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Preface lx
O Urizen Books, New Yok l97t General Introduction Paul Piccone xt

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, PartI Political Sociology and
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photo- Critique of Politics
copy, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher.

Printed in the United States of America. Introduction by Andrew Arato

U,.1 rne End of Reason Max Horkheimer 26

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Main entry under title: ! ,- Changes in the Structure of
Political Compromise Otto Kirchheimer 49
The Essential Frankfurt School Reader ,- State Capitalism: Its Possibilities
v, \-
and Ltmttatons Friedrich Pollock 7t
Bibliography: p.
l. Mass society-Addresses, essays, lectures. tJC. The Authoritarian State MaxHorkheimer 95
2. Political science-Addresses, essays, lectures.
',, Freudian Theorv and the Pattern
I l/ -
3. Economics-Addresses, lectures. eL
4. Social sciences-Methodology-Addresses, essays, lectures. of Fascist Propaganda TheodorW. Adorno I l8
I. Arato, Andrew. II. Gerhardt, Eike. Some Social Implications of
HM 101.8745
tsBN 0-916354-30-X
300'.8 76-30906
ISBN 0-9163s4-31-8 pbk
V)( Modem Technology Herbert Marcuse r38
Notes r63

Part Il Esthctic Thcory and Cultural Criticism

Intrxluclion by Andrew Arato 185

Introductory note by Eike Gebhardt
. l:duard Fuchs: Collector
and Historian WalterBenjamin 22s Preface
r Thc Author as Producer WalterBenjamin 254
On thc Fetish Character in Music
I -d the Regression of Listening Adorno
TheodorW. 270
,- Commitment Adorno
TheodorW. 300
Knut Hamsun Leo Lowenthal 319
Notes 346

Part III A Critique of Methodology

Introduction by Eike Gebhardt 371

The critical theory of the Frankfurt School is no longer a stranger to an
'Jil O, the Problem of Truth Max Horkheimer 407
English-speaking audience. Several volumes of Adorno, Horkheimer
'.,'.- n Note on Dialectic Herbert Marcuse 444 and Benjamin have recently been published, not to speak of the
already available works of Marcuse, Neumann, Kirchheimer, Low-
' The Sociology of Knowledge
enthal and Fromm. There is a significant semiofficial biography of the
and its Consciousness TheodorW. Adorno 452
)COn Science and Phenomenology Herbert Marcuse 466 school by Martin Jay as well as a whole range of treatments both
The Method and Function of an sympathetic and hostile in the recent books of Russell Jacoby, Wil-
Analytic Social Psychology ErichFromm 477 liam Leiss, Trent Schroyer, Susan Buck-Morss, George Lichtheim,
Object Theodor W. Adorno 497 Zoltan Tar, Perry Anderson, Philip Slater and Alasdair Maclntyre,
lSubject zurd
Notes 512 and in the journals Telos, New German Critique and Social Re-
Biographical Notes 528 search.
Bibliography 530 In this context, the purpose of our anthology is threefold. ( I ) We
Index 542 wmt to concentrate on the social theories of the School, usually
Acknowledgements 5s9 interpreted from the point of view of the somewhat later socio-
philosophical synthesis, impressive but far less flexible, that correctly
goes under the name of "critique of domination" and "critique of
instrumental reason. (2) We wart to correct some widespread miscon-
ceptions about the political and intellectual purposes of the School, as
well as refute the myth of a single, unified critical theory of society . At
least eight authors are, therefore, represented in the volume. (3) We
want both to introduce undergraduate students of sociology, political
science, philosophy and intellectual history to critical theory, and to
provide advanced students as well as working scholars with a number
of hitherto untranslated or inaccessible texts. Almost no selection
from an easily available source is therefore reproduced. These three
criteria have served as our guiding principles of selection. For rea-

sons of space, we had to restrict ourselves to the works of the first

generation of critical theorists. In any volume subsequent to this
Reader, the figure of Habermas would inevitably play a major role.
General Introduction
In light of the essay characfer of all our selections, we sought to
provide the reader with a range of introductory and explanatory
materials: (1) A general introduction by Paul Piccone; (2) extensive
introductions to each of the three parts of the anthology: "Political
Sociology and Critique of Politics" by Andrew Arato; "Esthetic
Theory and Cultural Criticism " (first four sections by Arato, last
secfion by Gebhardt); "A Critique of Methodology" by Eike
Gebhardt; (3) biographical notes; (4) a bibliography of works of rhe
authors in English by Matthew Smosna; (5) prefatory notes to each
selection by Gebhardt and Arato.
It was our primary intention to locate our authors and their works
intellectually and politically, and to supply as many of the missing
links in their argumentation as possible. That is, we sought to recon-
struct immanently tbree major dimensions of the Frankfurt School's
theoretical spectrum: political sociology, cultural theory and critical
methodology. Above all, we wanted to avoid judging them from a "-CrfSal_t_qry," the qmbella for a whole spectrum of posi-
transcendent vantage point. Our conception of immanent critique tions_associated with the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research,
derives from Adomo. Our interest lies in those internal tensions, has finally, after long delay, an opportunity to become an in-
differences, oppositions, problems and debates, in a word, in those tegral part of English-speaking culture. Comprised of
"antinomies," which drive the self-critique of critical theory forward philosophers, literary critics, sociologists, psychologists,
as a forceful witness to the hope that theory is still capable of address- economists and political scientists-of whom Theodor W. Ador-
ing itself to radical and liberating needs. no, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Otto
Andrew Arato Kirchheimer, Leo Lowenthal, Herbert Marcuse, Franz
Eike Gebhardt Neumann and Friedrich Pollock are the major figures-the
June 1977 Frankfurt School came into existence in the mid-1920s as an
association of Left intellectuals that formed the privately funded
Institute for Social Research.
f[g poncept _of "critical theory" derives from the traditions
o!_Kantian critical philosophy and of Marxian critique of
,fdgq&gy. Kant himself defined his late philosophy as critical,
and entitled his three greatest works "Critiques"-of pure
theoretical' reason, of practical reason and of esthetic and
-ie;-i- '
CJt.q its of rational
EA ifaculties undertaken by reason itself: assuming a self-reflective
(d^* I or "transcendental" posture, reason analyzes and criticizes itself
lin the process of its world-constituting "legislating activity".
lFor Kant, Newtonian physics and Euclidian geometry con-
General Inlroduclion General Introduction xut


''1,h.r. are of course others), one wing of fin de sidcle Neo-

the given

"facticity" and "positivity" of existing sciences. Ac-

(a political-economic crisis theory). The actual methodology f

Mrxt rnature ctique thus is more deeply rooted in Hegel's

Kantianism sought to broaden the Kantian meaning of critique Phenomenology and Philosophy of Right than in the Kantian
by making history (cultural and social) the primary theme of tradition.
transcendental or critical self-reflection. From Dilthev and Given the theoretical sources of critical theory and its Marx-
r*,t ian political thrust, it is hardly surprising that its reception in the
historical reason." English-speaking world was not what it would have deserved.
To be sure, Kant left to prosterity several t ey essays on tristo.y
which examine the limits and possibilities of progress, but, as is
Still, critical theory has not been a total stranger to the English-
speaking world, at least since the late 1930s. Horkheimer and
evident frorn his theme, he was deeply swayed by the eighteenth- Adorno spent a crucial period of their lives in the U.S.,
century way of viewing these problems. The nineteenth century, relocating the Institute and the journal Zeitschrift fr
however, became an age of the highest conceivable degree of Sozialforschang, whose last volumes were published in English.
historical experience, learning, research and reflection; and any Neumann and Kirchheimer spent their last years in the U.S., and
new critical philosophy of history had to interpret the works of their reputations as great teachers influenced some American
Ranke, Taine, Michelet, Burckhardt, Droysen, etc. The political scientists. Fromm became a leading member of the
Hegelian critique of Kant-short of what the Neo-Kantians saw American Neo-Freudian school, and although he broke with the
as Hegel's speculative, "panlogical" sgss5ss-also had to be in- Institute, he has never given up the characteristic Frankfurt
tegrated. So in an age when natural science enjoyed its highest project of the Marx-Freud synthesis. Lowenthal and Marcuse,
prestige, one group of primarily Cerman (but also French and finally, continue the tradition of Frankfurt critical theory in
Italian) thinkers systematically attempted to replace nature by America into the present day, with the latter playing a key role
culture, science by history as the focus of philosophical concern, for the theoretically inclined minority of the New Left of the
an attitude also typical of the early mentors of the Institute's 1960s. Nor has the influence of critical theory on academia been
members: F{ans Cornelius, Martin Heidegger and Edmund totally negligible. During their stays in New York and Los
Husserl, as well as of the single most important Marxian in- Angeles, Adorno and Horkheimer had a conflict-ridden but
fluence on the Institute, Georg Lukcs. perhaps not fruitless relationship with American sociologists, as
demonstrated by the volume Mass Culture (with articles by
Lu Adorno and Lowenthal) that was published much later. Better
main source of critical theory was the Marxian known is the series of empirical and theoretical pro.jects on the
study of prejudice and the authoritarian personality which
brought Adorno and Horkheimer into working contact with a
number of scholars (Bruno Bettelheim, Morris Janowitz et al.)
whose intellectual development, however, has since taken dif-
ferent directions. More important were contacts with men like
Hans Gerth and Benjarnin Nelson who were to convey, in spite
of their reservations, something of the content and the spirit of
Kantian idea of categorical self-reflection and the demonstration critical theory to future generations of students. In this last
of the limits of the science criticized was surely incorporated in respect the work of such collaborators of the Institute as Mar-
Marx's concept, but so was Hegel's objection that Kant assumed cuse. Neumann, Kirchheimer, Gerhard Meyer and K.A. Witt-
General Inlroduction General Introduction \v

flogel probably laid much of the groundwork for the emergence

of an American critical social science. We should certainly inter-
pret the very positive remarks of C. Wright Mills on the
Frankfurt School in this way. Finally, under the impact of the
New Left, what was submerged in the 1950s and early 1960s sur-
faced in the late 1960s and 1970s as a revival of critical theory,
though primarily on the level of the history of ideas. First-rate
books by Martin Jay, Trent Schroyer, Bruce Brown, Russell
Jacoby, Susan Buck-Morss, and William Leiss; translations of
the works of Adorno, Horkheimer and Benjamin; the success of
Marcuse's works; and the emergence of several journals (Telos,
New Germon Critique, Theory and Society, etc.) that are strong- tion between the confused and ambiguous aspects of e
ly influenced by critical theory have all created an atmosphere th i_o-_n-s-_1r*{-itg historical context. Such an account
within which the heritage of the Frankfurt School could begin to of at least thg key
be fully appropriated. What is still missing, however, is a large- faifure to have a
scale reconstruction of this heritage in accordance with the needs ct, and the reasons why a different social
of the new political and social situation. he self-contradictions which a more popular
In other words, the older, highly selective and limited, presentation of the original critical theory would have
reception of the Frankfurt School failed to lead to a deep precipitated.
understanding of its theoretical trajectory; the new reception, Though the first generation of critical theorists had literary as
which fully reconstructs the tradition only in the realm of the well as phitosophical aspirations and generally wrote (Adorno
history of ideas, has not yet opened the way to new theoretical and Benjamin especially) with great elegance, incisiveness and
departures. elaborate finesse, American resistance to the easily detected
heavy drone of the complicated underlying thought processes
endemic to German philosophy appears to have diminished ap-
To speak of "critical theory" as a systematically elaborated preciation of their profundity as well as of their intelligence, and
account of social reality is possible only at a distance from the an ingrained American habit of reading literally missed the
subject that tends to blur all significant differences existing
among the various members of the Frankfurt School. In fact,
be explained simply (and demonstrated) in terms of syntax. Qt
close examination reveals that th-ere are at best onlv critical
the same cultural tradition. Yet, discussionsof "critical theory"
ffings into "the night in which all cows Thus, the fact that critical theory has failed to receive,
are black" theoretical especially in the English-speaking world, anything close to the
cultural reception that would appear to be its due, is neither
primarily the result of conspiratorial efforts on the part of tradi-
. Such a trajectory, fully
presented by The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, begins tional theorists to ignore its emancipatory content, nor of the
with critical theory's emergence from the first generation of administrative apparatus's attempt to repress its revolutionary
Hegelian Marxists (Luks and Korsch), moves through its inter- aspirations. Rather, it is a consequence of some of the more
pretations of Stalinism, Fascism and the New Deal and its at- paradoxical features of the theory itself, first its attempt to con-
tempts to provide a theory of American society, and closes with ceal its Marxian character, and subsequently, in its American
General Introduction General Inlroduclion

phase, its effort to prevent its instrumentalization by those very

forces that the theory had sought to oppose. Here I am focusing
only on the main contributions of the lnstitute, the wo
Horkheimer, Adorno, and to a lesser extent Marcuse.
dience which it had to subsequently defuse-not just on the basisi
of intrinsic short on what ultimately were on-

Contrary to Left conventional wisdom, according to which

the quandaries of critical theory are the result of its having jet-
tisoned fundamental Marxist assumptions, the real problem was
the exact opposite: the unwarranted retention of too much tradi-
tional Marxist baggage. Initially operating inside a framework
that promised a socialist pot of gold at the end of the capitalist
I rainbow, early critical theorists-particularly Horkheimer up to
the late 193Os-could only see Fascism as the infamous last stage
of capitalism, and Stalinism, despite all of its internal short-
comings, as a transitory stage to authentic socialism. And even
I after the theoretical shifts of the early l940s,r and Adorno's of-
ficial joining of the inner group,' their analyses of American

ly thi {ileqgta (which is also that of a large

body of modern art) the key to understanding proDlematlC. AOOTnO was nO rOnger aDle tO artlCulale '-concreter
t!e=tU!l1f{qt9-ry 9-f the Frankflurt Schol from Horkheimei's social theory," as Lukcs h ratherl
takeover of the Institute's directorship in 1931, to its eventual to the totalizing act of an i arly asl
dissipation in the late 1960s. That the_A1le,fnp! to_rqfurbish a 1931, Adorno had rightly of thel
D!An theory was made in the face of the disap- proletariat's role as ct-object ofi
history rendered the .' Unwillingi
thusiastic reception of critical theory, both by an academic com- at lhat Doint to ra ilosophy ofl
munity deemed by the theory itself to be relatively irrelevant and
undergoing increasing cretinization in its phase of technocratic
rationalization, and by a broader public sphere, of whose
existence critical theory itself constituted a prolonged obituary.
In short, the theory ruled out any reception other than the one
which it actually received. To further complicate things, this This explains why Marcuse's One-Dimensional Mon and
paradoxical state of affairs tended to become ontologized in Adorno's Minimo Morolia exist as two antinomic yet com-
plementary theories of American society. Marcuse stubbornly
t!rygd - q!!ge!_tf!g, and all possible alternatives continued theorizing on the macrological level in a fashion ap-
tended increasingly to be ruled out in principle. Ultimately parently ruled out by the collapse of the Lukcsian project, a
critical theory was forced to justify itself in terms of a future collapse which had left no suitable collective epistemological
emancipation which was otherwise shown to be unrealizable. foundation immune from the pitfalls of a theory positing thc
General Introduction
General Introduction

mythological identity of subject and object. For Adorno, on tne

checked toward the even more disastrous manifestations of
other hand, social theory was possible only be escaping into Auschwitz, the Gulag and Hiroshi-a. Ttg_Jry_clcgnalylic
esthetics, where micrological analyses of the particular provide
theory of socializatio.n .and the analysis of the "totally ad-
aphoristic glimpses of that "false totality" no longer immedite-
ly apprehensible through discredited traditional conceptual v
means. Where Marcuse's macrological approach leads him to
becomes increasingly hermetic, with its analysis of one-
narrate a story which cannot have a happy ending-which ac-
dimensionality becoming the pervasive theme, except for occa-
counts for his subsequent frenzied search in the social periphery
sional detours through politically impotent esthetic maneuvers.
for potential revolutionary subjects-Adorno's micrological Thg_ubisEL disappears. society becomes all-powerful and in-
analysis succeeds in salvaging revolutionary subjectivity in social
theory as art, but at the price of destroying any possible nor- avoid homogenization, instrumentqlization,p_ir greqg p4pes,
mative political mediational function.
even annihilation.
Nevertheless, their shared reception of psychoanalysis
allows both Marcuse's and Adorno's analyses to complement Paradoxically, what this account ended up losing was
each other within an antinomic framework which, in spite of ir- precisely that nonidentity which it sought to preserve. Instead, it
resolvable dualism, still aspires to remain dialectical. ln attemy't- embalmed and reified it within an increasingly rigid and objec-
ing to rescue the Marxist philosophy of history from the tivistic reproduction of the given that has alredy been frozen by
theoretical ruins of History and Class Consciousness, the all-pervasiveness of the concept. Although his aphorisms re-
Horkhoimer's and Adorno's use of psychoanalysis successfully tain their critical edge by escaping into a poetic mode of
destroyed the dialectic and eventually resulted in Diale-cliggf discourse, when Adorno attempts to defend critical theory
gainst positivist adversaries he lets the orthodox Marxist cat out
of the bag: on the macrological level the totality remains an ab-
In ed to the o- sqlglgly irreplaceable category, the pode! o! glghange rationali-
ty, remains the basic principle of modern society and the
9[- -o-f A'qett-ce[
economic crisis theory looms on the horizon. Large chunks of
s sition fr-om gntrgpre,neUfi_al t-o adyanced capitalism
( s a new state-regulated social formation), with the traditional Miiist Aocirine resurface wholly unaffected by the
result that t ty_ 9f -t!.-!f4-{Lsti-o-!a! phaq yas aqua regia of critical theory. Legitimated by psychoanalysis,
they remain unchallenged even by the overthrow of the Marxist
all-o-get-tr9f- leU. when the crisis of one-dimensionality
philosophy of history whose rescue had originally required the
erupted, it
beame impossible to theoretically grasp the nature
of the new developments. introduction of the psychoanalytic dimension. Although
operating on different levels, Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man
ultimately spells out what Adorno's Minima Moralia merely
alludes to. Bgth approaclgs r
not even attempt to prefigure the future by elaborating the p.esslm!llic evalqation of emancipatory prospects.
mediations necessary to bring it about, and becomes purely
defensive: .it ultimately retre4ls to_. de:Lend- particqlelit-), The theoretical trajectory that is usuall understood as mature
"critical theory," fully elaborated'during the 1950s and early
1960s as the completion of analyses begun in 1940 and typified
by Diolectic of Enlightenment,brilliantly captures the Cold War
period, the plastic 1950s and in general the post-New Deal and the development of the culture industry lead to the
American society which was rapidly hegemonizing most of the
colonization of consciousness, thus systematically ruling out any
form of internal opposition, the logic of domination unfolds un- world. I!_W.q-s_uqe-ble, !ro-Weye!,,t_o lolgseg oI come to grips with
General Inlroduclion General Inlroduclion

W a t_ Hg h_e
qq ?- _i\ ,L egj4.ruq li 94 C_ r i; i.;i .
c 4l lq t li s i
n 4li t y -
o r institutionalization was only possible through authoritarian
p: qn mI c_ l:g.tyl i9_tt _le
g-[,-l_ al -"tbe -.{U LQq
m_elt Bl c ri s i s o f the means; in the U.S. the lack of a powerful opposition was a ma-
requires a-gglplete re-vsrsal jor factor in making for a peaceful and relatively smooth transi-
=9ye-rqdry-Udsf-e.I-e4g9_c_r_ely. fhig_c{siq
to prevent the tlon.
gl_t_._lgg_i-c- 91_gry-qimensionality so as very
slllg.n fIoT grinding to a halt through the reams _of Thus, t stitutional shift from entrgpq1gq-lal capttaligt
bureaucratic paperwork. q",N_9 w p eal greq4 q_qrattqlal iZa! oAq [ 9ep!4!gt_e_414!9Eb y
9.t. gyle-U.iye into iltle1;iy.e growth.'
The resulted from a
With the final collapse of any hope for the Marxist model in mass and otherness left
the 1970s, the changing function of critical theory should not over from previous social formations so as to create the condi-
come as a complete surprise. Late capitalism finds itself unable tions necessry for this restructuring of capitalism. Tayloriza-
to provide free space for the emancipatory tendencies which it tion, capital-intensive technology, the culture industry and con-
needs to guarantee its own continued world domination in a con- sumerism combined within a production system that was based
text characterized by a rapidly decaying "Communist" world on the autornobile and military expenditures, and this facilitated
and a Third World unable to successfully modernize. What,this io-n qt,$pltalist relations into all crelies l everv-
analysis entails as a precondition for a meaningful relaunching narlity as the te!dential fulfillment of the
of critical theory and a full understanding of its heritage is e_qt-which Horkheimer and Adorno un-
_ ttg!_wilbln a nervlqfiq_drzatio of twentieth-century justifiably dehistoricized and projected back onto the whole tra-
lfg ln
short, itrne4m -lgg_atiqg [!_e_ o-ne dirnensionality jectory of Western civilization from Odysseus to Hitler-
qweleness q f te t_rgLtig_n{. ph ?-: g. assumed the characteristics that Marcuse has so trenchantly glg ad , while locating lra{i- elirninated all remaining obstacles. i-
dpeisonalization asociated with
critical perspective__to deal
-4 yg! !q jReriod--i.e., the domination of the concept and of capital's

t. I
abstract instrumental reason-constitute the historical limit of
Already prefigured at the turn of the century when the crisis phase. The full triurnph of one-
ithis transitory rationalizing
of entrepreneurial capitalism seerned to have entered into its l^l r^ rL^ ^-.L^,.^+:^- ^f +L^ +l-^+

final phase, but fully institutionalized only after the 1929 crash, i q-qq.p.the glhlqs-lig!.of.t!e ryodql
-^l^l !lt[_.].
of one-dimensionality meant the ingre.asi1g, exten_sion of
Lhe age
point-of Ultimately da reversal of the logic of one-
o[q_c!-iy-e-,-c3p!-tg!_gve_ 9ye1y facel gf life-even to the ylfi-c-tr wa gr'tlv fcltitteA by the system's suc-
r g c o-q g_t tigg .g eI ? g t_e,r s t r u c t u r e a n d p er s ona li t y t o^ a-cc o r d w i t h
l t"U
t-he equiemgqlq g[ q4tlgnali-zAqo-n.
The first thirty years of this century are marked not only by
during,,i-8.l,f i#i#*,T[;H:ii:"'
meaningfully cha,[e,!ge_4.1bq sy!_eqf c44 allow harmless new
the blossoming of a variety of Marxist theories, but also by the
prefiguration of various successful and unsuccessful institutions _iqqlUUtiqlAl free space within which spontaneity and
generate much-needed control
of the coming weifare state. After pre-World War I progressive lgg_q-qlj_ty thrive, and can thus
legislation, scientific management, el{ lhq iqteg"I4tiq4 q[ e-ar-lier
mechanisms. .g.yjlsm's irnmediate response is to at-
C-qllg,Iqle such opposition. This explains the recent
tg11r1l ,gf 9p-p-gs-ition (essentially orgaized- Labor) have been phenornenon of counterbureaucratic bureaucracies that tend to
finally institutionalized during and after the New Deal, such
reproduce the very problems they are meant to solve. The con-
strictures as Prohibition and other overtly represeive projects
could be dropped. The new situation no longer required them to
tradiction remains that, for the planned society, fite
generate the new phase of capitalist rationalization. As a matter
of fact, they stood in its way. In certain European states, such cgMlqe bureaucratically plotted out. At best, it can only bc
xxil Generol Inlroduction General lntroduction

encouraged by creating fiee institutional space within which to

develop. l.For a detailed discussion of this issue, see Andrew drato's "Introduction" to
While it is not at all clear whether the growing institutional Part l, as well as the essays included there.
liberalization will succeed in providing the needed negativity, 2. Cf. Martin'Jay, The Diolecticol Imoginolion (Boston, 1973), pp. 65ff.
this new social tendency paves the way for a development and 3. Georg Luks, History ond Class Consciousness, trans. Rodney Livingstone
reception of critical theory that has hitherto been unimaginable. (Cambridge, Mass., l97l), p. 10.
Potential assimilation by the administrative apparatus is no 4. Cf, Benjamin Snow, "Introduction to Adorno's 'The Actuality of
Philosophy'," Telos,XXXI (Spring 1977), pp. ll3-119.
longer a major danger when the other side of integration is
precisely freedom to formulate even emancipatory projects, and 5. For a systematic critique of the Frankfurt School's reception of
psychoanalysis, see Jessica Benjamin, "The End of Internalization: Adorno's
when the latent revolutionary otherness within which the first Social Psychology," in Telos XXXII (Summer 1977), pp. 4246.
generation of critical theorists operated has turned out to be a 6. Jrgen Habermas, Legitimalion Cris trans. Thomas McCarthy (Boston,
mythical leftover of a never fully transcended Marxist heritage. l97s), pp.6l-68.
7. Cf. Mihaly Vajda, "Crisis and the Way Out: The Rise of Fascism in ltaly and
Cermany," l Telos, XXI (Summer 1972), pp. 3-26, and Habermas, Legitima-
tion Crisb op. cit., pp. U.ff. and pp. 33ff.

theory's own trajectory from its inception becomes a precondi-

tion for any future renewal. In this respect, The Essential
Fronkfurt School Reoder should greatly aid in setting the
historical record straight on any number of as yet incompletely
investigated topics. The selected texts present critical theory at a
relatively open and not yet fully esoteric stage where a
of history has not yet swallowed social

areas of political and cultural theory, depends on our active

assimilation of precisely this stage of the theory, which yields the
first approximations toward a new critical soci
We might say
that the texts-in their uneasy unity-constitute a pro-
legomenon to any future critical theory of society.
Paul Piccone, 1978
Political Sociology and Critique of

