Allen’s critique of current Frankfurt School theory presents the joint methods of “problematizing genealogy” and “metanormative contextualism” as alternative for the normative grounding of critical theory. Through a close reading of Allen’s critique, I investigate whether Allen’s identification of philosophy of history is an accurate diagnosis of the problems of the normative grounding of current Frankfurt School theory, whether Allen’s distinction between metanormative and normative levels is tenable for critical theory, and whether Allen’s methodology constitutes a viable alternative for the normative grounding of critical theory. As an alternative, I suggest scrutinizing the grounding strategies of current Frankfurt School theory to expand beyond their genealogy in Enlightenment thought, and address the question of what made the affirmative form of thought underlying current Frankfurt School theory a historical possibility. Expanding on Allen’s reiteration of the mediated nature of categories, I suggest that the stark contrast between forms of thought underlying first- and second-generation Frankfurt School critical theory needs to be understood not in relation to philosophy of history but against the backdrop of the specific context of the European historical present that informs its normative universe.
Kadakal, R. (2019), "History, Critique, and Progress: Amy Allen’s “
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