Dahms (2008, pp. 43–45) distinguishes Critical Theory from “Critical Liberalism, Cultural Pessimism, and Public Sociology”. He means, first and foremost, to underscore the political gulf that has opened between the original Frankfurt School thinkers and their most celebrated second and third generation heirs, Habermas and Alex Honneth. The latter's affirmative theoretical embrace of progress and cautious optimism render them constitutionally incapable of understanding their putative subject matter, modernity, and thus also of articulating a radical politics sufficient to provide orientation to the specific – the specifically totalizing and lethal – spatio-temporal challenges that confront humanity at the end of modern society. Having barred themselves from fully considering their own participation in a contradictory and deadly system, Habermas’ and Honneth's a priori ideological commitments render them unable to “face facts,” as Dahms (2008, p. 44) stresses, and thus unable to execute a discerning, or even a useful, critical social science. Unwilling to practice Marx's dictum that critique must be followed to its logical conclusion and without regard to opposition from the powers that be, Habermas and Honneth's otherwise very considerable erudition thus fails Critical Theory's original and still most essential litmus test.
Dandaneau, S.P. (2009), "The actuality of critical theory: A reply to Dahms’ late prolegomenon", Dahms, H.F. (Ed.) Nature, Knowledge and Negation (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 315-325. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0278-1204(2009)0000026015Download as .RIS
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