Critical Mardsm and the Frankfurt School

In introducing the political theory of the Frankfurt School we are

from Horkheimer, Marcuse and Pollock to Kirchheimer and Neumann

uring the American period of the Zeitschrift fr Sozial-
forschung. ns, though frequently over-
lapping orcontiguous al
. Our aim in focusing on this period of
the Frankfurt School is twofold: (l) we want to depict the political
origin and formative context of what is called critical theory today (as
against the 1930s when it was a code-name for Marxism in general),
and (2) we want to present the theory that emerged from the critical
evaluation and analysis of this context. We do believe that despite the
considerable variety of viewpoints something like a unifiable theory
(or theoretical spectrum) did emerge from the efforts of Kirchheimer,
Neumann, Pollock and Horkheimer
q_f pslitrcal ssc1g[ogy thp than

. This political sociology (specifically of state or-

ganized industrial social formations) was to provide part of. the
groundwork for the later (and better known) social philosophy of
Horkheimer, Adorno and Marcuse, the missing complement to Ador-
Poliicol Sociology and Critique of Politics Introduction

no's cultural criticism, and the anticipation of the much later critique pa4fs. an eve herS no f g. The Hungarian Georg Lukcs was
of politics in the works of Jrgen Habermas and Claus Offe. eventually (after 1930) forced to completely renounce his fundamen-
of the whole "criticalMarxist" or "WestemMarx- tal 1923 work, History and Class Consciousness.3 The German Karl
ist" or "Hegelian Maxist" enteprise was t .KpCch was booted out of the German Communist party for his
defense of his 1923 work Marxism and Philosophy,n and the ltalian
9?)_g th9 ucges of the Russian Revollltion
(1917). The determinist, evolutionist, economistic social theory of qtoniq Gfaqlsgi was "protected" from the Communist Intemational
classical Social Democracy, the first political heir of Marx and En- only by Mussolini's prison where he wrote the so-called Prison
gels, was discredited by the generally conservative and even national- Notebooks.s As different as these theorists were intellectually and
ist behavior of most Social Democratic parties and unions during politically, SJ-lg-e{_!.y^o-._ipp_o-.t1!! :t lg9g.qi_!tsy__hg -_Lg"n
World War I. The Bolsheviks, whe-along with other groups-split ieISStUaLly-f .oqq_d9u1sr,{9_![e_!yI3U9!g$_ltlo!,primarilyincon-
off from the Second International during these events, erefore re- texts dominated by the revival q!.:G_-e-ffrgg-Eg-4Sm, and ,L.yete
mained unsullied by the compromise and surrender of Social Democ- dSg!ty9ly-_s"bep_p{ _uy,.!1,_g .Oc1obe1 Rev,olutlo_n ag$_ py_1h,e_varlors
racy. But they inherited the mantle of revolutionary orthodoxy not c9"Ull9jl.9,Ip9li1n9l_rll in whigh all !!rye had played glygtgl_pgl,tical
because of their purity, or even because of their superior theoretical rolEs. The new intellectual cast of mind helpefl them reconceptualize
and political "line," but because of the unexpected success of radical the political experience; all three theorists drew heavily on the hitherto
revolufion in Russia. With the exception of a few strategic but not badly known background of Marxism in German Idealism to work out
highly theoretical departures the Bolsheviks did not revise the "world
view" of l9th century Marxism, and with the partial exception of ,a
Lenin's State and Revolution d pgt iqto !-q_G.ra4ggils) the centrl concepts of
qulh-ollqi_animplications of one side of lhqt world view. iti9_q4ioq_-ertd,r_r_r9diili-qu)'
yr qqli.qipg!_frrg fqr w_orse things to come,
s. This "philosophy of
i b:_mpyt4g _b-4qk toyard lhe l_E!h qerttury materialism praxis" represented t w_oq-ll l!@1q g-qll

diated.'4q3-re_U_l!_gg.opt_s!i,caqe{_t_h,e.eD{_yqs ' sgl. " In retrospect it is important to stress the lack of

aycilab-Le -lg -I 9.1, -iq-lq etiuorat ttre implications
-ot Jh9- Bgseft
s-uccess._qf th-e_ q lhSlSy9l-gf-sggiql-th9oly.
Lukcs's theory of reification suffered from his acceptance of two
Beyg.h,qqq-tgr. !b9- {r_rgle Cqyenge_d cqqr-qleq -ef-$.e, \/"qt. The Marx-
ism-Leninism that was to be forced upon all European Communist rather inconsistent doctrines: of Luxemburg's mechanical theory of
parties during a period of so-called "Bolshevization" was even less inevitable capitalist collapse and of Lenin's voluntarist theory of
relevant to Westem Europe than the writings of the few remaining organization. Korsch, plagued by an exaggerated historicist relativi-
major theorists of Social Democracy (K. Kautsky, O. Bauer, M. zation of the relationship of theory and practice, contributed little to a
.)f;iirial rupture implied by the wholperid f new social theory. @!ggi, who was the most productive of the three
$l_gt "t al.)fffi;hiirial
I th
loctoer r
Revolution, and in particul the experience of council ]
in this area, d-eleJgped_a thegrefalg,-,p1y.-egO SrS4gmization more
N(soviet) govemment in Russia, Germany, Hungary and Italy, received l

telortpIgbgldIhg n9yiqte!9glfe_4lt1t99- et4pS.C,Silities of Western

ian adequate theoretical interpretation neither among Western social I

Eggpe. The three major theorists of the first phase of the critical
Marxist enterprise did not exptlcitly g (y,Ih ttgp3::lqg_Sl-
c_eptioA of _BgssDj&l9lh__c-qttgry ltsory qt th9 mqre or less
q Marx himself
had analyzed. None of them

fte-ask of the theoretical reconstruction of Marxism was initial-

ly possible only at the periphery of some of the Western Cor4lnunist
Politicol Sociolog' and Critique ol Politics Introduclion

functional primacy to politics in the period of transition to socialisnr,

and under socialism itself.s

!.h{gc_lie .ofre vol u tionary possibilities in the West af.ter_ 1923,

tlg:fgplaneig had to restrict itself to the crisis of revolutionary
subjectivitr to ihe ''ideological crisis'' of the proletariat (L-ukc or
tlS g_u_llyf!:pgfiligql hegemony of the bourgeoisie (Gramsc-i). It is our
thesis that the second phase of critical Marxism- the critical theory of
t ts-p-r9dce9ls-o-rsppl9-

ocial thegrv-p-_olXq4l quIur9.

Hgw -d-td fte_s_e_lqqigh!-s _ep_q ls flerqb_ilily po-tp abgut? For the
early years of Frankfurt critical theory we must speak of Aproiect that,
whatever its political independence and theoretical originality, bs:-
lqgt tg1!. p-gl!ti9q!.ci9_d!?_ryn by the fitqtptr.asg 9f 9qi1!9l Nlgrx-
is!. A detailed comparison of the views of Horkheimer, the founder
of critical theory in the 1930s, withthoseof Lukcs et al. wouldbe out
of place here. But we should Bdiqqlg _q!.r-e-lp_ej_o!_p.9utf-e,f_cenl@ct.
Horkheimer from the beginning did not accept the crude scieniistic
epistemology of Social Democratic and Communist orthodoxies, but
this should not lead us to postulate an already implicit break with
Marxism. Rather the method of historical materialism was used to
examine its own genesis and presuppositions in the manner of Lukcs
and Korsch.5o The resulting originality lay in Horkheimer's greater ture do not determine the direction and the ultimate meaning of change
clarity about the transformation of capitalist society, rnore evident in c. If the erosi and of
(both of which f under
the 1930s than earlier. The emergence of Frankfurt critical theory
) in the "Proces
itself was accordingly located by Horkheimer in an epoch in which
mines the ideological integration of capitalism, this can only acceler-
collective, monopoly capital relaces individual competitive capital.u
Although this claim was already deepened by allusions t ate a verdict that the contradiction of forces and relations of production
Frankfurt School themes: the rise of the authoritarian state, the mas- has already p d if other cultural
s i f ic at i on of c u liui'dliiEFec I i ne of the ind i v i d-u af6ffi?ie r' s processes (su interfere with the
formation of verdict is merelY
verall Marxist orthodIli-as not yet in doubt. The ultimate object
and terrain of the critical enterprise remained political economy, and retarded.
r4+ orimacv of economic determination was insisted on even in con-
texts where Lukcs himself was far more flexible, e.g. in the case of
social formations where kinship systems played the major organizing
role.' /hereas Lukcs restricted the "primacy of the economic" to
the capitalist social formation, the early Horkheimer, in this sense
more orthodox, was able to follow Lukcs only when ascribing a
8 Political Sociology and Critique of Politics

proletariat, but his inability to take theoretical guidance from its

emphatic: since the earlier phase of capitalism was potentially or even
"empirical consciousness.'' Lukcs, in 1923 , was cefainly not con-
inevitably the source of the later, m
sistent on this pont but his best-known (though not theoretically the
t.r3 First of all the liberal capitalist economy led
best) position was identical to what Horkheimer (and as lve_wlll sqe
(though not smoothly and without rupture) to the economics of the
even Adorno) was to adopt, with one crucial difference.
as th repiesentative
present. Liberal capi"qf lqgkel-@d
prlygteJ-rqp9r!r-qf,a1!-o. qs-fle.9.g"gt +_tlpqlitigq!9-o-1p-i4!terad.lrom
class consciousness-although in a theoretically Leninist manner
a-b.olutsg The central institutional core of the system was the wage
does refer to the possibility of historically trggggltsc'o*qs..U9s
labor-capital relationship, for all the Frankfurt theorists translatable
into the nexus of "free labor" and the owner/manager of capital. The
9ye4pgle purpose of the systm is the accumulation of capital which, regulated
glealv Leniist, and here an attitude still sympathetic to the Soviet
by the laws of competition, involves all the economic crisis phenome-
Union must be assumed. &9&fe*!h-e-.!qegqif{9-qf..h-i9 *i& in
na that Marx had worked out in Capital. fhrygp_ile!,lI-eiP99lo
o.l,t&gl_99Iy_lq_lbg pgflg_ oJ l9}1:l9 carurol b-e minim,ized.e Ac-
cglgte.gg3qq 999lqsgn.99ll1-r-9-t1o_1j9,q1r3!r_zq!t-or-t-.qld-B[olle!iza-
qg1-qrygler) ,4all spheres cf life. These processes however imply the
technical domination of nature is always progressive; only the utiliza-
passing of liberal capitalism and not only in the economic area.
tion of its methods vis-d-vis other men is dangerous. r0 Even on this last
Most, though not all, Frankfurt theorists believed that the politi-
point Horkheimer was rather inconsistent. Just a year earlier" criticiz-
cal system most in line with liberal(laissez faire) capitalism was itself
ing anarchism he indicated that authority which increases production
liberal in form, based on parliamentary representation and Plglqcllqg.
is also progressive. In particular he mentions the hierarchical position
'o They all knew of course that tle]iDe,.r.-alstatle
of expert and manager in industry vis-d-vis labor, as well as the
$19 b_e_Lo-ppry{q.ce_ thg !re.e- 4q-y9pe.rl.-oj the
necessarily authorifarian dimension of the central plan of a new,
,of the system,'5 but they also believed that the
socialist society and, nola bene, of. the revolutionary party engi-
period of nggpgly-94p-tt-el!p makes plausible or even rgqUjle 3
qUati!g!Lvgl__g!rplg-e-I--4r-r.d- !0o-Le-_99!iYe state, one that can directly
_h,!qd_-c,41_g_ogrsqs," and if the Soviet Union is not
specifically mentioned we can chalk this fact up to Horkheimer's
caution in French and later American exile.'2 O n
!40 (the trials, the pact, the apparent convergence of many
though surely not all Nazi and Soviet institutions and practices, and
the dangers of the World War) -s

t. Part I will focus on the political-theoretical position the

members of the Frankfurt School agreed that any attempt at return to
sible, t
liberalism is political bankruptcy. Nevertheless, and this has been the
I ando t
l:- source of many a confusion, pqbCrs-p-f-.tbe gitc-Ig -c-qqq-en-
t t st societY that theJ took to be
!!4! q{e-t"
!E. sakp o_[ a lileae{ fulure.
From a general sociophilosophical point of view, Max Hork-
heimer's " :(!249), thefirstarticlereproducedbelow,
s lf-
ilq_at gdtyldlality
. But on one point they were
t-e-nzed pre-bourgeoi The new individuality, be-

cause defined by self-preservation, was victimized by a development

that integrated individuals into more and more complex, mechanical,
t0 Polilical Sociolog' and Critiqua ol Polirics Introduction I I

reified networks of relations-leaving finally no self to be preserved. critical theorists from the "End of Reason" to Marcuse's One-Dimen-
But as long as market rationality and parliaments were not replaced by sional Msn (1963) were to claim, the reality that replaced liberal
the manipulation of monopolistic competition and the terror of au-
thoritarian states, the remnants of new individUa-lity of the libqral era
tique of polilical economy , was ' 'one-dimensional. ' ' &_new cltlq4l
tgry_qlspgygr-e{ ilsglf i! I ltiqlgqe4 S-q-n"!gxt whq19 1tr-e -d_es-r-iLa!oq of
rygn e5lrng.n_q!9,(I -gy rqankfrt -t_lpryg) gy.l.l-r"tg was
i@1 UdU a!_!y late_-cepl!41 iqr I 4I!e to thr,e4!en, parame -
or or even old bou rgeoil
-idedS Qtl_ gqry_Fy
ist social theory has either neglected or dealt with in a
.lgS-bgjqel-gtticiglgy.'' If the other side of the commodity or money
on. The reduction was not unlike the fetish was the birth of the individual, the other side of the latter's
in authoritarian states, one of which decline was the "technological veil." !re_1o141, central plan which
corrld lesitimate itself bv a suitable version of Marxist theory' Hork- 1ep_rsgqnted-a lew si?99 o[ !eedqq,1qorlhg{ox Mqili-sry.el:yen il
_clili_c_ql !!gly_o{ thg l!3-0s, was lo}v p_rer-e.nJe Qy ltqtlsi,Sjlqg-eglhe
tool o-f a-ujh.o{ilgli?n p-qt{rS-q,.9.._t_\g_ly_:&4h. " Man's control over
[Il9 IaSl Llauss ul suust4rrtr4r Irrurvuu4rr-i nature, another classical Marxian desideratum originally uncontested
ano one oI Ine rasl (lelenses (.)r

ty. Not that he did not realize its many repressive and integrative{ by critical theory, was according to the Horkheimer of I 940 necessari-
functions. But he also saw another side. The relationships of motherl ly the stuff of the new ideology. e

, and child and the sexual relationship, before they are functionalized,
I are the refuge of sensitivity in a society dominated by economici

reason, the last intersubjective sources of personal substance in a

None of this goes far beyond the 1936'etsay "Authority ild he

Earnlly" which we have subsumed under the first phase of the critical
implied an immanent critique of politics that attempted the critical
Marxist project. The claim that bourgeois individuality is definable
sociol-psychologically in terms of a family and juridically in terms of
analysis of the new fetish of technological rationality, hoping td
property relations was simply adopted from the earlier work. Never- isQ s of ltle qociely!gr1,was fetishist

The bulk of the essays reproduced in this chapter represent the

kind of political sociology that the new departure in critical theory
presupposed. Otto Kirchheimer's essay, for example, contrasts favor-
ably the liberal (ideal) form of parliamentary compromise based on
individual voices themselves kept in check by the institutions of public
opinion with mass democratic political compromise based on plural-
istic pressure groups in which the member individual tends to lose the
liberal capitalism could confront ideal with reality (within the reality
right of legal and political recourse. Here was at least some of the
and political content of the speculative theis of the "end of the individu-
under analysis) -1i-th:!il-lvjduql-
ul. " According to Kirchheimer (in a link typical for Frankfurt theory),
pluralist compromise foreshadowed fascist compromise based on
strictly enforced deals among groups wholly authoritarian toward
their involuntary membership.'e
If Kirchheimer defended liberal compromise against both forms
Political Sociolog' and Critique of Polirics
Introduction ti
control) were noted. The German "authoritarian state" was seen as
of pluralism (democratic and fascist), Franz Neumann was to do the perhaps the most plausible political form qf lqgq_pg_ly -capitalism.2,
same in the area of public law. In this context the two theorists were Franz Neumann held this position as late as 1942 in his book B-
very close toge ' hemoth in a debare (with Pollock) the possibilily ol a qw
the position of 'social f in which the state replaces collective capital, i.e.
characterized t stafe-plannd-litalism or "state capitalism," of which National
Socialist Germany represented only one variant. But by this time
Neumann. arsuins on the
CUebsL!Iqry9y-gr--1h,"-y.eq-gqql449e--aB-'-lln-!sroj-lndividual theory, did not represent the
i"-"aorn ura au quu-sqqqqq zed, substantive
that in 1939, in "Die Juen
moment pproachd ttre ort_[oq_iy.qf]h! nmitrov thesis identified
with the Communist Internationai of tt Dprir frotpiloO: Market
capitalism has collapsed; state reform of the old social-economic
structure is an illusion. Fascism is fflog!9atly_ll__t_tp I,CC!. lACe qf
cies of monopoly capitalism from producing similar results' capitalist development
If the major theorists of the FranKurt School, Horkheimer,
Marcuse and Adorno, were rarely so laudatory as Neumann and :. on. But as Horkheimer well knew, no
Kirchheimer about the achievements of liberalism in the sphere of society can be integrated only by open force alone, andby the "End of
Reason" (1940) the last stress was partially replaced by one on the

ve_db sh. And in the somewhat

er-e-r-tl-vadas!l,s-9-f lheaulbqrila-laLsJSrte,of whichGerrnanf ascism
was not even the most streamlined and rationalized. The break with
the official Marxisms of the time could not have been more complete.
Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda" ard this essay along Between 1940 and 1941 several Frankfurttheorists investigated
with Horkheimer's "Authoritarian State" (both reproduced below) the characteristics of the new social formation which some of them
give clear indications of lql-
ep.9{-Le-r-Itr.aj.-co,-te-x-o-f ]r,Iq"st.-q
y. It is fair to say that
allv account
gne another, in

The Authoritarian State: Old or New Order?

fno.,+-Spgf-aapitatrg, still dominated

by the "law of value" even
ihough certain structural changes (shift from ownership to managerial
Political Socology and Critique oJ Politics Iutroduction

soon abandoning part of his position.24 Here we are especially interest- freedom of contracts; nationalizin
ed in the answer which the main line of critical theory in the 1940s itarlv sBFoinrg pr"i*;iffiaigrowrh as rhe key
(Horkheimer and Pollock) gave to the question about the very possi,
ec"."*" ;.1[-
rion; and guaranteeing the survival f the private,
monopolistic sector
bility of new post-capitalist and yet antagonistic social formations. through fiscal policy, government orders and direct
susidies.2e pol_
The position of the 1940s indicating that new "statist" social forma- lock was no! yespeaking of t
tions have already emerged (at least tendentially) in three different The changes repreGntea Uy
forms was attained only gradually. We have already reviewed the economic adaptation to the old social_economic
relations of produc_
social-philosophical summary of the shift in Horkheimer's work. Its
political-economic meaning, in many respects even more dramatic, is
best visible in the theoretical development of Friedrich Pollock. As
early as two Zeitschn/rafticlesof 1932and 1933, "DieGegenwrtige
surviving bits of orthodox Marx_
Lage des Kapitalismus und die Aussichten einer planwirtschaftlichen
Neuordnung" and "Bemerkungen zur Wirtschaftskrise,"zs Pollock
rejected all attempts to assimilate the current economic crisis ("the
Great Depression") to previous crises of the capitalist economy.
According to him, new structural elements within capitalist develop- consider the authoritarian framework essential for
this last solution.3o
ment-increasing centralization and monopolization, state interven- Again departing from his position of a year earlier,
he now argued that
tion (as yet planned and arbitrary) and vast increases in the use of capitalist planning would be suppofed by the leadershii
industrial technology-have definitely damaged the self-regulation of
of t"y
monopolies and the state bureaucracy, but only
initially by te middle
the capitalist market system. While this diagnosis indeed led Pollock classes. This rerative weakness of social base
required in polrock,s
to argue for the end of liberal capitalism based on the "automatic," cyes the authoritarian stafe. Thus
"self-regulating" market, the ascendancy of individual enterprise,
and parliamentary government,26 he had no doubt that the short-run
replacement would be only a renewed capitalism: merely a new
constellation on the ground of the existing system of social relations, rnd the first version of critical thory.
i e. monopoly capital ism. Pollock never considered this solution to be
The orthodoxy of the critical theory of the I 930s
was not based
a stable one. That his views were appropriately in flux is shown by a .n a de-emphasis of the ,.superstructural,,
spheres of politics and
comparison of the two articles in question. On the basis of the culture which would have been highly irresponsible in
the circum_
capitali in the-Soviet Union sfances of Nazi Germany. There were good
historical reasons
(which tii.Hu,rt-r,i-tt unlil 1936 ermany fundjr{ren_tally
at least

economic {fgrt.K"Tg-') of indus- Tnogh-trlo ;il6;iution oruurxisr -c.apigafist..

trial socie sing Lukacs-s stress on the
subjective factor---<onsiders this result necessary in the purely
economic sense.27 A prolonged period of economic stagnation, for
example, is repeatedly considered as a possibility. This was the
meaning for Pollock of monopoly capitalism without planning. In 9m emBrging in 1933, unlike the
1932 Pollock offered only the long-term alternatives of capitalist TLndec:iitri-artp-ft hsr,.HY;':Ijj',il***t*1":::;
planning in the existing social context and revolutionary socialist National Socialist Germany with a, its horrors
differed totally from However in 1933 he outlined a third objective possibility. that of the classical capitalist system, the intemal
economic jynu--
He now indicated a version of monopoly capitalism regulated or ic'---crucial for the Marxist-remained the same. polock
was crtain-
controlled by the state in a new sense altogether: abolishing the ly not stupidly optimistic about this state of affairs in fhe
manner of

Political Sociology and Critique oJ Politks Introduction 17

Comintern orthodoxy. In his eyes one crucial politically dynamic emergence and the possible future of "authoritarian states" in terms
aspect of liberal capitalism was now missing, not just in Germany but colored by an smre. As a result their
in other capitalist societies: the "subjective factor," the potential theory can be stion 3 aboverelating
agent of transformation, e revolutionary proletariat. The 1933 essay to the genesis
is perhaps the first to ground this basic belief, or rather fea, of critical
theory; among the causes for the decline of the revolutionary pro The Emergence of Nazi Germany and Soet Russia
letariat tgn oJ 9eEtsl[1d_, e$rcrued working as Authoritarian States
pq=tu as we'II aV
d-ptouction 33
methods In this respect
too, the ve for critical
In the essays of the 1940s reproduced below Pollock and Hork-
heimer clearly built their analysis of the authoritarian state on the
economic theory developed by the forrner in the I 930s. Yet they broke
with this theory in one fundarnental respect rich in new implications:
S-gleteS-the!qy993_t_qy9_i!_e.4) thc_ fine_l,qnqis_gt_qp_iteliqg_y.qre

