. Materialism and Idealism. Critical theory is thus primarily a European social theory, influenced by the German tradition of Marx and Weber and by the experience of fascism, but also by the changing aspects of modern capitalism. Calhoun notes as influences Marxism, psychoanalysis, German idealist philosophy and theology, and other writers such as Nietzsche (p. 440).
Cultural Critique in Anthropology – The Memory Bank
Modernism is an area of literary research particularly subject to contest and revision. Most studies converge on the period between 1890 and 1940 in their attempts to date modernism, but there is wide variation, with some accounts stretching this time frame back to the early 19th century and others forward to the beginning of the 21st century. For the major touchstones, there has long been consensus over the inclusion of writers such as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, and that would now probably extend to the likes of H.D., Katherine Mansfield, and D. H. Lawrence. But there has historically been less agreement over whether avant-garde movements such as the futurists and Dadaists should appear in the “canon” of modernism, or whether “high” modernism is inherently hostile to the kinds of mass cultural and political movements with which these groups engaged. More recent studies have pointed out that if modernism is to include writers outside the usual metropolitan locations of Berlin, London, New York, and Paris, then it needs to become a more flexible and polycentric category that is less firmly attached to a period that favors Western—and more specifically English-language—writing. Modernism has always had a close relationship with the academy, making it particularly susceptible to changes in critical approach. It entered the academy along with the New Criticism in the United States and Practical Criticism in the United Kingdom, both formalist approaches that modernist poetry seemed to legitimate and, insofar as it resists easy reading, to demand. Modernism has also been usefully subjected to, and sometimes seemed to anticipate, the rigors of feminist, psychoanalytic, queer, post-structuralist, and cultural studies readings. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine feminist literary theory without Woolf, or Derridean deconstruction without Joyce. This bibliography provides a sense of the way that modernist studies has evolved over the last fifty years or so, and how this has changed the scope and the makeup of the category of modernist literature itself.