Soviet Union as a "transitional society" (to socialism, that is) was

rejected, no comparison with "antagonistic societies" seemed pos-
sible either theoretically or politically. The Frankfut theory of the
1930s, despite Pollock's affinity to an economic theory that dealt with
,altemative possibilities and not necessities, was still wedded to the

tute, Erich Fromm. But from his unpublished researches of

the r940s
to the essay reproduced below and the more famous ..Elements of
Anti-sniitism" in Dialectic of Entightenment, it was Adorno who
) the
appropriated the result of ' forthe major
tendency within critical genesis of the
mass psychology of fascismh e projection of.
18 Political Sociology and Critque of Politics Introduction lt)

anticapitalism q no,!,_q4]gqrg.9s to capital (i.e. the obsolete the period of its distant admiration for the Soviet Union, the 1930s. In
commercial capitalisrn associated with the Jews) and the fact until Marcuse's much later (1957) Soviet Marxisn no Frankfiit-
type anlysis of the Soviet Union was
thoritaian State," which we have alr
nythological co ty. Fascism for Adorno r.e&ases the-$b*L9e,iYi- cal watershed in the politics of critical theory precisely in relation to
the Soviet Union, was only a partial exception iu this contexJ. The
. The manipulation of fascist agitators, e-ffe-c_1g gn-ly essay certainly reveals the deep effect on criligql theory_ qt Soylg!
developments and of the parillel sg!!!cq1!o! qffhe working-class
. " The last phrase is used by movement in the West./'ut its theoretical claims about Bolshevism
Adorno also in relationship to the mass culture of late capitalist were rather well known, though not for that reason false. Horkheim-
cultural industries. lt^res--bi,s- belief that !he- sg,c!9-p.qyc_hological er's analysis of the continuity between bureaucratic working-class
m-anipulatio-n of fascism that is based on the utilization of tltqlgglion- organization and "integral statism" onlyiepeated argumenti often
al, is anti-cipaqqd and p{gp-3r".qd 'b: thq mass-cultural re,{uction_pf the drawn from Max Webdi. On tihe other hand the assumption of Hor-
/ last traces kheimer's imnianent critique (repeated by Marcuse in 1957) that the
_et gAg._igi! .Thus, socio-psychologically at least, Ador-
I no was able to present fascism as a general problem of late bourgeois admittedly most consistent form of the authoritarian state was because
society. ttg.g_]ry_th"_{og! gf his tendency to present the world of.the of its working-Class ideology the most open to liberating, cataclysmic
social change (based on a new council movement) derived from an z
w ithout hqpe.
, eul!-u-re Ld]]-s!r-y. 4s. -completely
It is in this context especially that the emergence of the Soviet inadequate analyis of Soviet conditions ard of the nature of Soviet
form of the authoritarian state could never be assimilated to the Marxism as a pseudoscience of legitimation. Much more convincing
analysis of merely one type of social formation, the "authoritaian was Franz Neumann's suspicion in 195 l-rejected by Marcuse in
state" or "state capitalism". The first Frankfurt theorist to consider 1957-that the failure of "permanent revolution'' in its international
the transition to a fully authoritarian state in the Soviet Union was Otto context and the failure of democratic revolution intemally not only led
Kirchheimer. In 1933, several years before his association with the to the totalitarian politics of the Five-Year Plns l converted the
Institute, Kirchheimer investigated the consequences of both the ex- holders 6f political power into a new class'Thus a r'preparatory
cess of utopianism and the excess of party-oriented realpolitik for the dictatorship" became a permanent one.36 Unfortunately because of a 7)
, popular democratic soviets, or councils. Revising an earliertt" and
( more favorable assessment of Soviet politics, the essay "Marxism, l , the older critical theory could never contribute much
\ Dictatorship, and the Organization of the Proletariat" criticized both to the analysis of the limits of this permanence.
the "primitive democratic dreams" of Lenin's State and Revolution Without the same sharpness of. political vision as Neumann and
and the authoritarian tendencies of Bolshevik organization. The latter Kirchhiiner, Horkheimer was neveitheless remarkable for dducing-
in particular, according to Kirchheimer, led to an identification of
party with bureaucratic state administration, destroying through the
acceptance of bureaucratic forms both intraparty democracy and the i understood that the reading_of Marx'g,critique of political economy as
earlier dynamic links to the underlying population. For a centralized
lt positive theory f development_from market to planned economy-
and centralizing party in control of the bureaucratic state, however, anticipaies the collapse of liberal capitalism, 6ut of the "new society'' )
the loss of contact with their mass base could only mean terror. Here only its authbritaria form. ffis ws the political side of the f,amos
was a creative (though only implicit) application of the Marxian Frankfurt redefinition of Marxism as the critique of ideology.
analysis of Jacobinism to the Soviet Union, more convincing than nrorc, to be mor piecise, even the negative critique of the capitalist
-Trotsky's uncertain juggling with the slogans of "Thermidor" and rrarket-oriented "anarchy of production" could easily imply the
,' "Bonapartism." The main line of critical theory represented by lcgitimation of the "abstract negation" of the authoritarian ce_trql
Hokheirner, did not, as we have said, pick up on these key themes in rlan.,This was the political meaning of another famous Frankfurt
Political Sociology and Critique ol Politics
Itr0ducton 1I

i Herbert 941, in "Social Implications of Modern Tech- .,,

nology" Eil*), seems to share the hope of pollock ard

Neumann, the
wofking-class movement necessarily led to the authoritalian state.
.q y, which in his later
Instead he seemed fo believe that neither, in their classical form, were writings unmasks many totalitarian features of contemporary formal
sufficiently protected against deformations that anticipated the new democracies that increasingly replace liberal ideology and the demand
system of domination' And as !e sary pr.ic-4-l thgo-ty-!-o-b-9"!htlb99Ct- for a genuine public opinion b I
jcal ggggW, in 1940 (no matter how briefly) he saw council ellicreqcy. In Marcuse's latei work rhe stabiliry of state capitalist
communism as the analogous political corrective. The two found each systems is all the more fateful and impentrabl hen the technologi-
other in that brief moment when the main theorists of the Frankfurt cal vil (rather than liberal iAeotogy oi iilreodominarion) becomes rhe
principle of social integration. In other words when Marcuse came to
abandon all hope in democratic reform he was to draw (against all his
incliii) donclsis irhplyin t-mubh stiuctuial stability for
latecapitalism.TItamwamoaelSiief iETqs7n-drilf "
the Soviet Union, where he was able to juxtapose stteaiiilined,
i later neocapitalist social formations. Uureaurtic, self-reproducing domination with onty ttre supposedly
I iberalin tdriciei of ihe cntrai :il nd whatever still survives of
The Emergence, Structure and Dynamics of Neocapitalism Marxist ideology.,7,
The specific historical matrix for the-emerg alism (to
It will easily be seen that in the absence of a single posture and
use a neutral term for the democratic or man of "state
definition, the genesis of a version of'siaie Capitalism repiesented by
the New Deal was also conCeed diffrntly (s t'ciriiouti-'
"-aniputat1"1. Those theorists who concentrated on the
manipulated, closed, authoritarian features of the system (Horkheim-
cr, Adorno, Kirchheimer and the later Marcuse) focused on the
objectively necessary response of capitalism to crisis and the conquest
of the subjective factor by the political organizations of pluralist mass
no meafrs harmonious. Here one can no longer speak of theoretical democracy and by the culture industry (in a manner analogous to the
fascist "psychoanalysis in reverse"). The theorists who insisted on
the juridical-legal protection of civil rights and the survival of some
rcsidues of popular political participation under late capitalism
and Pollock) pstutatd a w DeItyp of system ihd
achievemnt f the tlemocitic foice (uions, rbformiii partis etc.)
hattlinist th othei histfil altriil,-f-aiam.Tirurpiis--
inglylh cerning rhe
structure new social
l ormation. The theory postulating
lcd to (or perhaps already pres
thcory of
Political Sociology and Critique of Politcs lntt tult'tion 23

that leads to the global subject of praxis, the revolutionary working

class witlout transforming the locus of critique to cubure as well as
politics, Pollock could in principle not discover any systematic possi-
bility of a conscious challenge to state capitalist integration. Hence the -.
to the objection (e.g. Neumann's) that the elements of its basic model rlrost abstract of all possible answers: a moral appeal by the isolated
were put together f rom Pollock )lsqdie 9.1 I 920s )-on.S..ov!et plaqning, thcorist. / )
m his pariiculi undertanding of the
his knowledge of the Nalioryl Social-
of courie rows atihetteme'iits of
tn-lmtation point to diffe and the conver- )
gence otttr>chndri-\ritu capitalist sqcial Classical plitial ecoriomy was not'only an expression of the integra-
formations is true only in care s./ Nevertheless tion of liberal capitalism through the self-regulating marker; it was
Pollock's essay, as well asHorkheimer's essays of 1940, are based on also a key i9qglqg_V != y through the appear- )
a powerful insight that validates the effort from the start: the change in
function of political economy, the end of the primacy of the economic o
under industrially advanced contemporary social formations and the p
ne U9_ql-qcolro1y-e_!hJ{.g4gygl.
critique of political economy could be therefore both an immanenf
ul In "State Capitalism" and even critique of-th democitic nrmb of ivii society i the contexr of-rheii
trourgis eformii1, a, qge of the socially
n eces sry il lu sions
"f th9 rt!!g_bj !!!y_qryt, ee_9i.i!iUlS_of market- in re-
grated capitalisl onmy. In ili-fomi oi " immanent critique" rhe
critique of political economy addresses the potn1ial Consciousness of
the ideological inlegration (he!e Marcuse's earlier and Adomo's-late the subjective agents that could transform capitalist society; in the
essays were more subtle) and political domination of individuals. He lorm of defetishization the same critique unfolds the framework of
also did not forgef the questin aboui-the futur--iien-i i-aiics of lhose economic crises that makes this transformation objectively
the system. Although Pollock boldly declared an possible. However, the
economic crisis tendenies to be dead, ne l ni tate link between the twof
Capitalism," ngtulatd a stable sociy. His most impofant point in
this context ( others are also worth the attention of the reader) was
the postulate (presumably derived from Soviet experience) of the
political struggle among different elite groups and indirectly the
underlying population over the disposition and priorities of the un- rcrfect competition") on the The latter must now
(' democratic cenfral plan. moving toward a prr-
]lt po[tical crisis theory of by suchtheorists nce the
( as Serge Mallet, Claus
It is easily documentable fhat one year later when Pollock wrote
"Is National Socialism a New Order?" the dynamic asPects of his
incipient crisis theory were replaced by a mere appeal to democratic
. forces to establish (or to proteci) the right kind of it capitalism.,A
' critical monograph on his work could pioUiUty-tro t'lat having
abandoned the classical Marxian dialectic of labor and consciousness
Introduction 25
Political Sociology and Critique of Polirics

tic outcome of Pollock's critique of politics.

We must immediately ask whether those of Pollock's colleagues

that of inevitable manipulation and control operating on the total

social level and in the personality stncture of individuals. The reason
for their profound pessimism is however just the opposite of Pol-
lock,s: Hidden orthodoxy instead of of cultural analysis;
\ .-'the 'absence
i" ' i ._"
-" start
insread oltintin!
instead of linking cultural theory
therv to
to state
blinr:sr siil-foilatins ihzrt- 3:.\'
work, thpy pr9c99d9{ Diate.cttc ol Enughten-,
i1tt-imryrtTt 9oo.k
ment-iidritreiiiafim)iof boththef ascistexperienceand
e disastrous fate of the Russian Revolution-to afichor the critigue

tic outcome. when, however, key concepts like reification, the fetish
'of technology, the petrifaction of language and the mythological
lconsequehces of the
Itended so as to cover all of h
humanization of man the anim
be available in either Past' Pres
precise the locus of liberation then would be necessarily narrowed to
the staunchest, most self-reflective and self-critical forms of criticism
in autonomos art and critical philosophy.
In the context of the genesis of Frankfurt cultural critique this
'l:,, of Politics

tural indi-
!e features
:e, " These
{ppetite is
ned. The Notes
r ariety of
ch society
: appetlte,
rich is im-
rr. Ei,ery
niful. and
g bondage Political Sociology and Critique of Politics
p appetlte l. On Lenin's place in the philosophical spcctrum of the Sccond International rl1. A.
m from an Arato, "Between Antinonry and l\{yth: Mrxism and Phiiosoph Reconsidcred'in
Hobsbawm, Haupr et al. eds., A Histor ol Sotialist Tltought (Einaudi Ediore,
conserva- forthcoming in 1978).

2. Cf Oscar Negt, "Marxismus als Legitimarionswissenschaft" in Bukharin, Debo-

rin et al Die Kotttr<Lerse liber ntetlrunist'ltttt untl tlitlaktisthctt tlv'lotriulisntus
(Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1969)

3. Trans. by R. Livingstone (Cambridge: MIT Press, l97l)

4. Trans. by F. Halliday (London: New Lcft Books, 1970)

5. Trans. by Q Hoare and G N. Smith (New York: International Publishcrs. 197 l)

OnLukcslid thespecial issuesof l"c/,s(St.Louis,Winterl9TlandSpringl9T2)

X and XI

On Cramsci lld C. Boggs, Cruntsti's Mur.rislt (Londrn: Pluto Prcss, 19761: Nl.
Vajda'sreviewof PrisonNotbotkstoTclts(St Louis,Springl9T3)XV;andspeciul
issue of Tlrs (St. Louis, Spring 1977) XXXI.

On Korsch lid the special issue of l'lls (Sl Louis, Wintcr 1975) XXVI.

Also cf. lhe rclerant articles in K. Klure und D. Houard cds, I/l L'nknovn
Dnansion (New York: Basic Books, l97l).

5a. For a presentation of the lasr two concepts, reification and mediation, see our
introduction to the next part "Eslheic Theorl und Cultural Criticisnl "
5b. On this problem cf our introducrion ro the lasr part of the anthology "A Critique ot
Methodologl .' '

6. Horkheimer, "Traditional und Criticul Theory" ( 1937) in CritituL Thcor (New

York: Seabur, 1974.

7. Cf. Horkheimer, "Authority and rhe Family" (t936) in CriritaL Thcor and

t64 Political Sociolog' ond Cririque of Politics
Notes t65

Lukcs, "The Changing Function of Historical Materialism" in Histor' and Class

Cottsciousness. 20. ln particular in he 1937 Zeitschrilt article "The Change of the Function of Law in
Modem Society" now in Democratic and Authorilarion Stote.
8. Horkheimer, "Postscript" (1937) in Critical Theor.
21. The Frankfurt analysis of the crisis of modern culture and the culture industry will
9. On the philosophical (not the political) aspects of this shift cf. the essay by Michael be key topics of Part II, below.
Theunissen, "Gesellschaf t und Ceschichte. Zur Kritik der Kritischen Theorie" (Berlin:
de Cruyter, 1969). 22. Cf.. e.g. Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Theory, " Marcuse, '.The Struggle
against Liberalism" and Pollock, "Bemerkungen zur Wirtschaftskrise" ( 1933), now in
10. Cf. "Traditional and Critical Theory." Stadien des Kapitalismus (Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1975).

ll. Cf. "Authority and the Family." 23. For a summary of the
restricts the implications to
12. In I 934 his evaluation of Soviet development seemed to be positive indeed. cf. G revisionism. He does nol se
.'Poliical Economy and Critical Theory, " Telos (St. Louis, Summer l975 lnterpretation of Nazism. "
o Marramao,
xxlv. position, also nts in his desire to measure the main line of\
critical theory of political economy represented by some ,l

13. Onthiscf.Horkheimer,"DieJudenundEuropa"(1939)nowinKritischeTheorie Institute mem -/

III (Frankfurt: Raubdruck; n.d.) and Marcuse, "The Struggle against Liberalism in the
Totalitarian View of the State" (1934) now in Negations (Boston: Beacon Press, 24. This is true, both in the body of B ehemoth, where a command economy is stressed
t969). as against the still-functioning monopolisric secror, and in his later writings. Cf.
Neumann, Behemoth revised ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1944).
14. Franz Neumann was the big exception. Cf . his Dcmocratic qnd Authoritarian
Sfae (New York: Free Press, 1957). 25. Now in Stadien des Kapiralismus.

26. Thelastwasstressedonlyinthesecondarticleclearlyreflectingtheeventsof 1933.

15. Cf. Marcuse, "The Struggle against Liberalism."
27. Coing beyond Lukcs, Pollock, as we will see, understood the alternative character
16, Either the strong state is needed to rationalize the monopoly system, to carry out the of cconomic development. Even in the 1930s he freed Lukcsian Marxism from its basic
last stages of monopolization (Neumann's Behemoth), or it is needed to steer a inconsistency, postulating the free self-determination of the subjective factor in the
monopoly system itself much more anarchic thari even liberal capitalism. (Pollock, context of economic necessity.

28. And yet both were in Pollock's description very unlikely, the first because the
cnlcrgence of the state as total capifal would reduce the existing ruling class to a
Iristorically unprecedented rentier status, and the second because of the low level of
cluss consciousness among the proletariat.

2$. Stadicn des Kapitalismu.s pp. 64-65 ff.

17. On the cultural-historical foundations and implications of this thesis cf. our in-
troduction to Pat.ll below. .10. For the key differences between the German and US solution of the crisis see
Iurwover M. Vajda, "The Rise of Fascism in ltaly and Cermany," Ielos (St. Louis,
18. The new context had important methodological implications; it necessitated a Strnmer 1972) Xll.
transformation in the very meaning of critique. On this cf. introduction Part ll.
Jl, Cf.R.Koselleck, KritikundKrise (Frankfurt/M:Suhrkamp, 1973)andJ.Haber-
19. Aside from the importanr complementarily between Frankfurt social philosophy rrrns, Theor'and Pracice (Boston: Beacon Press; 1973).
and Kirchheimer's political analysis we should also notice a crucial difference. Kirch-
heimer was too careful an analyst to present (as did Horkheimer in 1939) the fascist state .12. PollockcouldnothaveconsideredrheSovietUnionofrhelg30sasalreadysocialist
as the most consisten (and especially logically necessary) expression of monopol tnec his own 1933 concept of
copitalism, nor did he collapse the pluralist state and the fascist state (as did Pollock in his own model of any
rt r iely involved a highly centralized economy, the homogenization of needs, ..scientjf-
the I 940s) as two forms of the identical new' order, the auhoritarian state. ln the debate
on the nature of National Socialism he avoided the imPlicit determinism of the more
orthodox Marxist position and the convergence and totalitarianism theses of the "re- t This position (neither stressed nor abandoned by Pollock in his I
visionists." Cf. M. Jay, The DialecticaL Imagination (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973) wus shured by Horkheimer in the 1930s bur was obviously rejected in the
chapter 5, for furher details.
ll, Studirn dcs Kapitalismus pp. 60-61; p.68.
166 Politicol Sociology and Cririque of Politics Nolcs t67

social formation was raised at exactly the same time, 2. Cf OrigenagoinstCelsus.Book4,ch.2-5(TheAntiniceneFarhers.ed Robertand
o the same political problcm, by three breahaways fronr l)onaldson, New York 1890, Vol IV, p -507).
zzi, Schachtman and Burnham and by Pollock and
amd (iv). 3. Cf. Aristotle, Politics,I 1260a 18.

(i) Bruno Rizzi, La Bureaucratisation clu Monde (Paris, 1939). 4. Kant, Idee :u einer ollgemeinen Oeschichte in telrbiirgerliclrcr Absicht, Ninth
|)r oposition.
(ii) James Burnham, Thc Manageriol Revolution (New York, t94l).
5. CottlobErnstSchulze, AenesidemusotleriiberdicFundameiltcderrond?nHerrn
(i) Max Schachtman, The Bureoucratic Revolution: The Rise ol thc Stalinist Statc Professor Reinhold in reno gcliefertan Elementarphilosophie Nebst einer verteidi-
(New York, 1962). ,qtrng des skeptiiismus gegen die Anmassrng der vernunltkririk li92.ln Neudrucke
rltr Kantgesellschaft, Berlin l9l l, p. 135.
(iv) Leon Trotsky, In Defense ol Marxism (New York, 1942).
6. Essa'Concerning Human Understantling, Book tV, ch. xvii, p. l.
34. Cf. e.g. Fromm, Escapc lrom Freedom ad Adorno, Gesammelte Schrifren
(Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp, 1972, 1975) v. 8-9. Wc regret that in this pan we can 7. Cf E Zeller,SocroresandtheSocraticSchools,transl byReichel, London lg6g,
reproduce one essay only from this rich selection, rhe Adorno essay which is least l) I 25.
available to an English-speaking audience. But see also he Fromm essay in Part III of
this volume. fl. Cf LsEs.rais, edited Villey, Paris 193O, Vol II, ch. xii, p.491 ff.
35. Cf. Bruce Brcwn, Freud, Marx and thc Critique oJ Ever,day Ly'e (New York: 9. Dc Maistre, Etude sur l Souyeroinet, Oeuvres compltes, Lyon lg9l, Tome I,
Monthly Review, 1974); Russeli Jacoby, Social Amnesia (Boston: Beacon, 1975); y 367 77.
Michael Schneider, Neurosis and Civilization (New York: Seabury, 1975); Jay,
Diolectical Imagination chapter 3 On the methodological side of this issue cf . our Part ll). A. Mathiez, Contributions d l'Histoire religieuse de Io Reyolution FrctnEoise,
III below. l';rris 1907, p.32.

35a. Both essays are to be found in O. Kirchheimer, Polilics, Law ond SocialChonge ll. Lclter to D'Alembert, Feb.4, 1757, op cit., Vol. 39, p 167.
(New York: Columbia U. Press, 1969). Theearlieressay "TheSocialistandBolshevik
Theory of the State" ( I 928) applauded Lenin's discovery of the "primacy of politics" 12. l.crrer ro D'Alembert, Sept. 2, 1768, op cil., Vol. 46, p. ll2.
and also the syndicalist theory (or myth) that he saw latent in the Bolshevik stress on
councils. Even here Kirchheimer demystified the terms "soviet democracy" and I.l. []rnst Mach, Conributions rc the Anal..sis of thc Sensotion., transl. by C. M.
"soviet legality." \\ rlliuns, Chicago 1897, p. 20

36. Franz Neumann, The Dcmocratic and Authoritarian State, pp. 265-66. For l{. I G Fichte, The Science olEthics,rransl byA. E Kroeger, New york Ig97, p
Ncumann the ''new class" comes into being only when definable economically ln this l( ls
his analysis is similar to thosc of Rizzi, Burnham and Djilas among others. For a
recent,far more satisfaclory, political definition cf . Claude Lefort, "What is Burcau- 15. I G. Fichte, T Science ol Righf., rransl by A. E Kroeger, London lgg9, p
cracy," Telos XXII (Winter 1974-1915, St. Louis). lt,l
37. Forthisargumentcf.PartllbelowandespeciallyHorkheimer'sEclipseolReason 15. .lnthropologic in progmutischer Hinsicht, 61.
urd Adorno-Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment.
17. Voltaire, A Philosophical Dictionr.. Article on .-Good" in The Works of
37a. Ct Marcuse, Soyiet Marxism (New York: Columbia U Press, 1958) and Onc- \',,ltrrire, New York 1901, Vol. V, p 264
Dimensionol Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964).
lll. llt.rrry Charles Lea, A Histor ol the lnquisition ol the Middlc Ages, New york
38. Cf . Franz Neumann, Behemoth,pp.22lff , and C. Marramao op. cit. Marramao, l() ". Vol, I, p 459.
because of his commitment to Marxist orthodoxy as the only possibility of dynamic
theorizing, suppresses the crisis theoretical aspects of Pollock's essay. ('lrrrngts In The Structure of Political Compromise
I St'e , for example, H- Kelsen, Vom Wesen untl Wer der Demokrutie,2d ed
39. Jrgen Habermas, Lagitimation Crisis (Boston: Beacon, 1975 pp.24ff. rlr,rlrr. l()29),and,mrerecently,E.p.Herring,Thepoliticsof Democract,(Ncw
\,rrl', r.19,.
The End of Reason
l. Diologue d'Ephmirt, Ocuv'res compllrcs, Paris 1880, Carnier, Vol. 30, p 488. .' I llttkc, Collccted Works, -5th ed. (Boston, 1877), III,48-5 ff
182 Political Sociologl'and Cririqua of Polirics

Political Science Quart('r1-r', LVI, p 537

35. Tha Thoughr antlChoracter ol William lctnts,ed' R' B' Pcrry, Boston 1935'
[I' p'

36. Ibitl ., p 315. Esthetic Theory and Cultural

37. Ibid , p 383. Criticism
38. Dtnrttracf irr Amarictr, transl. H Reevc, Ncw York 1904, p 584'

39. Quoted in E Mims, The Mojority of tha Ptople' New York l94l' p 152'

40. See for cxample Oswald Spengler' Mun nnd Tc chnics, New York 1932'
p' 96f ''
i.Thc Anti_Inustrial Revolution," in Harpers, December 1941 , pp.
an<J Roy Hclton,

41. In Naional Socialist Germany, the ideology of blootl and soil and the glorification
of the pcasant is an integral part of rhe impcrialistic robilization of industry and labor.

42. For examples of the degree to which this physiological ind

utilizcd see C-hanges in Machinert' and lob Rcquircmcnts in Mi
t93l-36, Works Projccts Administration, Nalional Research P
Philadelphia, p 19. The Concept of Culture*
I lrc concept of culture is significantly ambiguous in normal usage.
43. See Max Horkheimer, "The End of Rcason," above'
l\lot'often than not, "culture" is represented as the sum total of
44. Henry James, "Democracy and Its Issues," in Lectures und Miscelltttties,New .r, tr ilics that possess the aura of[qelJec,u_ality or qpirit_uality, that is,
York 1852, P '17f. tlr, ,r ts and the sciences. But there is also an important usage especial-
Ir, lrr
,, ll,( lll
l,r llrt' lrrankfurt School even if the brunt of their critical concern
l, 'r r r\('s on culture in the first sense. I The two concepts of culture may
rrr l.rt I bc related to one another. In the history of sociology and social
tlr, oy, r)o one did more to elaborate a comprehensive and dynamic
' r,n, (')l oI culture than the turn-of-the-century German thinker i
',rnure l.' Drawing heavily, if implicitly, on Hegel andMarx. S I
,1, I rrrt'tl rrll r,'ulture as hrrman self-creation in the context of cultivating',
tlrrrr,,,, or sclf-cultivation in the process of endowing the things of '
rr,rrur(' \\ ith use and meaning. However, for Simmel, the self-cultiva-
r r.r r ( su h
icctive culiure':) f individuals and the cultivation of things
r , ,l , tt't t ir c culture''l by ensembles of indiv iduals are neirher paraltei
r,'r lr.rrnrorrious. He postulated a gradually and linearly increasing

l,r r lour stelitts by Andrew Arato; last section by Eikc Cebhardt

Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism lntrodtction 187

vision of labor as the red thread of history that leads not only to the
powerful growth of obiective culture, but also to the corresponding
one-sidedness, deformation and overspecialization of individuals,
i.e., to the crisis of subjective culture. True "subjective culture" was
to Simmel the cultivation of the whole personality, and although this
ambiguous in his work, Simmel's restriction of the achievement of
ion to the great cultural "forms," art, philosophy, theologY,
historiography, and science, did imply the highly privileged and qotrg rg,._bgql-inthp_qerr_qy-qqq_e--of ljhi$j'_c_U!!u9_a+d
philosophically preferablenature of some human activities3, i'e', what
Marx more than fifty years before had called "mental work"' Thus,
.e. , the mode of "high" culture that in spite of its utopian anticipa-
nel systematically related culture in the narrow sense of intellec-

tions suppresses its relationship to the social life process) surpassed

self-cultivation and culture in general, the objectification and
alizalion of all human activities. He defined the relationship of lhat of Marx:
two in terms of an increasing split that he called the "tragedy of
The products of art and science owe their existence not merely to
the effort of the great geniuses that created them, but also to the
wrote nothing on "culture" as such' Indeed, his meth-

unnamed drudgeries of their contemporaries. There is qo docu- I

odological remarks on the dependence of "superstructure" on the ment of cultur which is not at thJsame time a ocmentt
..basel' (and in particular the forms of consciousness on the contradic- '
tory structure of a mode of production) have generally been inter-
preted by Marxists as reason enough to disregard the "epiphenome- 'l'hus wrote Walter Benjamin in a 1937 text reproduced below. But lest
,ra" of culture. However, much of Frankfurt cultural theory begins wc assign the argument to his lonely and idiosyncratic position within
with 's:
's al
(or without) the School, let us quote from Adorno iq. 1966;
and manual labor. In distinction to almost allbourgeois theories of the
r (including Simmel's), for Marx "the division of All post-Auschwitz culture, including its urgent critique, isgar-
pag9. I restoring itself after the thig that happened without
resistance in its own countryside, culture has tumed entirely into
the ideology it had been potentially-had been ever since it
presumed, in opposition to material-existence, to inspire that
cxistence with the light denied it by the separation of mind from
manual- 1ot,r/
lrc quotations represent what Adorno himself called
I t
r itiqy ol 9!!Ure, an_ attAck trem an imagingry.a

lrtsi e. Since for most Marxists and even for the sociology of
h o w c d ge the theoretic{..
r r I qqljryL_gl_ :gertqtal "
rlrcrxrrnena- lies_tq__in_Vppgatirg the conflictslc_onqadiS1iA4S.gfuhe
,,, x itl-cconomiq 'lbe_sgll that supposedly slb-ordinate-s cu_lrur-e to the

lrl('rcsts of a glv_en .ryLbgglaSs, these modes of cultural analysis

es broughtabout univer- ( lrrrling Max's own in the German ldeology) also fall under the

andhighlYProdu ety and l r c g of lI g!1lggl1 d e U _oJ . g I :!_g.f@_g4gge. The d_4nger-al so pre-

rr tli rr

,,r'rrt irr lhc above quotations-is that tr_!!_sceqg.g.!gfl!&s,'lfuilfUto

cal illusions that unfree-
188 Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism t89

wipe away the whole as if with a sponge . . . develop an affinity to In a 1937 article, Herbert Marcuse criticized the survival of affirma-
tive culture in the present (hoping for its revolutionary abolition). In
one Adorno usually practiced, '' e,' ' fq{:es the danger Iulother, he focused on the utopian contents of the affirmative culture
gl-&_r"!"C.1.r$gllg! _ir {r9 objec.f-adtiatzed.' Even the above lines ol the past.13 And much later, in his -Essay on Liberation (1969), he
from Negative Dialectics about Auschwitz and culture end, therefore, cirlled once again for the reintegration of culture and Iife through the,
with an ambiguous formulation: rrbolition of "art" and the estheticization of daily life and work, onlyl
to clairn still a few years later in Counterrevolution and Revolt 11972),1
Whoever pleads for the maintenance of this radically culpable lllc need to protect autonomous works even in the future. A.nd mosti'
and shabby culture becomes its accomplice, while the man who rnrportant, Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, two close friends,
says no to culture is directly furthering the barbarism which our ('r)gaged in a set of controversies in the 1930s about art, mass culture
culture showed itself to be.c :rrrd politics in which Adorno used Benjamin against Benjamin and
llcnjamin, as we will see, could have used Adorno the sociologist
The dialectical critique of culture is forbidden either to celebrate rr1:,irinst Adorno the philosopher of art.
autonomous rnind or to hate th-q c_ritique
it; in In the context of such diversity, what is the justification for{go1 participate."I0 While the main FranKurt theorists of
cuhure, Adomo, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Marcuse and I-owenthal

pggqlg*..Il1g"slgg.tgfriutn through citi9!z_!4g_9 _se_qqre

i-4g pf.--dialeqtical culture critique eme,rges from .lbeir

)y9.",F nrr'ow sense] they developed in response to this theory of social I

The .various. aswers which emerge from critical theory's con- nrations matured in the context of a dialogue characterized by the
i lr )r i

frontation with and involvement in culture had to negotiate not only r r rluiil anq co_{pplem_entary adequacy of their criti

Theory of Social Formations

I rrrtle r this heading, we have in mind the historical specification of the
lornlation" of civil society or, more narrowly, capitalism, by the
of "autonomous ends in themselves" or as a socially-politically- , r,rtlr rnaking inrrestigations of Hegel, Marx, Weber, Tnnies and
economically fungible subsphere in which even the useless becomes I rkrics. Here we can focus onlyon some of these theorists and such of
useful? Is there more "truth:l' latent in the "ideologies" of high tlrr'rr concepts as pertain to the Frankfurt critique of culture in the
ulture or in those of "rnass" ctltre? Should the critic.ioncentrate on n,ul()w sense. The system that Hegel called brgerliche (civl| or
"works," or on the productiori and receptiorl of "prO'{ucts"? Are l',,rrr I'er ris) GeseLlschaft (society) was located by Marx, especially in
politically radical works more or lesscritical of the existl4 world than rlr, 136'7 Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Okonomie, in an
autonomous works? Are the works f, the past or the present the rnrrosing framework of historical social formations. Marx called this
repositories of utopia? Is the reintegratipn of mental and manual labor, Ir,nrt'work one of com-
r rrr rrrrtics, i.e. , the com-
nrr rl t() lrll three gre lassi-
from article to article and even at times within the same article. In , rl ,,\rrtituity and Gnanii) is Oirct personal dependence gf hur4
1936, Max Horkheimer concentrated on the role of culture (including 1,, rrr,r orr natural (landl and quasi-natural (the community itself I
high culture) in producing legitirnating beliefs for political domina- ,r, .rrrrositions of existence.,a Thugh indiiiduality (the presupposi- In 1941, he stressed instead, following Kant, the critique of rr'rr ()l wllich is some private property) is mentioned by Marx in the
instrumental reason latent in the purposelessness of genuine works.12 , r , r rl t lrrssical Greece and Rome, he stresses that eren here individu-
Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism

ality can operate only within restricted and "provincial" communal

I Gemeinschaft] to society lGeseilschaltl as the backbone
limits.,' Hegel's civil society, founded on more independent individu- of modern
history, and Lukcs were able to piece much of it together
ality, is located by Marx, in spite of all earlier anticipations, only after from the
deliberately nonhistoricar volumes of Das Kapitar, where
the end of the European Middle Ages. Fully unfolded as capitalism, Marx at-
tempted to work out the systematic nature and general
this system of the socialization of society fVergesellschaftung der tendencies of
capitalism. Lukcs in this context was abre to utilize the
Gesellschaft'l is abstractly characterized as that of "personal inde- work of his
founded on objective dependence . . . in which a system of
older friend Max Weber. The Frankfurt theorists
fpendence d
their version of I{3r!an historic h tlP-
lgeneral social metabolism, of universal relations, of all-round needs
land universal capacities is formed for the first time."ro Evidently
spe --ber.4nd-!!tt;

Marx's attitude to the capitalist social formation was profoundly Max Weber;! qr".tion" uUout the specificit is I

ambiguous, and he was willing to declare it as progress only if a third

co to that of Marx-though not the ks 1

great stage of history based on ''free individuality" and the subordina-

Weber knew-even if the respective methodologies
were entirely I

tlifferent. weber's answers in terms of concepts rike rationari

r tion of wealth to a new freely formed community were realized. rT It is, zaioi,
hureaucratication and de-magicization fill iniruciar
I however, a characteristic of capitalism that all substantial com- aspects of whai
munities disintegrate under the onslaught of malket, competition and Marx only outlined as the "social f sogiety" under industrial
large-scale, industrial division of labor, forcing the subordination of
the newly freed individuals to a new system of mechanically objective
dependence, e.9., economic laws of the market and production. also envisioned I
Furthermore, the new dependence and interdependence of individuals ndividual.thatwo. ldofbolishthe I
jis not only regulated by objective laws, but is also masked by the t ipitalis I' al
system of exchange of things, i.e., commodities. Domination and the " that Marx largely neglected, and at the
exploitation of labor become anonymous when "the social connec-
tions of persons is transposed into a social relation between things. "
9 9-o_49e-pt gf . Marx
jective conte ic laws
tendentially reduces the newly emancipated individual to an abstract
; individual emptied of all formally internalized communal norms,
, customs and habits. The "birth and decline" of the individual are thus
n r('nl "] re
. for Weber the key to all modernization and
ilocated by Marx in the same social order which becomes the proper
historical terrain of Simmel's transhistorical "tragedy of culture."
Fgr Marx in contrdistiqcfion to Simmel, the "socialization of socie-
gliv9_poqqlbility of a new social individuality,
possibility that could be realized only through radical social transfor-
mation. It should be stressed that Marx did not consider the creation of
"national communities" as in the French Revolution to be identical
with this social transformation. The continued existence of a state,
"an illusory community" separate from civil society, reveals the
\oncornmunal nature of the realm of social reproduction.
Marx's historical theory of social formations, worked out in the
G r u ndri s s e, became available only af ter World War II. Nevertheless,
theorists like Tnnies, stressing the movement from community

192 Esthetic Theory 6 Cultural Criticism Iillr)duction t9.l

tion as the self-unfolding logic of history.'zo Furthermore, e in a formally rational context) Weber was able to focus on those
century communal modes of conduct, meanings, justification and norms of
pqsttiyiCm)qqrthe,-tri-s!-qtigCl-ly-!qleemerge4ceof i.nclgggialc-ap-ialism Protestantism that destroyed precisely the communal foundations of
Iife, and facilitated both the emergence of individuality and its integra-
tion in formally rational systems.22
diverse historical settings and contexts. Roman law Finally, one more concept of Weber's needs to be stressed, the
could rise t. u t'tgt". degree of formi-iystemailzation than the . For Weber the rationalization of the state, the
English common law of the period of the Industrial Revolution. tion in terms of the rational rule of law always
Biblical Jewish theology based on monotheism and the prohibition of trkes the hierarchical organizationzil form of bureaucracy.r3 But in the
images was moi "disenchanted" than all forms of Christianity until Irrlly rationaliZed modern world, bureaucracy does not remain within
at least Calvinism. Partly rational bureaucracies existed in China those original limits. With.the possible exception of the capitalist
thousands of years before modernization in the West. Nor were the rrrarket, bureaucracy reveals itself as the most efficient mode of
particular logics of these "rational" spheres identical except on the organization of all spheres of life from the state to the military, from
highest level of abstraction. is:-![y were_lfre somewllat rcligion to education, thus finally penetrating the cultural sphere
heter_ogene_ouq a{ q-e-lalively underde vqlqped sphere s of f ormal rea-
tsclf.,a u-
gglq[=d tgge-ther only in Western Europe? The "elective affini- ,O-
ty" of the spheres of commercial capitalism, early nation-state, early ,l v.
modern science, Roman law etc., i.e., the abstract presence in all of ( )rce bureaucratized, the modern state and its military arm can be
some mode of the same formal rationality, was a necessary, but not yet tlt'srroled and replaced only by enemies equally well organized. The
I\1rrxist go-glq of freedom and material wealth are therefore-ir-rc_gppat-
rlrle with-q4.e-enolhgr and with the proposed means of tgp_!93l

,,rs for_the -
,l, r line of the individual subiect were expertly brought together by
t it'org Lukcs at several points of his early career. Best known to the
inner-worldly ascetic ethics of Protestantism. Without the irrationally I r,rnkf urt theorists were the pre-Marxist Theory of the Novel (1914-
motivated,r yet staunchly rationalistic ethics of Calvinism, and
Puritanism in particular, the hallmark of Western modernity, ther

l.rtr'lrri integration of the individual in an objective, impersonal sys-l

t, rrr. hut also extended the category of de-magicization to thosd
' rnlrols and sensuous life-contents that had hitherto provided the
r r. tt r i rls for artistic formation. Thus he was able to discover the crisis
r r

, ,,1 , rrltrrrc not only on the subjective side (as did Simmel) under the
I l,,,,,lirrg
of the crisis of the individual, but also on the objective side,
the movement from community (based on quasi-natural, irrational and , ,,rr tlrr' side
traditional norms) to society (based on the emergence of individuality | 'r"lrlt'rrrlrlic.l

I 194 Eshetic Theor' and Culturol Criticism Introduction

drama form, his theory of the novel that of the ancient epic and its human domination in capitalist production
[ fetish,,] as a
modern descendant, the novel. he relationship of "things" (
'ty, Ibor poer
to wage)
. The l9l9 Marxist essay "Old and New
( Culture" draws the terse conclusion that Marx himself at times sus-
pected: culture has collapsed during the capitalist epoch. ButLukcs,
before he came to Marx, tried to be a bit more careful. He detected in
this context, for example, a decline from the beginnings of bourgeois exlg4d-_atlqelpfld_the caregory of commodity ftish/gm beynd the
society based on the "vifual communities," especially of early small rnerely economic-hence.ttlg nw term " reificatlon/'-uy
town Protestantism, to th modern urban setting of bourgeois civiliza- it in terms of that rarionalization wncn w"u", Jlr;.r;;il;,','n:i
tion characterized by loneliness and anomie.( And in Theory of the l_si9res of modern capitalism. On the other hand, he tried to makel
Novelhe was able to present the modem novel as asymptomatic (and Weber's category of rationalization more dynamic
by identiffi.
internally crisis-ridden) yet still esthetic form of the period of the crisis commodity fetishism, under a developed capitalist ,yr,"_,
u. it;
of the individual. paradigmatic form and even more important as iis
hidden dyna-ic.
lhen sought to show that commodity fetishism moves
fn Theory of the Novel, the dominating motif is the contrast towa.d it, o*ir
between the idealized, harmonious, closed and limited organic com- sclf de-fetishization and serf-aborition. AII these intenrions
munities of ancient Greece and the reduction of the social world of
civil or bourgeois society (the site of the rise and crisis of individuali-

is expressed by the ancient epic, the second by the modern novel

whose hero is the problematic individual-lonely, isolated, homeless,
creative in principle but without the substantial ties that real creativity
presupposes. For Lukcs, a completed esthetic form implied a utopian
reconciliation between creator (subject) and created (work), or har-
mony between intention and technique. In the case of the novel,
however, a complete, harmonious, self-evident form was never at-
tained, and the,.utopias internal to novels always turn out to be mele
extensions of present tendencie:. As a result, the possibility of moving
beyond the present cannot be conceptualized within art: Lukcs,
f ore shadowinC B plo, staunchly condemned al I at-
"elggl _tl.d_4d- nt that led to the crisis of art and
remprs to r.-"itnJiitha'uua

'onsciousness both deepened the analysis of cultural crisis and pro-

jected a political solution to the problem the sources of which did notl
lie in the restricted sphere of culture. I

"Reification" lVerdinglichungl represents an uneasy conceptu-l

synthesig of Weber's "rationalization" and Marx's commodi
ishism. great pains to
cept bf fetish, that is, the appearance of relations of human inter-
dependencethrough the market ["commodity 6tstr;-l and those of
t96 Estheic Theorl ancl Culnral Criticism Iltroduction

one would also expect from the broad movement described by Tnnies /.r' the subject only of revorutionary transfor
is a paradox of
as lhat from community to society. Irrankfurr theory thar of its theorists, T.W did more than
he is not merely describing the reification of the
wor t production, but that the fate of the atomized,

tics facing class consciousness.

The Concept of Critique

g. And even where he could identify some

conscious recognition of the destructive consequences of reification,
as in classical German philosophy and in art, he was able to show that
the inability to imagine the conquest of commodity fetishism and
reification in social practice leads to regression even in the case ofthe

which is able systematically and

of reification to the total society
would be a small step toward de-fetishization if it corresponded to (
met halfway) another step, a step toward class conscio
part of those to *tom tnl't-fi*u! oai.dS"b,'th.i'l
letariat. Lukcs even attempted to work out a conception that
make the self-consciousness of workers about the reduction of
of historical materiarism do-es nol-scpe teiate poritrcui
Lukcs's answer to Weber ultimately depended on his ability to 't'sirn
)ltomy "r
r'r'( in the medium of critqgg.:6 Even if it does not project all the
demontiate Cnin lei s-li-sm- the ieit i behin:r,C- t .hrrructeiisrics f apitalism into the past and the futuie,
rrurtcrialism does illegitimately so project the primacy of
a relatively.
trrrlt'rcndent economic base. However, the self-critique
of historical
q . The theory of reification clearly shows how lutlcrialism, i.e., the application,of the meth
workers are objects of the system. It even demonstrates that "im-

I rrrllrrldox historical materiatjs_m, cqnlgf be completed,

according to
mediately" the consciousness of workers is perhaps the most vic- I rrkiics, ,niil ite-_.est-uilrrr.nirt flocialist sociery. For the rime
timized by reification. Lukcs's claim for their potential subjectivity lr.irrg, the crude version of the theory remains an important weapon
d the of v{ue (whih he dos use) than o llrt' t'luss struggle.rT Thus, the burk of Lukcs's reification thesis
is '
h i re d) that the objectively possible self- rilt('ltorcd e.conomy, andnotyetamoregeneral
consciousness o workers is alredy a practical action, an action that ('olecpt that the self_critique of historical
mio-ver nra prepal trr giouna tor ite sriiful reception of rrrrrtcrialism (itself partly under the aegis of the reification of
revolutionary theory by its proper addressees.33 The working class is r'' r.()rly) would ha,e necessarily inaugurated. But as we
ha,e seen,
thus only potentially the subject of the capitalist period, andis actual- llr. irrrt'gration of Mi w-bi-i work already meannhar the descrip-

Culturul Critcism Itttroduction t99
t98 Esthetic Theort' anl

tive aspects (not the dynamic) of the critique of political economy are
unfolded rather as a general critique of sociology' It was through the
use of the " that Lukcs was
critique of political economy (and sociology)
able to distinguish the
from the sciences of political economy (and sociology)'

hcst be understood in terms of this difference, one that we would like
t cxplie. Flere e illistrici-ouielvs, for the sake of the clearest
contrast, to Lukcs's 1923 position, ultimately grounded in the myth
of the proletari-at, and Adogro'i Jqte antinomic view, based on the
tlissolution of all Adorno, like Lukcs, always accept
notion that mediation must be grounded in the essential natu
ot the object itself.ot But where Lukcs (like the early Adorno)
context and are finally relate e social whole, the vision of which
strxd this object in the sense of a u'iI-ie, namic, socia iottity
'---"--o , _ .-. .1 .-
ory-the Proletariat-de-feti shi cornes to practical self-consciousnessi ievotutiary iheory, in i
lrlc Adomo the unity and identity of the object itself is in doubt. 0
themselves in itre piiict iecnitio
tlrc one han-cl, ilrno reproilues a ner taiic version of the hii;ori
full form of their self- r'rl materialist'lreffse that the relaiioship-f conomic base
in the theory' The theory (i'e' ' rrrrcrstructure is present in all "i6lgy"; on-th ottrer]d,
consciousness lKlassenbewusstsein)
irrsists that we can have knowledge of total society only in the form
theoretical mediation) discovers its reality (and that of its categories)
trricrology-i.e., through the intensive, critical examination of single,
in its being so recognized by its addressees. This is elegant Hegelian
lolrrlizdworks in art and philosophy. Mediation, then, in the form
theorizing, but it sounds rather hollow fifty years later' Adorno's
adoption of the concept of reification and mediation carries the burden

wlrolc is untrue." Of col; ocial

lolulity totalized by the means of total, administrative-bureaucratic or
tvcn lotalitarian practice.42 Mediation, in
forrr of an "immanent critiuttih-ahas

-I;l . i'i i;l i qin Iulrrrc-oriented transformation of the false whole of sociesr, is there-
til"utf a{v a "
the alreadY mentioned shift in irxc
' sPread bY the logic of adminis- fl (ly
ality under the form-qf-!9tish- Arkr

ism.ForAE-mltto-f h-mmc-ifte;.6jeci ctslr'tiio

j=ve---f urrli l.ukcsian premise: the nonexistence of a social
a -qc,9"Dd- The t f re l i on
ThI[man beings of the administered-vorld qrp fr4gmgr
veJoped civil or bourgeois society constitute
t .

erl nrrhjccts of damaged intersubjective-knowldg that cannot consti-

ttringtit<e facts of this administered second nature, facts that adminis-
trative research
Irrtt gr:nuine iisubjeciiv-ityb gpjgg) from
lrut'e's rf meaning in iliru6U of objective spirir. While in ttre tg
hiiinn relations
lltc rrolctariat was for him still the potential revolutionary subject,
isarch, by fetishizingiet-iis consciousness" that adheres to the
I 240 Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism

Ipossible irJentity of theoretical mediation and the practical self-media- t cpts in his 1937 essay "Affirmative Culturc": the f irst to the extcnt
ltion of the addressees of theory, and hoped only for a parallel and tlrrrt hc jixtaposes and confronts the true, ulcpian ancl the falsc,
iincomplete legitintating.. "affirmative"
mediation of micrological theory and those of its objects .Tqme{!,s.-gf at,. and rhe second to the
themselves incorporate the project of critique, i.e., autonomous ( \tcnt that h hpes to reolvc the contiadiction <f art by the rorill
;works of art. Where Lukcs in the manner of Hegel mediates reifica- rrri11 , sl.rlrtionary abolirion of socially nccessary illusion. opcning
i tion toward subject-object identity, Adorno's rne4iation
("through tlre ua1 lo a new cultur basetl r.n the unitl of arl and lifc. The sccond
ithe extremes") does not lead beyond antinomy, beyond unresolved rrrove especially firmly locates the critical theory of the 1930s
lcontradiction. The micrological analysis of antinomic objects in a t I re realm_of Lukcsian Marxi sm. For Lukcs, too, the di alectic
of truc
' common field
(''the eifremes of modem music, " for example) may '

unfold the idea behind each object until "the inherent consequence of ;

the object is transformed into thei r self -criticism, " but no overcoming
of the initial aritinomy is thereby achieved.* We must stress here that
Adomo from the early 1930s on insisted on the cognitive function of
great works of at.45 Beethoven's achievement, for example, is often ,

compared fo Hegel'sm: the method of each is chaacterized as the

unfolding of a "d y." But in a period in which Hegel's
theretical object is portrayed as ' ' untrue, ' 'ar forced to re-
qf pqssible cognition in both art and theory. To irold 1

on to their essential cognitive function, must appear as negative, ,

e. [n both art and theory, "the successful work . . . is not one i ,,1,it'ctivels' possiblc aspiration of empirical reality to the heights of
:^.,^L^-^--, t.,r^-^ |
tlrought. For Adorno, as we have seen, it is just this process of
which resolves objective contradiction in a spurious harmony, but one
,l s the idea of harmonY negati
( pure and uncomPromised.
\i s offer a better charac terizatio
iunderstanding. When he rnoves from critique to self-critiqrr-q, in the
..fgreat essay ty,"ae " too is able to
Jexpress the eory only negatively, by Adorno locates his own difficulty in defining ideology precisely
N the dialecti he thoroughly criticized rr tlre udministered world. He gives us at least three definitions, and

Within the Marxian traditionsr the best-known version is that in the

9ur^rn trotogy, which reduces ideology to the i4eas of the ruling
qlass p-C-jg!bs-Ie-k-4q9qel9d

Esthetic Theor and Culturol Criticism
Introductiott 203

?l t of view of total societ

e/ ity. They appear when "purely im- I

reltions of power predominate. " Adorno means here not so

much reduplicatiol i; sesf conceptual copy (that could still manent criticism, immersion in the internal form anq stqg__tli I
ave a moment of rational representation) but irrational ideas (e.g., [r" ,
cpoch, Marxist theory had to confront liberal ideology with its mo-
fascism) that are mere instruments of power in a world in which
rnent of falsehood. e
is rnoment of truth of i ies against technocratic reason, and even

artisiic iepresenta ultimately through But

in this context, Adorno seeks to discover through critique the
interest structure behind irrational "ideologies" and the "an- oo reaclrly celebrats@stulating-as Adorno
ahangeslnuman-bingl-Ai-lead-stolieinstrumental , s to di' at ii-r s-ri llglIg11qlgiqly_lqgqlgg1! _lgg_c_ of
ce m
'ultural forms. Measuring culr againl iilown normatlve il"ul,
fficiency of irrational ideas. Here lies the importance for Adorno of
irnmanirt ciidque all too readily forgets about the ambiguous role of
critique of fascist "ideology" and of the culture industry.
itlcas in social conflicts and distracts from the true horrors of the social
It seems to us that Adorno under the historical impact of fascism,
world.6r And even if it manages to discover dynamic contradictions
Stalinism and the culture industry, drastically downplayed the first
meaning of ideology in relation to absorbing it
'ultimately in the third).'-e was ready often enough to utilize ttr rrcnt ciiiiiiu i pe-rls toEsolve the contradictions, to liberate
results of social science, but as we will see,l' rind frm thli
empirical social science to critical philosophy wa.93!ya_Vs lJrtinomic h the work.
I in his wnk The rrltimafe rercnn' Adomn lnqf hnne nf diccnverino
h rg ic of cultural forms, is complicitous wiih
iiresei nd futre admin-
x r\trrtions seking to level and integrate culture. Transcendentcritique
rs interested in the uniform whole and spares itself the conceptual
instrumental reason, emerging from the debris of genuine ideologies,'
r'l lrlrt of examining the particular ''in its difference. ": Nevertheless,
I orrly transcendent critique reprodqces_the
with his own antinomic combination of immanent critique addressing
I th;rt ah genuinb-qii!-u *ui.t*Jint
(and mediating) the critical potentialities of genuine works and trans-

Adorno was never smugly complacent about the antinomic struc-

ture of his own critique. Turning the reflective power of critique
against itself , he demonstrated in many of his writingt".t3g|9gyu-
"lrt'ightcns cultural criticism until the notion of culture is itself
rrr,irrtccl, flTillA and urmouni-;','nrv ir we aiop irre lasi word.
ogffiffi major role in sociafinilration, the demonstration l)rrrlt'ctical critiqu cair, ii the basis of Adorno's self-presentation,
heir interest sfiucture (as in classical Maxist ideology critique) from lr,rrtlly be more than the successful work "which expressestheideaof
Ir,rrrrorry negatively by embodying the contradiction." Adorno's
Esthetic Theor' and Cultural Criticism

dialectic as against Hegel's "is obliged to be mindful of the duality of tlrt'ory. Many positions of the 1930s of Marcuse and Horkheimer
the moments." "The dialectical critic of culture" has no alternative t'srccially fall under what Adorno called transcendent critique.Tr rhe
but to "participate in culture and not participate."6 ;rttrlck of coqrse w-as primarily direcfed at orthodox historicar materi;l-
The consequences of Adorno's redefinition of cultural criticism
were momentous for the development of the very form'of his critical tl
theory. The demand to liberate the critical power of the works of ul
culture by the stringent combination of both transcendent and immar .'rrrcrstructure (hence
cultural phenomena) in the "last instance" the
nent critique is satisfied only by the analysis of those works that avoid
the fetishization of culture, by taking reflection into their very sti-
f ie. TFe ttral Db s sible or- as c uttre- ciltique exist J c- r ritical thg![y_' in _t!9_]g0 reveals rhe name as o teim to
N lrrr xism (or Lukcsian Marxism) and ni its iastic .inrpiaii,o )
,r,, rrrrnrily negative, immanent dialectical critique. Horkheimer'
i-n7t.ans"endent" and often scientistic pretense of locating fun,c-l l',t rrf the -dift'erentia specilica of criticar versus traditionar theo.
tion of culture in a completely understood whole is forced to accept thel r,rrsists of tfi icogniiio; of rhe rhoi/i own inir ;tur;,
self-critique of culture ( lly art) on an , , ,r r cctioi in dte res
r ne preconoluon, nowever, ts rnar mgge_ry,gl _ l!99{- ,, t it,r of to ic relati
ks and crevices of a world torn mercilessly apart into its
ipresntalionl'a' Hre lies special importance of presentirrg .r 'rrcd that critical theory receives present confirmation of its
cultural theory in terms of the critical essay form which is best suited rr ,r luture liberated society in the fantasy (read: advanced
art) of the
to micrology.0s Its critical function affirms and preserves the cognitive Itl r'\c
d i men s ion of works of ar t. The p,arqllpl l,ltl,r
hwvi, deiiyi ttr tritalizing and systematic illusion of critical lr ll
tllggrv irseif; irka 's
and Marcuse's versions of the critical Marxist enterprise. If behind the
curtain of mediation Hegelian theory discovered itself, and Lukcs's
version of Marxism discovered the proletariat whose proper clarss
consciousness the theory supposedly was, then it is Adorno's vie-,w

,,,rlltl ancl .. \
,',,,'r(lrg to sf/
Ir,rlol ()Pus, r_
ealgr which is today tgslllgtgd for. Adorno to .critical _q_-alld r r.rlt\ c cultu
_phi_]q.sepry., His last major works, Negative Dialectics and the post-
humously published Esthetic Theory, are best understood as them-
selves collections of essays and, at times, even aphorisms in 'the' ltr r

manner of Minma Moililla. , t, )'

Even though Adorno as early as 1932 began to stress the analo-
gous tasks of art and social theory, and especially the cognitive
character of an art that expresses social antinomies in its own rigorous_
formal language,?o the reduction of critique of ideology to the essay
form does not the early self-comprehension of critical
206 Esthetic Theor' und Cultural Criicivn lntroduction 207

fJetztzeiten)in which the dialectic stands still lDialektik im Still' The < ical
standl, he had a ' 'conservative' ' attitude that has been best described thco_Iyald'\Ir'4.!e.lEelj44,-nls,ISl,ol wasclearlynoticed
as one of "rettende Kritik," a critique that saves or redeems.'8 For hy Adorno in his criticism of Benjamin in the 1930s. Nevertheless, t
Benjamin, this attitude, whicf'eoinided with both his theolgical I

interest and his self-understanding as a collector.,'e was first combined

with politi and melancholy, and subsequently with his
defense of al theate_r.80In neither context did he attack a tcrms of their clashing evaluation of the relationship of art and modern
culture already in dissolution in his estimation.8' Nor did he ever tcchnology, and of art and politics.
propose that he had a transcendent, evolutionary scheme or even a
systematic reconstruction of the totality of the present which could Modern Art and Culture IndustrY
unambiguously guarantee a dialectical abolition-preservation of art in llaving presented some of the conceptual parameters presupposed by
.- a society of fu nstructing the Frankfurt theory of culture, we should now indicate in detail how
\ the totality of s blinded, thcse parameters were used. Horkheimer's "End of Reason" could
{ nature-bound Benjamin cqually serve as the lead article ofthis section. The essay, acritique of
always understood the task of critique or citicism in the sense of the late capitalist culture and politics, gives convincing iroof of its au-
search for the truth of orks (against mere commentary) but at the t hor's adherence to what we outlined as the theory of social formations

sarne time a
in terms of might83 say which emerges from the work of Marx, Weber, and Lukcs, and of his f
esiaylllic_ impu!se,-8] Many in moved to rrbility to adopt this model to current needs and experiences. Marx,/
re-ogniie the critical spirit of moderni- Wcber and even the Lukcs of History and Class Consciousne.. saw
ty (the baroque, romanticism, Baudelaire and surrealism) which es- onty a unified epoch of civil society as against its historical back-
chewed the task of symbolic reconciliation in the medium of "beauti- rl
,..,..,-r ^- C..+'.-^ aacnatirrac rrrhilp flarlheimer nnnfrnnterl an

,'l cirril snrierv Thus in l94l
(,!_gllil,o_c_i9ry. hlyas
1941 he historicallv "thd
was able to locate h
cil of the individual" (as against a traditional Greek and
rrrcdieval background in which a harmony existed between individual

i While such concepts of Lukcsian Marxism as "second nature" l)
x' fetishism and praxis had already had a strong effect on him in the rivos underthe Hork-
..irncr, Mar under-
strxrd fully that in the context of the destruction of community, of
han loneliness, industrial degradation of nature and economic crisis,

Stitlstand. " On the one hand, a dialectic at standstill brings to the thc wpakegef, gges 9f !.tI"9 ptg9nt 4r-9 espgc4lly-9.Pgsed-1o t!te--c!a5m
of dcmaggg!-c-l!9y9-me-[t.9 p.Iog!4lmilg thg f4\e. restoration of -natiqgal
corn_m_u-nity, the f4!q9 re-tyg 1o natue3nd 1!e yery real eld-9f gqo-[gm-
onqmy te
u r is !q _througtr "ttre glj ite1zgg-ql-9t_the ec .
r c' !

As in political sociology, the cultural theory of the School

rrrurnimously declared that all attempts to return to a supposed golden
208 Eshetic Theor, and Culural Criticisnt

age were bankrupt and mortally dangerous. No one was more emphat_
ic on this point than Walter Benjamin.
rrrolrilization-gf--l_o-S1 t-raditions against gh
t e rlain_lr ngt in_q_ll e9p-e_cJ9,.Be-njp.r1ir_r yvn o[ on9 mir.q {it[ e,
1925 pre-Marxist volume The Origin of the German
I oue'nth-al, Hokhqir4eq and Adorno.
Tra 'sad play" as against tragedyl was next to Lukcs,s
Theory ol the Novelthe most important background text of Frankfurt
t rrr Entzouberun_g-.-il_th.g..9glpg!-9f_gIt, a use that leads to the
I ^utrurKnttk. rts concept of allegory
alregory has been construed by the old
ilrt'rratizatio-i tt. "end of rt.; Best known in this context is
{ Lukacs, by Adorno and Habermas among others, as the key to the
It.'rrjurnin'--'Work of Art in ihe {gg of its Mechanical Reproducibili-_
\interpretation of modern art. For the moment, we are interested in ' ( 1936) but equally important for the sake of a many-sided picture
Benjamin's depiction of the historical context of the emergence of
as an anri-esrhetic principle within art irself. This cntext is
r rl llrc concept of the ar.rra are "The I
the "second
secono nature
nature" ot
lrlotil's in Baudelaire," (1939).* I
of ctvrl
civil society, tlrr l-
lbaroque, according ro Benjamin, in te
Gecay, qectlne
decline and cllslntegratron.
disintegration. The
also by implicarion those of rornanticism t*ni"E
"r'te "ltr.vl |.,.,,,,,.,.,,,,UttlaultlUllalluUytIltr5tIuBBltr
for-. fll-suy

lltr,tlrt for a new collective-political art igI!", I

rn several, related ways. The authenticity of a nonreproduc-

.rl rlt *,rrO, unique existence in a fabric of tradition, the hving relation-
.lrrr ol a work to a religious cr.llt and the phenomeno, bf distance that
,r l):ultes us not only from a natural landscape but from all unique,
rr rrlr l I
tr.n ( I
l, ,ttll
rr\ llcnjamin depicts the decline of the aura prirnarily in terrm of l

t, , lrrrological, but also economic and social tendencies. The growth of

t, , lrrrolrgical methods of reproduction which Benjamin deduces from
tlr, [\lirrxian dialectic of forces and relations of production leads to a
tr('rrcndous shattering of tradition." Modern reproduction tech-|
creature in the context of a "second nature" over which he is power-
less. I rrr' lu('\ pLotluc g-enres wlIh-out u ic works,?nd tear vl
The theme of the decline of community accompanies Benjamin,s
I tlr, ,t'nlcs of the past from th fbric which'was the
rrrrrl i1 foundation of their mystery, their uniqueneSs. i\4odern mass
lifwork, to be later complemented by the hope for the construction f
rr'ty (i.e. bourgeois or civil society) means the destruction of the
. a new type of free collective. His now famous theory of the disintegra_
,r r,rl l)scs of religious cults, and the contemporary masses suspi-l
tion of esrheric auraer was connected by Benjamin himserf to the
, r,,r,, ol cult ad mystique
idestruction of the traditional, cultic fabric of natural communities and !e.1d_to bring, things clory11o thqrsglv9 i
to of communicable experience.
condition of possibit-
ne as rhe
I he road toward a new, collec-
ttive, democratic art form. In other,
less optimistic contexts that recall
the Trauerspiels book he may be saddened about what is lost, but he is
al ,,rl l lrc audience of a film is distracted, is bombarded by the shock
Itttt otluction 2il
210 Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism

inherent in montage and is unable to identify with actors who ' 'play' ' 1S-
for an objeciii-apparatus. Benjamin, following Brecht, insists that rrhlc unconscious 9lq
these characteristics of
filry pryduce a d_i91an9-gd_ gstrangepegt_(Ver- ifl,
fremdungseffekr) on the part of the audience that leads to a critical-
active attitude toward whal ii seeil The audien iiiurt, aiifu rrrrrnitiSEiing ihei original accumulation of capital in the destruction
"9!{liyily 1rf c{1!gl_i,_ h lcnance to reject or to complete an
intrinsically unfinished work.e5
To the Benjamin of the "Work of Art" essay all art, all culture is llr
necessarily functionalized. The concept of function is presented in
I lli
terms of a secularization thesis rather than a Marxist class analysis. In I
the distant past cultic-religious functions predominated. The Iast form i nr ) lraces of human subjects, and unaccustomed to shared experience,
of cy! yf9 i; ! q p9uy l'arl which replaces religion !y !t lltt_"4_o - rrrotlcrn mn wiii oifinO tris gaze returned in traditional works or
gy of art. "[n the age of commodification ''exhibition value" " replaces
rrrrlrrrc f,* o'''lt, &
tt vlile in relationship to traditional works. But in the case of the The 1936 and 1939 treatments of aura ("Work of Art" v*.''.,UL., di.l
new means of mechanical reproduction political value or political
function predominates .n te urg-e-ncy of this newlitaii,oliei in itre
possitile a-lterq{yg qf- tas9is1p.9.!iti9_ig!o! 9f gI!_which uses the
remnants or traces of older, quasi-cultic values to beautify reactionary
politics. To Benjamin the only answer to the fascist challenge is that rrr t', nonauthoritarian ag:qs of-this t4{t-o-a-nd is nostalgic (at the
of art which unites arti ,,, t"urti a6o;lliliri.e. (2) The new means of reprodrction, theJ)
' r,
,nqve!qq[l_f e_r_glt:qo lr'\v rnedia, are evaluated in 1936 as more or less the causes of the
The alternative, so sharply posed in a primarily political essay that rlr't lirrc of the aura, whereas in 1939 they are interpreted only as parts
is intrinsically related to the somewhat earlier ' " ,l rur <>rrerall context that is generated by other social factors (e.g.
rep?6ed 6elow, nd also to Brecht's D_reig f-' ,[', lincof ieyoUslf [ .l)
tened in Benjarnin's more scholarly contemporary work. It is essential
rt( \(,ntcd a are the. I
to look at this more subtle side of his argument that was worked out tr,rlrin of whereas
p{mqiy,n_ t!,_._' !-916- "1Tr Storyteller'' and (after Adorno' s criti- tlrr' "storyteller" and "Some Motifs in Baudelaire" imply that the
'cisms to which we will later turn) the 1938 "Some Motifs in
tr,rrlilional communal context ofreceptin !,tB!e
Here the element of technologlcal determinlsm lmpllcil Ir r' GG;f-Ktr[,
rvorks of mocli-art re) in
in the above argument is relativized to the extent that these essays ,,rrtc o[ fantastic o elpgrTenlg g_f
thematize the substratum of aura that is lost: communicable experi- tlrr' loss of aura in I communica-
andcommunity.Bothessaysp"i{,!o_t[9_q9ggcq91g.f _Ce_nu_igg l, r.1 ttdanticiparion of
rr qualitatively diTfeilnilirry ori iaii ihe
:ience which rests on communication and to its replacement by r, rlrrr tion of ie presenf one to ruins. We would !ike to focus only on
.Jhere can be no communication without a shared struc- tlrl lrrsl point here. From the point of view of Benjamin's book on the _

of ry933!g,s ilq q_oll"gtiyg_lq9r-r-qry, but the movement from l,,rrrxluc, the theses of which are consciously incorporated into his I
einschaft to Gesellschaft that capitalism completes destroys the_ rrrrrr lr lrrlcr studies on Baudelaire, the attack on aura in the "Work of /
bases (ritual, ceremon, -fefin bf such '\ I I ' ' t'ssly is justif ied only by the fascist attempt to estheticize politigs
is experience in the strict sense lrr tlrt' nrcdium of symbol and beautiful illusion. From the same earlier
contents of the individual past combine with materials of the collective r' rl rr ( )l vicw the 1 936 essay can be faulted however for not recogniz-
past."cr To Benjamin in the absence of community the individual is trr' tlr;rl lllcgorical works which renounce the ideal of beauty, and
detached from a collective past. Furthermore t@g1!qq[gep-
2t2 E.shctic Theorr and Cttltttral Critcism :t-)

present inan the civil society that is characterized by the disintegration of tradition
present as ruin i supporting substantial experience. Paradoxically it is the experience
possible contexts of !ton. In fact, asAdorno o[ shock, so c th
was to show (and Be e new media themselves Ta.s l-Proust es

open to a which' culture What is ffiiiuals, festivals and a different,

try might quallY for the tualitative relationship td-nature : i*-WoimembislBEja-mTn pos-
adVertisement of movie stars, merchandise and fascist regiTgl ulates a collective memory, repre-etfbit no[ itatty inaccessible,
Since Be ich relates to which is
its symb
negat', destructiv etunction,.T:H':ii:l
"rcm--mbiance--possible? Benjamin explores in this context the
why he attributed only a
use of the new mechanical Fake aura does not restore rrterial texture of everyday urban life, and he lets strange and unusual
r r

weakened traditions. However, not one, but two positive alternatives- eorrespondences emerge as unintended consequences of speech, of
emerge from this thesis. The first reach.s back to'Benjamin's own work, of strolling (the "flnerie" of the "flneur"), of literary or
tlrcoreticat5-ciivfi insiances-aT-hastihe-orrespondences.
rrow called "dialectical images" are consciously pursued. The poet
llirudelaire, confronted with the disappearance of those experiential
nrlterials that historically supported poetry, raises the principle of this
rlisappearance, the transformation of perception by shock, to a new
becomes obsolete. The concept ol qf lggorr- in spite of Benjamin?s
historical focus-prepares the ground for three type_s of interpretatlon-
of modernism. First, and perhaps best known, is Lukcs's claim
's earl;'critique of
1I fetishize the frg--
possibility of the lnl. collective character of experience. It is this juxtaposition that is
defetishizing totalization (in Adorno's mediation) which points be- ( ir sti
tt [91

),"," nr"r"n, is Benjamin's own. w. u.ri.#ihat this was his own

rr inciple of form: to collect and reproduce in quotation the conlradic-
tons of the present without resolution. This formal principle is the
derived through the prism of Ernst Bloch's appropriation of Benja- rrrrtcr limit of a non-authoritarian essayistic attitude to a potential
,rrrrlicnc, rcheclnlen by Adorno, who sought a
rrrrrc activ dialettit/
. lt is ,iy iontrouersial whether the inner logic of Benjamin's
lrrlrctic the6ry-stop--s wiiThe anri_g{h_oilqlln thgorz dq!.r.rllS
ttt tt slondstill. The fact that the second major alternative within in his
which presents a rather strong contrast to his two essays reproduced r,rtlrelic thry implies rhe discovery-of itr in-ticai principle in
below, must be considered in light of theseltr-ogeul-ntrpret- lllr'r'lrt'
Tia f the meaning of his work. rlt'tcly
To Benjamin the collective, intersubjective moments of histori- lltc tutt
cal experience do not disappear without traces e\/en in the period of r r.('r'n t ly cchoed by Habrm-as" d yt-theitps to ncnt fotiw f-rom
214 Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism
Inlroduclion 215

a crucial difference between Benjamin's and Adomo's esthetics. artistic production points in the same direction, if we keep Max's
Uenjni,i's-ires-i lyzing a oiki dfiil-ad ( uis-ri-s Adoin) description of capitalist production in miud.
in the directi f Ilie eonditions-of prcdueon and recepr'ron. Ttrc
formal characteristics of the work itself were less important to Benja-
min. It was of greater importance to him to insist on the liberating
possibilities of ttr'ortS Of itE patt and the future in rlationship to
the extent that E-njiif f-oiuied o-n th opn, fiagmentary wr[s of
colletiie moOes f production and reception. He was ready to surren- lhe avant-garde as a terrain of critique and action, Brecht was not an
dathe aiiiof the creative personality even where, as in the case of unlikely object of great interestr,Benjamin's interesi iBiehTwli
Baudelaire,-Kfl<, Pioust and himself, the works produced were open f acilitaied bv a-tt U1, trii interest in community, which unfortunately
and critical. In this context he welcomed those technologies that made came to be expreSdfa-tiirn t ih '-mei.-tThe problem was rhat
all individual genius obsolete, and even more the one author, Bertolt of a
ed the existence
Brecht, who attempted to raise this moment of the decline of aura at least a political
(along with other elements) to the formal principle of. a collective,
en works somehow
political art. sccmed plausible. The empirical difficulties with this self-recognition
T"he 1937 essay "The Author as Producer" reproduced below is
wcre eventually (as always) met by a preconstructed and administered
the best surmary dglensg pfBrectrt, but it is also
rolitical line. The discussion of the problem of community under the
remarklb-l foi ils instrumentalization of art in the lr
Soviet Union. To bd i B.llil !t9ks arliqtic autonomy not in
the name of administration but in the name of a collective, open,
ir .,
experimental, technically innovative political art form. Brecht's the- tleeisively rejectd Cmmniit ptitics.,6 I *ti,nett.l..i b. u
ater is a "dramatic laboratory" which uses all of its technical sophisti- nristake to assume his earlier acceptance of that politics was not one of
cation tolkt-the slf-education of audiences possible. The play, "an tlrc possible altematives to a mind seeking to work out a satisfactory
experimcntaft"*ii;-' fSte1s tw dialogues: on bteen the produc- rt'lutionship
ers of the play with the advanced technical means of communication,
and another between actor, author, technical personnel and the "re-
duced men of today."
lrirnsclf. wledgeofMarxiantheory,doesnot'_
become coauthor, coact ( lll.fge /'
the Soviet films of the It would be a mistake to derive Benjamin's revolutionary roman-
protfips oFth."y,lalyE-.iitionship between work and audience.
trr rsnr from the LukcJoi the l92Os. "o If Benjamin derived his stress
In the 1930s this illusion could only legitimate the increasingly repres- ,,r r t hc subjc[ivity of the masses (sic) from Lukcs, he clearly omitted
sive culturl policies of the Soviet state, and Benjamin naively for a rlrt' | .uktsin requiremnt tht the reification of empirical conscious-
moment affirmed the right of this state to its interference witb artistic nt'ss nlust be "mediated. " Adomo's attack proceeds exactly from this
autonomy.08 This confusion of free collectivity with authority already \lru xist point of view. (On the other hand, Benjamin'9 l!{0 j_lTheggs
revealed the uneay'i of thos two elepenls of Brecht's plays ,,r tlrc Philosophy of History" will represent a break not only with
llrltht's, but also with Adorno-Horkheimer's early Marxism. The
,rr I I rr u s of Di at e ct li of Enl i ght e nme nt are asmuch Benjamin's follow-

Lct us list Adomo's criiicisms as they emerge in his letters of

lu 15 l938.rtr (Some of ii was incorporated in the essay reproduced \
lrr'low, "The Fetish Character in Music. ''') The Critiismsili int tive
216 Estltetic Thcory and Cultural Criticism Itttt oluttion 2t7

groups: l. Adorno was very critical of Benjamin's "nondialectical" ownlate was violently
reception of Marxism. He oppofed Benjamin'i ofin titrnologicaliy of
rlraid too willingly
determinist reading of the relationship of culture and economic_ b-.a9e-, e()nsents industry. In
as well as the assumption that culture "copies" or "reflects'" the Atlorno's own view autonomous art, when it reflects on the contempo-
economic base directly. From almost the reverse point of view, trow- tttry crisis of cl)lnre-and nkelihe reduced fragments ol the preient
ever, Adorno felt that the concept of "dialectical image" had no ittt, its form principle, severs itself of all historical connection to , )
relationship to the existing social totality. Who is ihe iubject of th-e :rurhoritarian magic. To Adorno the autonomous works of the avant-
"d-ialecilcf imgtt h asked. Implicii in Adomo's argument is the 'rrrde meet both of Benjami demands: de-magicization lbut with-
position (abandoned in the 1940s) that the dialectical transitioin be- 'rrt rctlucing critical reas.nlislf i and advancd rechnique. They thus
yond bourgeois society is to be found in the point of view of the class rt'rrcsent a third term betweer, the modern culture industry and the
struggle and not in isolated individuals who dream, nor in an "ar- ,.rrr'rassed rrail
u-ltl-noilce thai Ailorn refses t apply in
chaicizing" collective"2 memory. 2. Adomo was extremely critical of tlti context a oncept of de-magicization to individual
what he took to be the anarchist romanticism of Benjamin and Brecht, ',1nthesis. But for a rxist the defense o eri. I
i.e., "the blind confidence in the spontaneous power of the proletariat I
in the historical process. " In rnaking this criticism Adorno mobilized t orlcxt
orlcxf Adorno uti
Arlornn rrfi oTT^-., concept
alles1y -^^i-^+ L^
^^^^+ against the
in the name of revolutionary intellectuals 's cri- t'sis of
tlt'sis thedetline
thedetline plif
p1f tne ailegoryslvia;
tique of "spontaneism" and the almost-li qcq of ,rrr( )nomous
works from the charge of magical residue. The use of the
Il{tory an-ilCtasiConsciousnss. He spoke of "the actual conscious- *n(cpt allowed Adorno, in the footsteps of Benjamin, to construe
ness of actual workers, who have absolutely no advantage ov(:r the ',,,rrc modernist works as critiques of the present. But he
'lr,,r fe_Lgulced
bourgeois except their interest in revolution, but otherwise bear dll the jirnrin' . Ador inally
I rating tlrosc tcch Brecht , con_
iyely, ,.rr lt.rt.d
cri unless es are
The rrl('gtirtcd in the most rigorous, advanced esthetic totality, as in the
ailficlt ra f fllms, moni tars, eTc., i-nl mere ddendu'm but , ,r',(' ol Kafka and Schnberg. In particular, distracted, segmented,
iFttrmmoificti f the fo.-s themlves, wlich develops lr,r,rncnted re y in
niod3 of
on the [artT audiences and introject the commodi- rlrt "lictish in and
ty fetish into their psychic structure, reducing them to mere consLlmers l,'l,rlitrtion. rel tion- -

of cultural commodities. Passivity or totally manipulated and con- ,,1 tt t. to his critique of Benjamin and Brecht: the presence of some
trolled response is the aim. as i advertisement, and Adorno believes rrrl\,rt(ed elements (shock, montage, collective tecn_
{. tne aim is usuliy achived. Adorno's "Fetish Character in Mursic," rrrrlrl,i. reprodirtih) does not validate the ,. rn.s-l
which was meant, as we have sai, partly as a reply to'Benjamin's rrtr( l(' lrguinst Brecht ("On Commitment,.' below. will extend this
thesis on mechanical reproduction, explores both the objective and l'.ililrclt even in the case of an artist whose greatness he recognized.
subjective sides of fhe culture industry andwedonothavetorepeatits
thesis. The essay rprents brilliant extension of Lukcs's concept
of reification i the dirciiln oT ihe tudy of cuitur,"0 and, th,rrefore
te mbilization of almost classical Marxist arguments versus Benja-
min. 'lte crltu-re-indusiiy inded represents for'Adro ihe tendency
I-wai the oufheb,ulgl_ ef art-bur it is a faise and manipula- r trlrrrr', Atlorno uhderstood the authoritarian implicatis of the
tive abolition in mass cqlturg/'' 4. Adorno accepted, defendled and r,lr( ('l)t .l "the masses" so rell that he refused to derive any clues
eventually extended Ben jam-rn's use of Weber's concept of de-rnagici- Itrrr $,,',1 is colleCtlvely or communally accessible, at least immedi_
zation or disenchantment in the realm of culture. But anticipafing his rtlt Iy


liltroducton 2t9
2t8 Esthetic Theor' and Culturol Criticism
slrrcd. "rm While the proper goal of autonomous art is the restoration of
krst esthetic capacities, art paradoxically is able to resist the reality
lhat destroys its potential audience only by even gre,ater _es-otericiza-
tion. This is the antinomy of modern art.
In Kantian laiiguage an antinomy is the duality between equally
ttcfcnsible but opposite theoreticai arguments. It is the concept of
rurlinomy that after all reunifies the projects of Adorno and Benjamin.
l both of -thii-cases the antinomy of culture blocked the way to
\ystematic philosophy. Forboth of them in the end only the essay form
rrlkrwed the maintenance of contradictions without spurious harmony
rrrrd yet in a common field. Whether to save the posture of uncom-
rromising critique even at the cost of privatization, or to save the
re lationship of at and theory to a mass audience even if critique is

rru tly compromised-this was the bad altemative which neither could
.,;rtisfactorily resolve. The opposition penetrates into the works of both
Arkrrno and Benjamin, and yet they are ultimately at its two poles. The
r.r ork of each is the oly corrective for that of the other. They are the_
' 'torn
halves of an integral freedom, to which however they do not add )

Alternatives In Esthetic Theory

l lrc subjectto which arf appeals, is socially anonymous at fhe present
trrrrc. (Marcuse)

llnchantment disappears when it tries to settle down. (Adorno)

A crucial part of Adorno's esthetics, its utopian thrust, remained

l,rrie ly in thE bakground in his exchange with Benjamin. Rooted in
t l rt' t onception of at as a mode of cognition, it was a concern he shared

rost with Marcuse; both paid a degree of attention, therefore, to

'lornral" issues in the arts that made them highly suspect to more
ortlrotkrx Marxists. Not only did Adomo reject out of hand any
r',rlrt'tic potential of "socialist realism" or "littrature engage"
trrlrith mandated a content regardless of its formal mediation), but
lrlnc Marcuse, he gave a welght tothe so-called "subjectivefactor" as
tlrr' rr inciple of negation (drawing violent attacks from Lukcs, who
lrltrrt'rrtly equated formal concerns wittr Ud subjectivismlan with
220 Esthetit'Theory and Cultural Criti<'ism Iltttxluclion 221

bourgeois decadence) ancl elevated the radical rupture with

cny status Itle alist residues in Marx, such as his belief l an_L!q$g!_e_U LoJ_ of. 2x
to the iocial foimatlons to develop in a specifii*1o". "Esrhetics" once
quo,-the discontinuity with anything merely given, represent
nrcanf theory of perception, and when the term assumed its present
very "logic of modem ar
ttrcuning, it became perception "disinterested" in the (pseudoobjec-
For critical theorists, 9-9Jy Y1s-,very
much part of its content, on subjective live) "interests' "Ev
and frmal dimensions In societies rtrrrrcthing indiv 'and
term Adorno lry virtue of its
thoroughlY It is well
have become that
coined), wh
al altematives Mirrcuse relentlessly opposed "bad subjectivism", i.e. the particular
total life for ;'unmediatetl"-pposiiion
llr irbstract, to th (eaually illusory; objec-
tivc or generaf ;f media-
liot," as Adorno formulated in "Subject and Object" (in this
v o u Ic) : it ii t tiansiruIntalTrm, IiIeiaIIy thlerms in which the
olr jcctive/general fprs to-us.-s subjectivity coincides wirh
llrc concept of technique in the arts; "technique is the very essence of
Ilcrliation."r2T The "esthetic principle of individuation" that Adorno
l*r'rt invoking means the directive for the artist to devise altemative
fnttrs rf objects, trial objects, or counterrealities through alternative
Ilrrrsccndental ideas which retrieve the previously invisible, ignored
ur \tl)pressed, but concrete potentialities of given historical situa-
igenl hierarchy which relentlessly demands responsibility on irs Iitntr.
'l'his is why an "advanced consciousness" is not something the
teins, irresporriiuitity alone is capable of calling the hierarchy by its
propef nalne,"r23 Adorno charged'
ilrlist nray or m-ay ot have,-i ibmthing whih essentially does not
Hflce t his/her cieativity; iflle Sil qua'nn T ttie1ic *t ;
The thrust of this argument lerives from the later Frankfurt
llrrrrlion where the otni of consciousness tends increasingly to be
School's, especiallY
L^+^-aanmr " kinde rrrlorrrrcd. "Problems in the theory of knowledge reemerge im.
r, more niurlntdy in esthetics; how the latter can interpret its objects depends
the place of older, more "immediate' llr llrc concepts of there objects developed in the former,"'28 Adorno
alled at least for opposition in thought)' Exchange rationality ttltt'lrrtlr:rl inhis Esthetic Theory; similarly, Marcuse postulated that
(reification) and administrative rationality, the prevalent contempo- i
ilt lrorrltl become "gemdlte oder modeTi rte ErkiiniliisTiiil:-in
rarvformsofreason,areformsofinstrumentalreasonwhichreduce lhe lutrsc of this process, the artist has to work with given materials
Bflrl rtrclnings, and thus'must know them thoroughty if he/she wants to
vrrirl rrrcrely reproducing bad otjectivi .-Mutatis mutanditL the
6utr, ltolds for the audience: "If you do not kn, hi you le seing
Ot ltltu irrg, you are not enjoying an 'immedi{"lfgtetigl l_o__Qq Uq_{qf

"the useless alone represents what at one point might become the Itl , yorr are simple incapable of perceiving it. Consciousness is not a
ul, the happy use : contact with things beyond the antithesis of use
lyer irr l hierarchy, superimposed on perception; but all moments of
and uselessnis."'- Where reason has lost the capacity for e ertlrctic expeiinces are reciprocal."rD
transcendence and even the capacity to perceive this as a loss' alterna-
tives have to be conceived from (what looks like) the outside.
Philosophically, this conclttsion also entails tl-"-filelgi:li::."t :f-1!,"--
Esrhetic Theor and Cultural Criticism Introduction 22i

ance is false in itself Iar sich]" .tttToOe sure, the meaning of "form"
is not always clear in either Adorno or Macuse: style, idion, tone,
strictly technical devices, or configuration in general all occur under
the heading "form. " Moreover, Adorno's correlations of formal and
stylistic levels with social meanings are often highly idiosyncratic,
lrowever suggestive. The seemingly self-evident nature of some of
the very lhcse correlations should instead be reason for suspicion, and should
have to use collective, general terms, thereby eliminating
itself become a topic for investigation. E.g., "Pale and faded is the
light over his [Stifter's] mature prose, as if it were allergic to the
lnppiness of color. "rr Whether these analogies hold is a matter for )
tliscussion. Yet, more often than not, they reveal striking formal and
cvcn terminological similaities between esthetic and social spheres
irrrd illustrate how form, i.e. subjective mediation, is at the same time
tlc "locus of social content."r3e
And whereas the fetishization of art would, on the whole, fall
rnclcr the general critique i ftidnism, it is precisely the fact that art is
cxcmpt qL_ol+&txis which permits ir to .,
lre u tria sure, society protects itself from
r lrc ' 'subvrs[ve loteai'l-f art by creating a Epecil Sph-ei1r it In
wlich if is r[efqqajglqrpmouiffit so, iFefoie, socilfiirelev-
urt. While society can thus safely, and even justly,, this
lct ishization is also the social protecfion of such a qualitative enclave.
l'lc artist must not share in the fetishization, but must avail him/her-
,,t'll of i. The "Social of art, therefore, always 1
rrct'tls dual refelction: Frsichsein, and on its /
rt'llrtion to soceity."'4o ond the constraint of im- '
r rt'rliate application to the very reality it is to transcend. Marcuse fully
,rirccd when he called for a kind of "second [voluntary] alienation"]
l r o r l he " established relity. " trt Given the objectivity of the latter, its

trur\ccndence is always subjective, and will thus remain a form of

rrlrt'nrrlion, of productive alienation, unless the "impossible final
lrrrty of subject and object"ta2 occurs.
Marcuse had once envisaged the possibility of an Aufhebung of.
I tluough its concrete realization. ln Eros and Civilization, and as
l,u ly irs "The Affirmative of Culture" in 1937, and still it Essay on
I tl,tnttion (1969), he projected the altemative world of harmony,
rrrrrrlic1rr, playfulness, lrdppines nd liberation of mintl and
',r'rrst's which would make life itself "esthefic."'43 Since Counterre-
t ttlut(),t and Revolt however, Marcuse too has reaffirmed the dialect-
lur('tion of art as immanenl transcendence,s ttre iitic wedge in
r, rrl

'rr\ lx)(ly politic. "At the optimum, we can envisage a universe

Esthetic Theor' antl CuLtural Criticisnt

common to art and reality, but in this counon universe, art would
' retain its transcendence."t4 Authentic art, i'e. qualitative transcend-
ence of experiences homogenized by the culture industry, is not tied to
a specific movement or social stratum. Proletarian art is not inherently
more progressive than any other: "if such transcendence is an essen- Eduard Fuchs:
tial quality of all art, it follows that the goals of the revolution may find
expression in bourgeois art, and in all forms of art'"ras Collector and Historian
Much more than Adorno, Marcuse was willing to specify what
the esthetic JenrlUitity would entail in terms of attitudes ard social
relationi. He phasird t. liberation of the senses and, at times,
plead f_or go_ncre [t-9P]91_{9t-s even in By Walter Benjamin; anlogou a rnoment only) to see
suctr aniiCipaiion i a nmber'of movements of the 1960's. Via the
conceptilbi ms of objects or counterrealities, art can
try out new m ns to objects as well, including different
needs, drives, sensibilities.
Although .A.dorno clearly put more weight on consciousness and
theory as esthetic f unclions than ditl Marcusc. their views do convcrge
t rt :r tublished inZeitschrift fr Sozialforschung Vol. VI ( 1937)1,
on the rational status of imagination-a statis it had held since Aristo-
tle. Imaglnio piafes coniciously as the "covetous anticipation"
r It, r's so' doCuments Benjamin'.s particulor atfitude toward lhe pa st,
or creation of alternatives, not a,s var,iations,Brefinements. but in l', r : i tg o tt the spec ial detail to be p re se rved t'o r a p roj e c te d t'utu re.
t t

t t i tt c re st is not in Eduard Fu c hs, a relativ e ly i ns ignit'ica nt S ocia I

terms of qualitatively new values and gogls. In this sense, art was a
t t

I , tttttt ratic intellectual, but in Benjamin's penetration precisel'of

social force of production for critical theorists. The "formal princi-
ple" of art is thus "the New" pe.r :e, a category in its own right for t 1,,, ,
"' i n s i g nificant " e ve nts, p roduct s and I i ves that ruptu rc th e
ntittttum of cultural development called "progress. " Linear

1,,,':t,'ss for Benjamin could only ba that of dominarion.

I trt tltr'rfttor, the presentationof Fuchs, thc collcctorattdot'tatrcrudc
t .tttt it (tl materialis, must also be read as onc of Benjamin's
and e vur asart apologiapro vita sua itt thc t'att ol
of any particular ,,1,,,,:,)rr,r,o,rons,
preventing the enshrinement (and repetition)
heteronomy. Its subiect tfoiBenjamin .the flneur) does not yet exist,
but is anticipated in the autonomous esthetic act. Hence the resent-
llr, ri :rc
nrany kinds of collectors and each of thenr is ruovcd b) a
by oithodox Marxism ancl bourgeois culture of impulses. As a collector Fuchs is primarily a pioneer. Hc
,,,,rlr rtrrlc
-)nenl againt mdernism r,,rrr,lr'tl the only existing archivc fclr the history ol caricature, o[
'-.. alike: thy righlly expeiience it as a cisis ("decadence") and attack it
,,rrr rut and of the genre picture (Sittenbild). More important,
for being "a qualitative ctegory, not a chronological one. "ra6 Fond of
I r,,, r \ t'r, is another, complementary, circurnstance : because he was a
' invoking Rimbaud's dictum "il faut tre absolument moderne,
"Adorno insisted that modernism was both a moral and (thus) esthetic t,,,,r( ( r . Iiuchs became a collector. Fuchs is the pioneer of a material-
, r , ,,nsrtlcration of art. What made this materialist a collector, hor,i
imperative as Iong as any given reality is not "reconciled" with its
, r rrrs Ihe more or less clear feeling for thc historical situation in
own possibilities.
lr, lr lrt srru himself . This was thc situation of historical nlaterialisnr
," ll

I )pposrt!g_r,t.

9. Negativc Dialectics, p 367.

10. Prisms, p 33.

I l. Cf . "Authority and the Family."

I2. Cf. "Art and Mass Culture" in Critical Theory.

13. Cf. "Affirmative Culture" and "Philosophy and Critical Theory," both in
Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism
l. Cf . Horkheimer, "Authority and the Family" ( 1936) in CriricalTheory, pp. 52ff ;
Marcuse, "AffirmativeCulture" (1937) inNegations, pp.88ff Horkheimer'sessayis
perhaps the only Frankfurt treatise that ostensibly focuses on the more general concept 14. Karl Marx, trans, M Nicolaus (London: Penguin, 1973) pp. t58ff.;
. of culture. Yet almost imperceptibly, as he begins to discuss the role of culure in ,r 47lff
mediating power and domination, he shifrs to aconceptualization of "high culture" and
an intermediate category of belief system, institutionalized and psychically introjected
(pp. s9ff). 15. Grundrissc, p. 487.

2.Cf . Die Philosophic desGeldes 6th ed. (Berlin: DunckerandHumblot, 1958)and 16. Ibid., p. r58.
the vaious essays collected in On Individualit,and Social Forms, ed. D. Levine
(Chicago: U. of ChicagoPress, l97l) andinTheConflictof ModernCulture,ed.P. 17. For an analysis of Marx's concept of community we rely on the work of Lukacs's
Etzkorn (New Yok: Teachers College Press, 1968). On the development of Simmel's ',ru(lcnts, the "Budapest School," and especially on the writings of Agnes Heller,
culture concept cf A. Arato, "The Neo-Idealist Defense of Subjectivity," Ielos (St. I ( rcnc Feher, and Gyrgy Makus. Cf . for example A. Heller, "Towards a Marxian
Louis, Fall 19'74) XXl. I lreory of Value," Klresis (Fall 1972), "The Mxian Theory of Revolution," Telos
t I rrf l I 970) VI; Gyrgy Markus, "Human Essence and Histor y ," International lournal

,'l .Sociology (Spring 1975);andFerencFeher,''lstheNovelProblematic?'' Telos(St

3. The orthodox l{egelian side of Simmel is as we have said not expressed consistent-
ly LrLris, Spring 1973) XV.
Because for him all cultural activity is objectification (which he identified with
alienation) the individual subjects of the "great forms" ue themselves alienated from
their products. Only a metaphysically construed "life" in general is in dynamic tl. The most important English language studies of Max Weber are in our opinion the
barmony with its objectified forms. rr orks of Ben.jamin Nelson. Cf . his latest "On Orient and Occident in Max Weber" in
\,t ial Research (New York, Spring 1976) XLIII and especially "Max Weber's
/\urhor's lntroduction," Sociologicol Inqniry (New York, 1974) XLIV, andWolfgang
4. K Marx and F Engels, The German ldeology (New York: International Pub-
Itlrrrrrmsen, The Age of Bureaucracy (New York, Harper and Row., 1974). On the
lishers, 1947), pp 2O 23.
rr l;rtionship of Max and Weber see Mommsen; the still-important article by Karl
lrrwi[, "1* Weber and Karl Marx," Archiv Fr SozialwissenschaJt undSozial-
5. Ibid . , p. 40 and passim . Marx derived this particular argument from his analysis of ',,lirik (1932) LXVII; Jean Cohen, "Max Weber and the Dynamics of Rationalized
the French Revolution and its aftermath lr,,nination," Ielos (St. Louis, Winer 1972) XIY; and Arato, "The Neo-Idealist
I r lense of Subjectivity."

6. W. Benjamin, "Eduad Fuchs: Collector and Historian" in this volume.

19- Vid. Cohen, op. cit., pp.65-6ff.
7. T. W Adorno, Negativ,e Dialectics trans. E.B. Ashton (New York: Seabury
Press, 1973), p. 367. reply to Sombart, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New
2(1. Cf . his
\r,rk: Scribner's, 1958), where he stresses all the historical asymmetries and irre-
,rrl;rrilies of the rationalization of the different spheres of life.
Prums (London: Neville Spearman,

318 Esthetic Thcor and CuLturul Criticism 319

21. Cf. Nelson, "Orient and Occident" p ll7ff. Weber stresses furthermore that -16. On this cf . the important (originally l9l9) essay io Historond Class Ctnstious-
irrational inspirations of the Prolestant ethic were themselves eventually sacrificed to ,r's: "The Changing of Function of Historical MatcriLlism "
de magicization.

.17. The lasl lwo sentences represent the lone of Lukcs's rcconstucled article of
l()12 md not lhe original of 1919. The original, written during the Hunganan
Soviet Republic, far harsher against orthodoxy and even Marx himself, expresses the
lrelicf that the tirne of the self-critique (not "revision") of historical materialisnr has
,u rived.
23. Cf. Cohen, op.cir., p. 71.
.lll.OnLukcs'sconceptofmediationinrelationtoHcgelcf Arato,"Lukcs'Theory
24. Cf Adorno, "Kultur and Verwaltung" in Gesommelrc SchriJten VIII (Frank- ,'l ltcification." p 29f: p 5lf.
furt/M: Suhrkarnp Y erlag, 1972).
.I). Cf Alfred Schmidt, "Die 'Zeitschrift fr Sozialforschung', Ceschichre und
25. A Modern Drma Fejldsnek Trtnctc (The History of the Development of 'r ,enwrtige Bedeutung" in Zur ldee der Kritischen Theorie (Hanser Mnchen,
Modern Drama) (Budapest: Franklin, l9l1) cf. Arato, "The Search for the Revolu- l'r7-1), pp. 87- 107.
tionarySubject:ThePhilosophyandSocialTheoryoftheYoungLukcs, l9l0-1923"
unp. PhD dissertation (University of Chicago, 1975), pp. \37ff. .10. T W Adorno, Introduction to the So(iolog)'t[ Music, trans by E B. Ashron
tNtw York: Seabury, 1976), pp. 198 200.
26.Seechapter5of thel9ll S<.tulanrJFonnnowinEnglish(London: MerlinPress,
t974) .ll. TheodorW Adorno, Philosoph, of Modcrn Music, rrans by A C. Mitchell and
\\ \' Blomster (New York: Seabury, 1973),p.26.
27. Though many aspects of the concept of reification were present in Lukcs's pre-
Marxist work, here we wil focus only on the 1922 essay on the topic it Histor) and .t2. Ibid.
Class Consciousrss. For further details cf. Arato, "Lukcs' Theory of Reification,"
Ielos, (Spring \972) Xl.
,.1. Quoted by Crenz, op. cit., p. 53

28. Cf. Marx, Capilal I (New York: lnternational Publishers, 1967), p.7oft.
,11. PlilLosophy of Modern Music, pp 27-28.
29. In this context he utilzed Marx's analysis of manufacture and machinery in
Copital I as well as Weber's analysis of legal, bureaucratic domination. ,l. lrcrencFeher, "NegativePhilosophyof Music-P<sitiveResults," Nc,Gcnnon
t rtttlu( (Milwaukee, Winter 1975) IV.
30. History and Class Cr.tnsciousncss, p.88. ,lt. ,\'ltgatitc Dialectics, part fII, chapter 2 (on Hegel).

31. Marx, Capital ,Ip39. .17. l\ isms, p. 32.

32. On this cf . Arato, "Lukcs' Theory of Reification," pp. 57ff.

,ltt. I hc first essay in Prisms, originally published in 195 l.
33. On this cf. Merleau-Ponty, The Adt'entures ol the Dialectic (Evanston: North.
,ff) lorAdorno'sownreconstruction,cf."ldeology"inAspectsolSo(iolo$,,rans.
western University Press, 1973).
I \I Vrertel (Boston: Beacon, 1972), chapter 12. While Adorno is not indicated as the
nrlor . volume VlIl of his Gesammelte Schrilten (Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp, 1972)
34. Cf. F. Crenz, Adorn<s Philosophie in Crundbegriflen (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, ' l ,rr., ul) the Confusion.
'1914), chapter 2.

tll. l or the various meanings of critique of ideology in Marx, cf. Jean Cohen's
35. Cf H. Paetzoldt, Neo-Marxistische Aesthetik (Dusseldorf : Schwann Verla, l, ,r tlrt orr in! (New School) unpublished dissertation, "The Crisis of Class Analysis in
1974) v.1., p.149. I,'1, ( itl)itliSm."
Notes 35t
350 Esthetic Theor' and Cultural Criticisn

67. Prisms, p. 3l f. and see alsoJrgen Habermas, Theory and Practice (Boston:
51. "Ideology" in Aspects of Sociology, pp. 188-189. Beacon Press, 1913), p.241.

52.Ibid,p. l99.AswehaveseenattheendofthelntroductiontoPatl,thesplitintho 68. Habermas, Theory and Practice, p.241.

structure of ideology need not be explained by the interpretation of Adomo himself and
Macuse (One-Dimensional Man\, both sharing the view of a homogenization or ono.
dimensionalization of culture. It can be explained by the transformation of the institu.
tional context of politically organized late capitalism (Pollock ad Habermas). Tho
latter explanation is the only one which can ground the hope of a future-oriented
politics. It too, however, surrenders the Lukcsian-early-Frankfurt notion of a unified
ideology critique.
70.Adorno,"ZurGesellschaftlicheLagederMwik," ZeitschriftfrSoiaforschung
(Frarkfurt, 1932) I, p.105.
53. "Ideology" in Aspects ol Sociolog', p. 189.
71. Cf. Habermas, Theory and Practice, p.2O3.
54. Ibid, p. 198. Definitions (l) and (2) are closely relaed, but they do begin lo
diverge once (3) is introduced.
72. Cf. Horkheimer, "Authority and the Family."

55. "Ideology" in Aspects of Sociolog, pp. 190-191. Also cf. Prisms, p. 34.
73. Cf. Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Theory."

56. Cl. Prisms, p. 31, where Adomo interprets our (l) under (3).
74. Cf. Macuse, "Philosophy and Critical Theory" io Negations.

57. The world explored by social science was seen by Adorno as fundamentally
undynamic because he identified it in advance as the administered world of contempo. l30ff. On this point cf. the important
rary bureaucracy and the culture industry. l()72 essay by oder rettende Kritik-Der Aktualill

SE. Negatir.'e Dialectics, pp. 365 ff.; Philosoph'of ModernMusic,pp.24-28,and

especially "Cultural Criticism and Society" passim Prisms. 76. Prisms , p. 32. That Adorno saw astonishingly clearly in this regard is revealed by
I r o statements from Lukcs that refer to the desirability of the destrucrion of bourgeois
, r rlture by barbarians, so that a new culture can be built. The first statement was repeated
59. Philosophy of Modern Music, pp. 26-27. rrr the period of 1909-1910 when Lukcs slowly gave up the hope that the proletariat
rould represent this "new babarism." In the 1930s however in a conversation it was
ex:rctly in these terms that he defended Soviet culture. For the references cf. Arato,
60. Introduction to the Sociolo$' ol Music, pp.2O9-210. "l.ukcs' Life and Works" (forthcoming, Urizen Press).

61. Prisms, pp.27-28. 77. Adorno, Asthetische Theorie, p. 374. Marcuse's mosr radical revision of this
t icular position of his yis-d- vis autonomous arr took place after the publication of this

r rticism, in Counterrevolution and Revoh (Boston: Beacon, 1973), pp.92-93. With

62. Ibd., pp.32-33. r( \l)cct to the "abolition" of philosophy cf . Karel Kosik's

63. Ibid., pp.25-29.

@. Ibid., pp.30-31. 7ll. Cf . Habermas, "Bewusstmachende oder Rertende Kritik," p. 312, where on the
l',rrrs of Benjamin's definition of criticism in his early book on the baroque Habermas
s r r tos: "critique exercises mortification only in order to transpose that which is worthy
65. Ibid., p.28. ,l knowledge from the medium of the beautiful into the medium of the true-and
tlrcrcby to save it. " Habermas compaes Macuse's and Benjamin's notions of critique
rrr rlctail, op. cil., pp.305-311.
66. Ibid. , p. 33
Estlrctic Thrcr and Cultural Criicism 3s3

79. Cf . H Arendt, "Walter Benjamin: 1892-1940," introduclion to Benjamin's ')-1. Cf.

"The Work of Art in rhe Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (should be "its
Illuminations (New York: Schcrcken, 1969), pp 44-45. This introduction is useful if lrlcchanical Reproducibility") in llluminarion.s, bul also rhe srudies "The Storytcllcr"
one divcsts it of Arendt's unnecessary attemp to link Benjamin to her own tradition, ,rrtl "Some Motifs in Baudelaire" in the same volume.
coming from Heidegger Also cf Bernd Witte, "Benjamin and Lukcs," New German
Critiquc (Milwaukee, Spring 1975) V. f){. AII thrce ess ay s in III um i nations The f irst essay as well rwo orher ( I 93_5 and I 938)
r crsitns of the third available i Charles Baudelaire: A L'ric Poet in rhe Era oJ High
80. Our whole discussion of Benjamin below is heavily indebted to Sandor Radnoti's t rtpitalism (London: New Left Books, I973), brought on the severe criticism of
unpublished Hungarian monograph "Credo and Resignation: Esthetic-Political Study ,\rlrrrno, now available in English: "Letters to Walter Benjamin," New,Left Rcview
., t
on Walter Benjamin. " The first chapter of this work on Bloch and Lukcs is available in r \( l)tcmber-October I973) LXXXI Furthermore Adorno's "Fetish Characrer of Music

Telos(St Louis,Fall 1975)XXV Thesecondchapter,onBenjamin'searlyesthetics, ,rrrtl lhe Regrcssion of Listening" ( l9-j8) reproduced below, was in part composed as an
n 1977 in International JournaL ol Sociology.
is forthcoming ,Ir\wcr to Benjamin's "Work of Art" essay

81. Arendt, op. cit., p. 45; Habermas, op. cir., p. 312. t)5. ILluminatiotrs, pp, 228 230; pp. 238-240

82. Adorno, Prisms,p. e6. Ibid , pp 223-224.

83. Arendt, op. cit., pp. 4-5 and especially her ranslaion of a short section of tl7. Charlc.s Baudcluirc, p I 13
Benjamin's essay on Goethe's Wahlverwandschalten.
t,H. Ibid , p. 1.18
Prisms, pp. 231-233
tltl. Cf . Illuminatiotts, p. 231 .

85. As Adorno well knew, cf ., e.g , Prisms, p.236.

llX). Cf Radnoti, op. (it., p -50; Paetzoldt, op. cit, p l0-j; Gadamer, op. cit.,
86. Ibid ,p 233. , tlr lror Benjarnin's own argurnenl cf . Ur.sprung des deutschen Trauer.spiel.s,pp
'lr ' lo4
87. The antinomic nature of Benjamin's conception of "dialectic" is best worked out llll. Ci Ai Estltikum Sajrossga (On thc Uniquenes ol Esthctics) (Budapest:
by Radnoti in chapter 4 of "Crcdo and Resignation." \l,rrlerrria, I965)andalsothecruderformof fhisargumentinRealisminOurTimepp.
lr I I I Adorno's f irsr response to Benjamin's studies of Baudelaire is rather close to this

88. On this point cf. two 1936 essays of Hokheimer: "Authority and Family" in rrrrrlrlutcrintcrprctationofLukcs Thecontmonlink:thcconceptofmcdirtiondrawn
Criticttl Thcor and "Egoismus und Freihcitsbcwegung" in Krilsche Theorie der tr,'|t Ili:tor) and Cluss Contciousness.
Gcsellschalt, volun.rc II
lll.! ('l Thcor and Prottcc, p 241. In his later essay on Benjamin, Habcrmas
Marcuse, "The Struggle Against Liberalism."
,r, 'L rl not Bcnjantin's thcorctical contribLrlions lo undclstanding utodernisnt but his
r,,1, rrrrlive critical attitude toward works of the past

90. Bcnjamin, UrspnatgdcsdeutschenTrauerspiels (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp,1972). I

am rclying in this context on Radnoti's "Credo and Resignation"; also cf. Paetzoldl, lllt. ('l Pucr;oldr, p l l0
Neo-Muristischc Aesthctik I; Jameson, Marrism and Form (Princeton: Princeton
Unirersity Pcss, l97l); and Lukcs, "The Ideology of Modemism" inReolisminour lll.l tl ChurltsBuudcluirc,p l13.
Tiz (New York: Harper and Row, 1964) On the distinction between allegory and
symbol as esthetic prnciples cf . Cadrmer, Truth and Method (New York: Seabury
Press, I975), pp. 63-73. Int ,, , p. l-54

91. Jameson, Narxisttt and Fornt, p.7l ltt/r ( lttrfus Buudelairc, p 159; pp ll0-176.

92. CT op. tit. , p. 1l lll/ ( l ''The Author as Producer" below

F$f- 355
354 Esrhec Theory and Cukural Criticisn

108, Ibid ll.l.TheodorW.Adorno, AcsthetischeTheorie,iGesammelteSchrilten(Frankfurt:

''rrlrrkamp, 1970), Vol. Vtl, p. 336 Cf also: ". . theuselessrepresentstheatrophied
urt School's decisive rejection of rr,,e value." (p. 317)
1(D. On this important point that also dates the Frankf

ll5. Theodor W Adomo, "Funktionalismus heute" Ohn Leitbiltl Purva Acsthe ti-
,,/. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1967) p 124

nt in "historical materialism"' I 16. Theodor W Adorno, "Erpressle Vershnung" it Nocn ur Literatur,Yol. ll, p
ll0, Cf . Paetzoldt, ttP. cit., P 149'
ll7.'fheodorW Adorno, "OhneLeitbild" inOhneLeitbild ParvuAesthetica,p 18.

llf . Cf . "Letters to Walter Benjamin"' l.!11. Theodor W. Adorno, Acsthctische Thcorie, p.493.

112. Cf. Ra hich interPretationof

lle. Ibid , p. 502.
rhe present 9::i
t t0. 'fheodor W. Adorno, "Kunst und die Kiinste" in Ohne Laitbild. Parva Aesthati-
Bnjamin's , ,r . r 180.

untl Class Conscitusnctt

l13. Adorno, "Letters,'- pp 65-67' cf' Lukcs' Histor' I tI . llerbert Marcuse, "Zum Begriff der Negation in der Dialektik" in Idcctt :u cincr
("Reification" Pail III). \itrhen Theorie der Cesellschat't (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1969), p 186

A Schmidt, "Die Zeitschrift fr Sozialforschung'"

p' 87ff; p' 92ft' I l:. fheodor W. Adorno, Aesthatische Theorie, p 263.

115. Cf. Paetzoldt, op. ct',pp t75ff; Habermas' "Bewusstmachende oder rettendo It r. Ibid.
Kritik," pP 3l7ff
I Il. lbid., p 264
116. Habermas, oP. cit , PP 320-321

I I t5. I lcrbert Marcuse, Counlarrevoluion and Rcvolt (Boston: Beacon Press, I972), p.
117. Adorno, "Letlers," PP' 70ff' l(l\

l18. Ct. Habermas, Legitimation Crisis' pp' 85-86' I to. lbid , p. 87.

r" n Introduction to the Socobgl

f 19. Cf . especiatly 'The Types of Musical Conduc I t7. I'heodor W. Adorno, "Engagement" in Noten zur Literatur, Vol. lll (Frankfurt:
oJ Music. ',rrlrrkirmp, 1965), p. l2l. ("Commitment" in this volunre.)
1973)'pp' l8-20 Cf' |il.
l20.Adorno, Phitttsoph'olModernMusic(NewYork:Seabury' I f heodor W. Adorno, Acsthetischa Theoria, p. 346.
"Arr and Mass Culture" in Critical Theor'' p' 29O'
I tt). lbid-, p. 342.
l2l. "Lerters to Benjamin," P 66

H' Mayl l.ll) Ihid,p -337.

;ur Aashetik 1967-68 (Zrich:
122. Theodor W. Adorno, Vttrlcsungctt
Nachfolger, 1973)' P. 19.
I ll. I lcrbert Marcuse, Countcrrrolution and Rcvolt, p. 97.

123. Theodor W. Adorno, Mi ni ma Moralia (London : New Lef t Books, l 974), No. 4 l .

l,ll. lbid , p. 108

3s6 Eshctit' Theor und Cultural Criticism Notc.t 357

143. Ct Hcrbcrt Marcuse, Ens und Civili"rtion (New York: Vintage, I962), p 159 8. Nietzsche wrole as early as 1874: "Finally.. there results the generally ac-
claimed 'popularization' . . . in sciencc. This is thc nottrious tailoring of science's coal
lor the figure of a 'mixed public,' io use a tailor-like activity for a tailor-like Cerman
144. Herbcrt Marcuse, Coutucrrctolution und Ret'olt, p ll2 (sic !).' ' Friedrich N ietzsche, "Vom Nurzen und Nchteil der Historie f r das l-eben, "
Un;eitgemiisse Bcrrachrungen. I (Leipzig,1893), p. 168.
145. tbid ,p t21
9. "A cultural historian who takes his task seriously must always write for the
146. Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Morulia, p l.40. n)rsses," Erotischc Kunst, 2, Part One, Preface.

10. C. Korn, "Proletariaf und Klassik," Die Ncut Zt'i, 26:2 (Stuttgart, 1908),414-
Eduard Fuchs: Collector and Historian )17.
l. Quoted in Custav Mayer, Friedrich Engels, Yol 2, Fricdrith Engels und der
Aulsrieg der Arbeiterbewegung in Europa (Berlin), pp- 450-45 I ll. SeeAugustBebel,DieFrauunddcrSoialismus (Stuttgart, l89l),pp 117-179,
lnd pp. 333-336, on lhe changes in housekeeping through lechnoogy, pp. 200 201 on
woman as lnventor.
2. This thought appears in the earliest studies on Feuerbach and is expressed by Marx
as follows: "There is no history of politics, of law, of sciencc . . of ar1, of religion,
etc" Marx-EngcLsArchit',l,Ed.DavidRiazanov(FrankfurtamMain, t928),301, 12. Quoted in D. Bach, "John Ruskin," Die Neue Zeit, l8: 1 (Stuttgart, 1 900), 728

l -1. This deceptive element found characteristic expression in Alfred Weber's welcom-
3. lt is the dialectical construct (Konstruktirn) which distinguishes that which is our rr rg uddress to the sociological conven tionof I 9l 2: ' 'Cultu re comes into exislence only
original concern in historical cxpcrience from thc pieced together findings of actuality. u'hcn life has become a structure which stands above its necessities and usefulness."
"That which is original (ursprngLith) never identifies itself in the naked, obvious I his concept of culture contains seeds of barbarism which have, in the meantime,
existence o[ the factual. The rhythm of the original opens itself solely to a doublc rerminated Culture appears as something "which is superfluous for the continued
insight This insight . . concerns the pre- and post history of the original " Walter ( \islence of life bul is felt to be precisely the reason for which life is there." In short,
Benjamin, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (Berlin, 1928), p 32. ( ullure exists after the fashion of an art work "which perhaps brings about lhe confusion
ol cntirc modes of Iiving and life principles, and which may have dissolving and
rlcstructive effects, but which we shall feel to be higher than everything healthy and
4. Erotischc Kunst, l, p. 70 I rr ing which it destroys. ' ' Twenty five years af ter this was said, ' 'cultural states' ' have

rt cn il as an honor to resemble such art works, even to be such art works. Alf red Weber,
5. Gavarni, p. l-3.
' 'I )cr soziologische Kulturbegriff
," Verhondlungcn dcs tweiten deutsthen Soiiologen
r,t.qt's: Schrilten der deutschen Cesellscltofr lr Soziologie, l: I (Tbingen, I9l3), I l-
. Fuchs's major works have been coUectcd and published by Albert Langen of
Munich as Harrl',rk These includc: Illustrierte Sittengeschichte vom Minelalter blt
.ur Gegen*'ort, Vol I: Rnaissance, Yol 2: Die galante Zei, Yol 3: Das brgcr. l{. Franz
liche Zeitaltcr, also supplementary Vols l-3 (here cited as Sittrngeschichte): Ge. l()(r.
schichte der crotischen Kunst, Yol. l'. Das zeitgeschichtliche Problem, Vol.2: Dal
individuelleProblem,PartOne,Yol 3:Dasindiv'iduelleProblem,PartTwo(herecitctl 15. Erotisthe Kunst, l, 125 Constanr reference to contcmporary art belongs to the
Karikalur der europischen VLker, Yol. l: Vom Altertu
as Erotische Kunst); Die
rrrosl inrporlart impulses of Fuchs the collector Contemporary arl, too, comes tohinr
2: Vom Jahre 1818 bis zum Vorabend des Welrkrieges (hcll
bis :um lahre 1848, Yo1.
l'.il lially through the great creations of the past His incomparable knowledge of older
cited as Korikaur); Honor Daumier: Holzschnitte und Lithographien, Yol. li i,rrerture epens Fuchs to ar early recognition of thc works of a Toulousc-Lautrec,
Hol:schnitte, Vols. 2-4; Lithographien (hcre cited s Daumier); Der MalerDaumiet; lltirrtfield and a George Crosz. His passion for Daumier leads him to fhe w'ork of
Garurni; Die Grosscn Meister dcr Erotik; Tang-Plasrik chinesische Grab-Keramik dOt \ogt, whose conception of Don Quixote appears before his eyes as lhe onl) one
7 -10. lahrhunderts: Dochreiter und t,er*'andte chinesische Keramik des 15.-lt "l(
rrlreh could hold its own beside Daumier His studies in ceramics gives him all lhe
Jahrhunderts. Aparl from these works, Fuchs dedicated special works to the caricatul .rrrtlrority to sponsor an Emil Pottner. All his life Fuchs had friendly rclatrons with
of u'ornan. of the Jews uld o[ the World War. ( r(,rtive artists. Thus, it is not surprising that his manner of addressing works of art
r Urqspod5 n]ore to the v"ays of an artist than those of a historian.

7. A. Max, "Zur Frage der Organisation dcs Proletariats tlcr lntelligenz," Dit
Zeit, l3 I (Stuttgarl, 1895),645 l(,. l'he master of iconographic reprcsentarion might be Emile Mle. His rescach is
368 Estltttic Thcor' and Cttltural Criicism

93. The Ring is Closed, P' l9l'

94. Chilr)ren ol rhe Age, PP 79-80'

95. Segrlloss Toun. P 331 '

96. The Women at the Pump' pp l4'1-145'

97. Ibid., p. 147; cf. Segelfoss Town' pp l0 and 2l '

A Critique of Methodology
98. M1'steries, P. 200.

99. Ibid, PP 187' 201.

rffi. Ibid , P 201 .

1;0l. The Last Jo', P 331

102. Msteries, P 49'

103. Hunger, toc. cit , P' 22

lO4. Redakteur Lynge, Getman translation e<t

by J' Sandmeier (Albert
Mnchen, 1922), P 3l
Critical Theory and the Philosophy of Science
105. Pan, P 157.
Science needs those who disobey it. (Theodor W. Adorno)
lO6, August, P 342-

The idea of radically eliminating the subject not only from

107. Wanderers, P 314
rlrysics, but also from the cognitive process generally . . . is itself a
L08.Ibid,P291. research postulate in need of legitimation. (Max Horkheimer)

L09. The Lasr JoY, P 311 '

A theory of society has to denronstrate the relativity/contingency
110. Rosa, P 99 rrr theknowledge of observable facts; vice versa, empirical research
lrrs to prevent the cognitive concept of a "law" from becoming a
ll1.. Wonderers, P 312
rrrl'thological concept. (Theodor W. Adorno)
tl2. Ibid, P 314
Neither reading nor experiencing are substitutes for thinking.
l\3. The Women ot the PunP, P' 138'
l'rrrc ernpiricism relates to thinking like eating relates to digesting and
,rrsi milating. (Arthur Schopenhauer)
ll4. Ibid,P 5.

Progress is leaving itself behind. (Max Horkheimer)

I t rs sheer nonsense to assert that critical theorists were anti-scientific.

(.)uitc to the contrary, the group relentlessly defended the sciences

rrliirilrst neo-romantic, spiritualist and idealist attacks-as well as
rlilrinst their positivistic reductions.' They rejected the aim of certain

372 A Critique of Methodology
Introduction jl3
"pseudo-sciences"2 to bypass empirical evidence in favor of sup-
existential questions, the scientistice claim to universal truth (or at
posed "essences" beyond all appearances, andemphatically support-
least to the proper method to attain it) necessarily involved existential
ed "the activity of science of incorporating events into more general
decisions; by becoming a model for ..rational" living, scientism and
contexts and comprising them under rules" as a "legitimate and
its technological rationality tended to become a total life-form, at the
useful business. Resistance against it in the name of freedom is a fight
expense of any other. Was there, perhaps, an ideological thrust to
against windmills. ' ', Horkheimer's insistence on ' 'unconditional em-
scientism after all? Its often merely formal concerns seemed to render
pirical stringency"o and the investigations of the Institute bear witness
that question irrelevant. critical theorists were not convinced. They
to their unwavering alliance with the sciences. Rather than retreat
took a close look at what they summarily grouped as . .positivisms' ,_
from them, critical theorists emphasized the need to keep abreast of
the most advanced positions in the vaious disciplines-both to use le of Carnap,
and to criticize them effectively. logical atom-
Yet "science and its intelpretation are two different things,"s beneath their
Horkheimer contended. In a series of seminal articles and reviews in
To be sure, critical theorists shared the distrust of mere metaphy_
the Zeitschrit, Horkheimer and Macuse challenged certain claims of
sics with logical positivists; what made the latter suspect, however, is
the contemporary philosophy of science (such as the programmatic
that they summarily dismissed as metaphysical anything transcending
universalism of a "unified science," or the tendential reduction of
their own approach. "Certainly science and metaphysics cannot b
science and philosophy to questions of methodology), some of the
considered equal branches of knowledge. To a large extent, science
self-images and supposed social functions of the scientific communi-
ty, certain political claims raised in the name of scientific progress
and, last but not least, the identification of scientific and technological
rationality with reason in general. To the extent that certain tacit
presuppositions in these concepts of science re-emerged as substan-
tive assertions of particular social theories (and even in entire research
programs), they equally criticized the practice of the established social
r,ethodological, substantive, linguistic or whatever as final and valid
a priori-i.e. exempt from historical modification-a viewpoinr or
But Horkheimer also repeatedly stressed that critical theory was
principle from which all else is derivative, itself seemed such a
not an alternative to "traditional"c theory and science; these werethp
rnetaphysical premise. such a "transhistorical and thus overextended
raw material, so to speak, of a critical science, its craftlike pre-
concept of truth seemed to derive from the idea ..of a pure non_
liminaries. "However intense the interaction between critical theory
c.ntingent infinite mind/reason, i.e. in the last analysis the idea of
and the special sciences-whose progress must remain the take-off ( iod. "r2 "Moreover,
point for critical theory . . . ---critical theory nowhere aims at the inge by opposing all achievements of thought which
lrrrve played crucial roles in human history with those it dicrees
increase of knowledge as such."? If there is any legitimacy to tho to
lr:rve been important, true and authentic, [logical empiricism] quite
claim of science being an aspect of autonomous reason, any science in
lrrlls out of its [self-declared] role as a tautology and itself turns out to
their view must also be its own metascience-it must know why it is
a subjective judgment."r: Logical empiricists, Horkheimer
lre . . .
doing what it is doing.
For "scientific procedure is never itself a
t hurged, "posit all forms of being as constanr [the same]. And yet this
guarantee of truth,"t and the progress of science, therefore, not
rsscrtion that the correct form of all knowledge is identical with
necessarily identical with human progress. (Such, however, wero
precisely the assumptions put forth by much of the contemporary rlrysics, and that physics is the great unified science under which all
sciences are to be subsumed-this assertion posits certain struc-
philosophy of science-into which philosophy in general seemed to 'rlcr
turcs as unchangeable and thus represents a judgment a prior!.,,u
get increasingly absorbed.) Despite assertions by Russell, Wittgen-
Srre h a "pro-metaphysical position absolves the given
stein, Husserl et al. that science has little to offer for the solution of by
rrt'tring it to a meaningful structure of being which is "on_
said to exist
371 A Cririque of Methodolog l iltt ou( tion 375

('()mte's famous dictum about the business of science, savoir pour

independent of historical changes"rs-an ontology under the guise of
a neutral methodology. l,r[t,oir , to know in orer to foresep, i.e. to bring nature under human
The social i'relevance'l of science, therefore, consistqd not r ontrol, almost has the ring of a tautology. Critical theorists did nor

merely of its resuJts; nor could it be made moreprogressiveby simply ehallenge this aim; they just refused to exempt "control" from the
changing its current application, as the advocates of "partisan sci- slatus of a value.
ence" an,C "science for the people" were demanding. By not reffoct- For them, the idea of the value-freedom of the sciences was an
.ing on their paradigmatic premises, and analytic categoies, scie s rxlension of the "objectivistic illusion" that there can be perception
often take their clues frorn pre-rational, pre-scientific definitiqrs of rr ithout a perspective from which perception takes place. For scien-

their.objects. Social scientists especially tend to investigate trrnr, values seemed added, superimposed on facts rather than being
without considering whom these are problems for. (Art rrrrnifest in the (rarely conscious choice of) objecrdefinitions in the
thought process rewarded with the label of a scholarly virtue.) In our lrrst place. As Adorno was to remark later, "the [very] concept of
time, Horkheimer complained, thinking is endangered not so much by rirlue is already an expression of a situation in which the conscious-
the wiong paths it may pursue as by its being prematurely cut short. To lt ss of the objectivity of reason is eroding."'?o "Extemal" stardards
the extent that an unreflexive science serves any social order, mapag' lr,rvc to order what is falling apart. When we ignore the value-choice
ing lfs problems and crises and thus helping to stabilize that order:lt is ,I our perspective in determining the kinds of facts we deal with, the
a mere ''handmaiden" 16 of the powers tha be-the very powers that , rtommunication of that perspective makes it and the facts appear
have a vested interest in repressing the emergence of alternative or rrrrlcrendent of one another. The belief in the value-neutrality of one's
better orders; and to that extent, science "passively participates in the ,r,rroach, the assumption of a suspended perspective, simply means
common injustfu:s."'' Moreover, since scientific knowledge hEs the ,,rt' has no categories with which to recognize that perspective.
form of he Prob \\ rthout a theory to articulate and account for it, it becomes,literally,
rrr rsible. That values and decisions can be other than conscious,
science into thi
forrp-i the sub , i tt'rn?l or imposed, recognizable as explicit tenets one may accept or
"problem" untouched. r, t'cf , thot values may be built-in screens of perception and rules of
With scierrtism and its complementary technological ratio ty ,,,',,,ciation, did not commonly occur to the advocates of value-
having become the prevalent ideology of the time, Horkheimer con' lrr't'tlom.
cluded that "in as far as we can rightly speak of a crisis in science, that Thus, formal logic and naive empirlbism seemed to constitute a
crisis is inseparable from the general crisis. The historical process ha l,crlcct working alliaBce: determined.not to inquire into their own
imposed chains on science as a force of production, and these show in ,rx'ral/ideological genesis and funcon, both insisted on an ultimate
the various sectors of science, in their content and form, in theif l',',rr of knowledge. Rules of inference or facts were irreducibles,
subject matter and method."te Certain problems cannot appear a rr,'rt' simply givens and thus premises (not proper objects) of investi-
scientific problems within the scientistic paradigm-which thul t',rrr()n. For critical theorists, on the other hand, there were no sch
awards cognitive respectability only to problems accessible to what lr rlrlrrgs as absolute premisesof any kind: like any conception, premises
to be the one and only valid method-quite evidently a rather unscien' \\'crc human productb, usually the latest notion of an ultimate truth
tific value decision. "It is not the victory of saivnce that is tho rrlntll thus became paradigmatic, i.e. the basis of further thought
r l r,r vv|ish it, as a f undament, remained exempt) . Rules of inference
distinguishing mark of our nineteenth century, but the victory
se ientific method over science. ' 're Nietzsche had indicted the arbitrary
tlr,'rr rrppear as functions of a reified truth. Yet, "the implicit genesis
cognitive restriction. The "technical" value is built itlfo the ,,1 Lrgic" itself "lies in social behavior," Adorno asserted. "Ac-
r rrrl* to Durkheim, the forms of logical propositions are shaped by
of scientific knowle@ge (and thus the very methods of attaining it),
,,,n r,rl experiences, such as generational and property relations."2l
The aim of science to produce technically useable knowledge delimill
desirable/permissible/prohibitive "methodical" relations to objectl llrr'. tontingency is not recognized as such: for strategic reasons,
insight we express in the concept of an "approach" to them, l,,rr trr u lrr interests always pretend to be universal ones--often persua-
Introduction i77
i76 A Critique ol Methodology

takes sense data as his final reference point anyway, but processed
sively, even to themselves. That the interest should be repressed il
very much part of that interest, Habermas was to comment later! 'Jata, mediated through language and perceptual/conceptual
categories. Logical positivists seemed perfectly unaware despite Witt-
Analogously, the emgiig[st -'
genstein that, "following the progress in ethnology and psychology,
facts were, after all, prqglucts of
the constitutive function of language for sense data has been demon-
perception; that we only know "
strated. . . . The given is not just expressed through language, but
unconscious) theories and methods ae the mediatrors: screens an{
lormed as well. "2? For all their proclaimed skepticism, logical positiv-
collating rules for iaw data actively shaping them into paiticulat
ists doubted everything except the position from which they doubted.,
objects, facts or events. As Dewey knew, 'ito find out what is givenil'
Rather than examine the intersubjective "protocol language" and its
an inquiry which taxes reflection at the uttermost. "22 (Marcuse onco
contingency, they simply and naively used it, and accepted as a

noted that Greek skepticism had risen with doubts about sense percep.
"fortunate circumstance" (Camap) that a shaed descriptive language
tion. Undaunted by positivistic and " realistic" claims that the worl{
is simply everything that is the case (in the early Wittgenstein
However, fhe uncritical acceptance of a widely shared form of
famous formulation), critical theorists insisted that what is the caso,
rnediation does not indicate that it is not a mediator. On the contrary,
the supposed facts, are themselves only "something conditional."r
its universality only hides that very function through its monopoly. (A
Positivists of the Vienna circle defended themselves by pro
nonistic "unified sc-ience" seeined thb ltirirat gbal of logical
rclaiming that, in such criticism, "problems of appropriate descriptiol
rxrsiti:is.) such delimi what kind of data are perceivid at
' are confused with questions of fact, which leads to seemingly ontolog ^"iutori
all. If they constitute the "facts," then other facts are literal,ly imper-
,ical problems."2a Yet, this argument only shifted the actual questioni ceptible as long as is mediator prev4ils-the more universal it is, re
, where do the descriptive categories come
from, and how are facll
fewer new or alternative "facts" will emerge. The shared observation
'- accessible without such categories? For "the origins andconditionsOl
language does not guarantee but may even prevent access to facts: The
, knowledge are not at the same time the origins and conditions of th lrclief in witchcraft was fought with the same means of a strictly
'r ryv6l6t,"zs and their problematic historical relation cannot bf
rationalistic philosophy. Yet in view of the great quantity of protocol
eliminated by methodological fiat. The consequence of such an at.
statements which intersubjectively confirmed the existence/observa-
/ tempf was pinpointed later by Adomo: "an object gets investigated by
tion of witches, the empiricists should not even have been able to insist
r a research tool which, through its own formulation, decides what th
that witchcraft was unlikely,2t Horkheimer mocked.
object is: a simple circle."26 The dubious claim, Cartesian in origi
Traditional empiricism in this respect was not half as naive as its
was that facts somehow were "there," patiently waiting to be
nrodern successors, Lockeand'
up, "discovered"; and that perceptual perspectives are basi ;,
distortions which had better be abandoned in favor of the neutral
l{ume, through the and sense/
cvidence the find hy at least
universal tools-methods which simply render facts as they are,
e ontains this dynamic element: it refers to a knowing subject"" (just
irs Leibniz, on the other-the rationalist-side, had insisted on a
Even Popper (who did not become their major target and
rltbsla4liqidgals). Once this active subject was exposed as historical,
tagonist till much later-cf. Part II of this work) occasionally
it should have been obvious that the perceptual filters were historical,
ceded that facts were products of theories (or a joint product
trxr. The facts given to us by the senses are socially preforrtied intwo z'
language and reality)-which should mean that facts really have
ways: throug the historical chaacter of the perceived object, and
.,, - cognitive status of hypotheses. Yet, Popper still insists on the pos
through the historical character of the perceiving organ.3o
''t ; ity of "basic statements," evidently frgetfiil ofhis stringent cril This "subject" is, of course, not an idiosyncratic individual
] of Camap's equivalent "protocol statements." Carnaphadconter trying to generalize. When Horkheimer speaks of a "general su$ec-
that simple observational statements could take the place of sense
tivity on which individual cognition nd the
as evidence if these could be agreed on intersubjectively. This, 1
e<lllective subjectivity of an entire cu sness.
course, merely shifts-and begs-the question. For no one /
l:very culture carries its implicit "th packy'
A Critique ol Merhodolog' Itttt,rltrcliott 379

ages sense stimuli, and we would not even perceive these sense stimuli
rlrt rrethods designed to test thern. A method is simply a question,
I lrrlcrmas was to argue later, and surely no method will yield informa-

trorr which it does not ask for (through its very formulation). What we
,, r'k are explanations for whatever appears problematic to our "ideals
,l rrltural order" (Toulmin); the natural/normal does not need expla-
The social oonstruction of realiy' as we would now say' is what rrrtion. (By the same token, the history of scientific theories can be
positivists of necessity had to exclude; admitting it would have cost ,, problem-history of humanity.) Methods/questions are thus
t'rr as the

(their method its claim to independence and universality. As Schtz ,r'.tlcpendent on the cultural paradigm as are "satisfactory" explana-
it somewhat later: rrons; for "the objects and manner of perception, the questions and the
was to put
rrrr'irning of explanation testify to hurnan activity."'Explanation is a j
All forms of naturalism and logical empiricism simply take for I'r;rgmatic concept, and it is the varying situational ideals of a naturall
granted this socialreality. . . . Intersubjectivity''' andlanguage ,rtle r, not a choice among the various nomological laws operative in
re simply presupposed as the unclarified foundation of these ,rr vent (the classic positivist version), which decide what constitutes
theories. They aisume, as it were, that the social scientist has ,r "satisfactory" explanation in a given case.
already solved his fr.rndan-lental problems, beforc scientific in- Methodologies are either relative (adequate) to predefined object
quiry starts.33 ,l,ris, and thus share their transcendental organization, or they
urst claim to be universal, in which case the question of their
,rr['cuac] is undecidable and irrelevant. In either case, their validity
r,urnot be determined regardless of their relation to their subject
'l\ rr;rllcr. Like explanation, validity is a pragmatic idea; its relation to
tlrt' notion of currency seems no accident.
of the latter. Hybrid concepts such as "natural law," or the obvious
lcgal (or religious) origin of the concept of "cause" are only the mosl Iln' Sociolog' of Knowledge and Ps1:choanalysis
blatant examples.
Here lay one of the reasons for critical theorists to reject the To happiness the same applies as to truth: one does not have it,
notion that hypotheses-if not "deducai"-vvse but random seren- l,rrt is in it. (Theodor W. Adomo)
dipitous hunches of the private scientist. The paradigmatic reasons for
accepring a hypothesis as valid might not be that different frorn those In the history of philosophy we repeatedly find epistemological
formulating it in the first place. The very expression of an "educated , ,rt('gories turning into moral ones. (Theodor W. Adorno)
guess" suggests the operation of a subterranean logic of experience-
a kind of p-re-th_eoretical cultural competence-which alerts us to In the sphere of history, the concepts of "true" or "false" do not ,

some featurs^ffid pbssibilities of experience rather than to others, and til\t apply to a consciousness, a form of thought, or a theory; they
provides certain mocles of
organizing that experience rather than rrl)l)ly as well to a concrete situation-and the organization of Iife to
. praised esting at rrlrieh it belongs. (Herbert Marcuse)
I hypothe imPortan
\ trit is present The critic of culture must assume that he has the culture whichl
through enerates' , rlture itself lacks. (Theodor W. Adorno)
the future, and our "desirous anticipations"36 may be cognitive sign-
,, posts pointing to the fact that their factuality has become "conceiv- Critical theory's concern with tuediating subjeotity w3s-not
able" for us. lirtrited to the sciences, of course (though the illusion of value-
Just as our theoretical concepts are substantive hypotheses, so arc r('ut'ality made them a particularly tempting-and fruitful-field
380 A Cririque ol Methodolog' lntroduct.n 38t

in which to demonstrate the operation of tacit consensus and presuP- tics about a reality per se , or to the Katian notion of cognitive forms
positions). Concerned with the emergence or ' 'production" of knolvl- valid a priori.)
iaqe, ana orientations for politicalieasons, Horiheimer very eaifi This "general subjectivity upon which individual knowledge
gaie primicy to the relations between base and superitructure, so (lcpends,"42 described by Kant as timeless and fixed,
is literally
ellcied by'Marx himelf.'The investigations were to be empirical irrvisible in its form as "common sense"; as a condition and form of
and methodical, to detect the actual " ic links" between "mind k.owledge, it rarely becomes an object of knowledge. yet rhese self-
cvident axioms of everyday practice constitute the most important
tute, he outlined the changed focus in his inaugural speech : to put ' '8 tlimension of an ideology: universally shared, these frameworks of
comprehensive empirical research apparatus into the service of prob. ,ur knowledge do not appear as relative orcontingent. Because of this
lems of social philosophy," the central one being "the connection rrniversality, they do in fact constitute the spirit, the truth of a group,
between the economic life of society, the psychic development of ,o matter how historically relative and limited this spirit (and group) ,

individuals, and the changes in cultural spheres . . . including not only rrctually is. while these tacit and allegedly formed axioms, this
the intellectual content of the sciences, art and religion, but of law, r'ork, literally delimits what can be seen and what is conceivable, it
more s, lS,gl
.,f pgu_!i"_:pl! lo.-9" I !p94 I L 9!"t-9l3i.Ury!]|,_ll r in use of that age or group, and thus
-etc."3'ql(It went without saying that such a comprehensive projecl i up. In this sense, an ideolog is sim-
necessitated an interdisciplinary approach, simply because the naturo I reference group.
of the "objects" in which the various spheres overlapped demanded From Bacon throuh d'Holbach to Daniel Bell, ideologies have
hcen mostly seen as distortions of and barriers to an actuar truth. The
t r itical concept of ideology (and myth) emphasizes their truth as well
rs their concealing function (i.e. concealing their contingency).
In one
,,l his earliest works, Horkheimer had praised Vico for his insight
' 'that the
oldest legends must have "o,
contained political truths. Tobe ,r
philoroph". *arffiiRather thn merely systematize the suh etbv
stane of knowledge, Kart focused on the conditions of knowinS, ;l enc,

That there were not only distortions of truth (as Bacon had suggestc( .I have
with his notion of "idols") but conditions of truth, i.e. regulativl rlr borh
ideas and categorial forrns through which, and only through whicht t rrr[y and represent the current truth and, at the same time, concea] it
we perceive sense data as paicular objects or events-this discovof l'|y concealing the active social and historical dimension behind the
had been one of Kant's chief merits. In principle, we never see ol nu.rrral faEade of factuality. (Likewise, Marcuse had chided the r

know objects as they really are, but only as they are "constituted'l ,rt udemic sociology of knowledge for concerning itself only with the
through these filtering and ordering forms. untruths but not with the truths of forms of consciousness.) I
Traditional theories on the whole, critical theorists pointed oull It would be difficult to comprehend this argument without the
tended to repeat Kant's mistake about these subjective conditions , ,ncomitant Hegelian concept of reason. Not a timeless human
knowledge: in its "hypostasis as form" of knowledge t hovering over the vicissitudes of history and the object world,
containing no substantive assertions, the collective r('uson, in this version, is a historical function, the dawning stage of
forgets "how and whereby it was constituted."ar (Kant, though, ,rrvareness, the cu onceptualization of the way
simply preserved a "truth" of an age prior to his own. He attributed lrrullans experienc for instance, are objectifica_
the "subjective" forms of knowledge the immutability tradi rrols of reason in mpts of humans to deal with
ascribed the objects themselves. After Kant, however, this nai tlrt',selves in object form. of course, gods are false consciousness,
was no longer justifiable, and critical theorists chided the objecti lrrr their "truth" is not in their manifest content. As anthropomorph-
illusion of recent positivism, which regressed to pre-Kantian ce r',rrr, they allow confrontation with human attributes. which necessi-
A Criri,luc LI Mcthodolog' I t tt rodu( lion

tates "reasons" for favoring these attributes rather than others; whil0 A consistently non-a priori approach must distrust any f irst, f inal
they are false consciousness, they also therefore contain this eman' or immutable principles, be they subslantive, structural , frrnral or
cipatory truth. (Neo-romantic ideologies are wrong and stupid in thcit tcleological.a' Much to the chagrin of morg orthQdox \{ax.ists, this
explicit content, but have their "truth" content in theirkeen reaction rrcriented critical theorists from fetishizing even the econonric base or
to alienating and authoritarian forms of Iife.) The latest stage of such .rny social objectivity, and even the critique of political econom)/ as a
"rcason" always tends to appear absolute, universal, and naturtl tlrcory; to them, it remained a fon of historical reason., "A grcat lrLrth
\vants to be criticized, not idolized," Nietzsche had proclaimed, ancl
simply because it does not yet include awareness of its own limits and
lre was fondly cited by critical theorisls who insisted that the "influ-
functions; such awarencss would mean that this consciousness ot
reason had moved on to a higher stage of self-awareness: that it had t'nce of social development on the structure of the theory is part of thc
recognized its particular form as one ,nol rlz rnode of conceptualizing tlrcory's substantive content..'48 The function of a theory was \,cr)
expcrience and observation. rrruch part of the validity of its truth claim:
ln retrospect, we can always recognizc previous forms of reastln
as limited-but to call them false impiies they were u Civen the evolution of productive forces in antiquity, even the
t3l!," nraterialist philosophcrs were forced in the face of suffering to
detours. The "working.rcason," or "working of an agc o
elaborate techniques of an interior life; peace of soul is the only
culture cannot just have been false as long as it.was a nccessary slag(l.
rcsort in the miilsl of distress w'hen all external nreans fail. B
For-al ts ieliological subtritum, inil conc"pt of "necessary ili contrast, the materialism of the early tlourgeois era ainted at
sions" transcends the simple-minded notion of truth as existing dcveloping the knowledge of nature and at altuining ne\\ po\\e r\
there, rcady-madc (already "coined, " as Hegel used to say), patiently of mastery over nature and man. The misery of thc present,
waiting to be discovered if we could just make up our minds to however, is linked to the structure of societ,; social theorl ,
"falsc" notions and approaches. "Such Truth is more disastrous therefore, constitutes the content of contemporar), mater ial ism.''l
error and ignorance because it paralyzes the forces with which
'works toward enlightennrent and knowledge,"ot Nietzsche had
I o r,, 1fs notion of the tinreliness of 4lhcor) ulay appear absurd; aftcr
complained. Truth might be more usefully conceptualized as a f
,rll, we have learned t!4 !!9 e-xplanatory ranqe/power o[ a theory
of production- for in this manner it includes its dcveloprnent
r rr'r crses as it eliminatetli,e ,n.l spice inclices.\Yet, if thc cate gorics
function as part of its substance. A "ready" truth would entail
,rrrtl concepts of a theory are the form of (historical) reason, athcor),
ontolog of the world as fixed and final, and thus entail a fatali
,,ur be true only by being "self-reflexive": by nraking its catcgclrial
ideology. (tsy contrast, for instance, even Fichte's "false" ideali
trrrcthodological etc.) premises part of thc objects it investigates. A
insis{ence on the activa fan'.;cendental subject lrade it possiblc
tlrr'ory is not simply true or false; a consciousness is not simpl cclrrcct
historicize the constitution problem; consequently, at that time it
,, lrrlse. Such judgment requires an analysis of what people could or
the only way to conceptualize consciousness as praxis, and praxis
lt,ttl to think, given the terms in and under which they were experienc-
the categorial constitution of the world-e.g. through labor.)
rrrl', lhe world. Likewise, the distinction between rational and irratiorr-
people can perceive their ctlnsciousne5s as contingent, i.e. that
,rl rr ould require that we be in possession of a timeless rcason, Adrrno
can turn into enlightenrnent, was one of the central contentions
', rirrted out. Given increasingly narrow definitions of reason through-
Dialectic af Enlightenmenf . "Ho\Never socially conditioned
,'rrt ccen1 history, increasingly larger areas of cclgnitive activitics
thinking of the individuals may be. . . . it renrains the thought
\\ ( rL' labeled irrational. From Descartes to Kant and modern positiv-
inclividuals who are not merely thc products of collective
r,t,. the irrational areas supposedly inaccessible to rational analysis
but llso make these processes the object of their thought,"6
lr,rrt' grown along with the refinernent of the "rational method."5t'
heimer still asserted at the end of his life. That the viewpoint f
\\ lrrrtcver ilid not fit it, was exiled into the realnof irrational "deci
which this is done is promptly mythified/fetishized in turn, was
,r'rr " At the final point, Popper has called even the decision for
othcr side of thc dialectic: (the vcry act of) libcration reverts
, rt rcc lackingrational grounds: it isnrotivated n.rerely by "bclief .";.
heteronomy again, enlightenment into myth.
384 A Critique ol Merhodolog' lntroduction 385

Instead of dividing the world ontologically along methodological status-equal monads. The reduction of qualitative differences to func-
lines, critical theorists, who distrusted any form of prima t ional quantitative relations reduced these relations to the level of their
philosophia, tied these ontologies themselves to social conditions cotrlmon denominator, which is often an external criterion. People
which necessitated and in tum were shaped by them: and things become "equivalents" to the precise extent that they'
hecome-formally----equals in reference to this shared principle. (The
There are connections between the forms of judgment and the
vcry concept of something "qualitative" has become absorbed into
that of "function," Brecht once remarked, in one of Adorno's favo-
rite formultins.) Thinking in terms of unity already contains the'
tcndency to think in terms of equivalents, Adorno and Horkheimer
were to suggest in Dialectic of Enlightenment, and thus provides a
theory maintains: it need not be so; humans can change realify, lcrtile ground for the ascent of exchange rationality. By way of the
and the necessary conditions for such change already exist's' roduction of individual differences, a totalizing tendency asserts it-
sclf . And to the extent that this tendency (e.g. in terms of society as a
In this sense forms of judgment delimit "natural" and possible forms nrarket, in terms of growing bureaucratization etc.) becomes accepted
of action as well. No matter how we hide from the formative impact of rrs fsrn ofprogress and rationalization, this specific historical form
such substantive yet seemingly just formal premises by relying merely of relations of exchange between social and natural "equivalents"
on quantitative measurement, these measurements will be no moro ( omes to appear as more and more "nafural"-the more so the more
precise and reliable (and neutral) than the concepts and categories they rniversal it becomes; and by excluding altematives, it also becomes
measure. Least visible of all are the comprehensive experiential mod' sclf-legitimating. "Rationalization," the very form of human self-
els of which certain divisions or forms of inference are but specific tlefinition through or for something else ("heteronomy") seems no
examples-which may be isolated and even revised while the overall lrnger a metaphysical but a rafional demand.
modei remains intact. Critical theorists offered numerous examples of This mechanistic reconceptualization of social and natural reali-
such models, each considered true and all-encompassing in its time-
and thus not even considered as a model but simply as the structure of
of aidrifti;E inafrcifiild'of extemal
For all ifs questionable chronolology, Franz Borkenau's Ttt rurd internal variables (e.g. their "interest").
Transition lrom the Feudal to the Bourgeois World View is an Mannheim too had pointed to the orientational (rather than de-
inspired study of the fundamental shifts in the "categories of naturul ,,t riptive) nature of "scientific interpretations. " At times, he suggest-
and social science"" during that period. It attempts a detailed do' ctl that the scientific obsession with laws and order might signal
monstration of the interrelations between the social, economic' legal, rcstiges of religious and jurisdictive models or forms of conscious-
theological, psychological etc. conceptions, and of the possibiliticr n('sc-not unlike Adorno and Horkheimer who were to call causality,' .

for further conceptualizations they opened, and thus of the ground' l()r' instance, "the latest secularization of the creative principle." 1
work they laid for later developments. The interesting-and unor' I vcn positivists like Russell and Popper had spelled out attitudinal
thodox-thesis was that a world view and images.of nature depen$ qt rrrrplications of certain theories (other than their own, of course). But
both the conditions of pioduciiot and the general concepts. fil tlrcy all were content to suggest correlations between social and
'' mechanical-niathematical " world view emerging during tliat transl' t ognitive factors (as both were "naturally" separate spheres, with
tional period, in the wake of changes in the spheres ofproduction and rrrrlcpendent identities), rather than to explain reasons for these group-
circulation, brought with it the general trend toward leveling and rrrgs and correlations in the first place: for instance, what groupings
isolating units, toward defining the constituents of reality (both sociul r rttli fsfifi given certain material conditions and forms of conscious-
and natural, since both served as models for each other) in ternts Of rrt'ss ard psychology, or what kinds of psychology, cognition, and
A Cririquc of Merhodolog It ttt ( )ducliotl 387

thus of human praxis appeared conceivable or "natural" under given rperfect research techniques but one of principle. Why certain forms
rr r

conditions. oI consciousness survived the changes in historical conditions which

This was not just a matter of a difference of opinion about how far h:rd produced them, they neither could nor cared to explain. How, on
"back" one should trace the causes of certain forms of consciousness. tlrc other hand, could the working class, the subject of the revolution,
Without a theory of what mediates between social and cognitivc r ()rne to have an "ideological" rather than "Utopian" conscious-
factors, i.e. of _the "transcendental" constitution of consciousness rrcss? (This was the question inforrning much of the ideology critique
and reality, their retration had to remain accidental----or exemplify a ,rrtl social philosophy of later critipal theory.) But if the emancipation
cultural truism which begs the very question it pretends to answer. oI concrete individuals was to remain a central concern, and if social
Critical theorists agreed with Mannheim, for instance, that social lrrws acted through individuals and not just objective classes, then the
groups will tend to pass off their interests as universal. Eut this hardly , onsciousness of individuals was neither negligible, nor was concern
tempted them to reduce all ideologies zurd utopias to mere forms of srth it a form of bourgeois subjectivism. As agents of history, they
"subjective" expression. fhe formal category of "elites," forexam- lr;rtl been forgotten, it seemed, in favor of reified laws of which they
ple, one of Mannheim's favorites, conceals who dominates whonl rr cre considered mere reflexes or exemplifications (itself a "mechani-
behind the forrnal statement that there is always domination; the who,, z,rlion"). The publication in l9?2 of Marx's Economic and
how, why (ancl lls_clangaQi_lityiiould be the topic rather than the l'ltilosophic Manuscripts, with their "anthropological" and
"mere" empirical detail of an inevitable universal experience. Thc lrrrrrranistic emphasis, heartened those Marxists who had despaired of
alleged pluralism of social perspectives which Mannheim's "innocu- tlrt' official neglect of such concerns.
ous relationisnl" saw as adding up to a balanced whole, rnight turn out Responsive to Dilthey's pleas for a social psychology to substan-
to be no pluralisrn at all but an enforced division, made-and thus tr,rtc historical analysis, the Frankfurtians showed early sensitivity to
changeable-by humans. Of course, carrying the analysis to this point tlrt possibilities of psychoanalysis. However, not until 1932, when
would render the reified "principies" and "forces" of social d.ivi,siqr I ronr entered the Institute, was psychoanalysis systematically in-
less cornpelling (or ontologibal), and the terms of Mannheim's exp. *rps1sd into the historical rnaterialism of the group. In a series of
,/ nation itself might reveal their "relationism." (It puzzled critical l,r,rgrammatic statements (the first of which is reproduced here),
I theorists why "the consciousness of the sociology of knowledge" I ronrm attempted a systematic merger of Marx and Freud at roughly
' should be the only one exempt from historical relativity.) All theories llr( same time as Reich; the parameters of the attempt are too well
are not equal. Neither their transhistorical content nor any formal I rrown to require elaboration here. Fromm's early argument was as
criterion but what, under given circumstances, "a theory includcs .rrrrple as it was obvious: as Freud had diagnosed pathologies as
and what it excludes, decides about its quality,"55 Adorno com. l,r orlucts of the individual's history, it was a short step to show that the
mented. rr,lividual's history (e.9. within the farnily) was itself embedded in
And the traditional sociology of knowledge did consistently ,rrrtl confingent on a larger collectivity. As an agent clf socialization,
"exclude" its central problem: the nature of fhe nexus, i.e. tho tlr,' f amiiy produced the character types and behaviors typical of , and
concrete mechanisms mediating between consciousness and society, lrrrrctional for, the particular socio-economic class.
Although recognized by some of its major representatives, this faull Frornm explained specific kinds of drives as active and passive
continues to mar the validity of otherwise sophisticated content anal. ,r,lrrlations to specific socio-econonic situations, the "primary for-
y ses : they employ , and thus accept, the social and conceptual associa- l,rtive factor. " Without denying their biological base, Fromm could
tions and divisions whose very existence and function should be thcir t l rr rs st ow the behavioral expressions of drives, and subsequently their

actual problem'6 (e.g. divisions into high and mass culture, individuul ,lrller.enf forrns of gratification, to be dynamic responses and neces-
and society, theory and practice, love and hate, etc.). \,/r r' fortrrrs of historical behavior. Given the psychostructure pro-
Insofar as orthodox Marxism and bourgeois sociology lacked I rlrrt t'tJ by different socio-economic conditions, class-specific needs,
systematic theory of the necessary mediations between subjectiv! ,,rrlliq1s, pressures and possibilities can hardly be considered an-
consciousness and objective conditions, this failure was not one of tl rr, rrological constants. Through these psychoslructures, social con-
358 A Critique ot

redeem the critical potential of psychoanalysis by tuming it into a

ditions are reproduced within the individual not only in the form ol
positive theory of emancipation. When he published Eros and Civili-
explicit values and material necessities, which then tend toward conr
as they remain urlconscioul
zation tn 1955, his former colleagues did not cornment (except
genial social forms, but of drives. As long
Fromm, who disapproved). In all likelihood, Marcuse's cautious
and are perceived as "natural," these social sediments are alien forcot
attempt to spell out specifics of the future liberated personality and
within humans-a form of heteronomy, Adomo would have added,
society (and the positive, rather than just critical, use ofthe biological
Changing human motivation and drives presuPposes that they anl
base) may have struck them as an undue limitation of future pos-
recognized as products of situations, as Freud had suggested. (Tha
sibilities. Yet, besides the critical potential of any positive alternative,
early Freud had suspected, but then disregarded, the influence of thf
this altemative seemed viable-a concrete possibility given the mate-
Iarger social framework.)
rial and technological conditions of the present. In the estheticized
Most of the categories (and topics) of Fromm's M
society, critique ard its instruments would be "aufgehoben"-
synthesis re-emerged in the various political, cultural and esthetlC
climinated (as critique) by being realized (in reality).
analyses of the group in the following decades. Most important
Almost two decades later, in Counterrevolution and Revolt,
them, however, and surprising only at first glance, was the obsti
Marcuse resumed the critical focus: no conceivable historical reality
retention of the biological base, and the emphasis on the hi
could attain the unity (identity) of subject and object; the subject (as a
forms of drives. Thus, they challenged the universality of the Oedi Iorce of production, ahead of the objective conditions) could be
phase just as much as the specific biological interpretation of
suspended only in a dead-end utopia. Like the libidinal base, the
"death drive"; like Reich, they saw the latter as the biologization
esthetic mode was critical in principle.
destructive tendencies in society which deflected attention from
As critical theorists practiced it, both sociology of knowledge
real social pathogenesis. (In an analogous argument, Adomo deri
rrnd psychoanalytic social psychology were to be critical, self-reflex-
Heidegger for enshrining as an existential "Angst" the realistic
ive and emancipatory "tools"-without loss of their "scientificity. "
which social conditions instilled in individuals.)
Systematizing the social mediations of consciousness and motivation,
This basic pattern of the social interpretation of supposed
they were to preserve the historical "truths" as well as to expose the
tential human drives and needs was to remain valid for most of
lristorical contingencies of these forms. In this sense, criical theory
Institute except, ironically, Fromm himself . With growing di
rnight be called a kind of socio-epistemology. Its underlying practical
ments, Fromm moved out of the Institute, and the other members,
tlrrust is unmistkable as the basic pattern which foreshadows Haber-
often bitter attacks, chided him for surrendering the progressive
rrras's later claim for psychoanalysis as a science rooted in an eman-
of his earlier approach. Not only did Fromm assume a human ' ( ipatory cognitive interest. Fromm had argued that in contrast with
ture" again, but he even surrendered what was perhaps the
s r rv ival needs, sexual drives can be satisfied without''real means "-
critical of Freud's conceptions: the libidinal base. With it,
r,c. even through fantasies-something that placed the ruling class in
Horkheimer and Marcuse complained, disappeared the
thc position of being able to offer its choice of gratifications to the
base for the only truly irreconcilable and incompatible dimension
tlominated classes. The primary cognitive interest (a recurrent term in
humans, the deviation in principle, the always overshooting
lkrrkheimer's work) then was to keep the forms these choices took
tion, the non-identity with any status quo, the truly critical concepl
lrom appearing "natural" or "given," to redeem them and their
srccific forms of consciousness. The critique of what is excluded frorn
In another stroke of irony, the later Marcuse (who had
tlese forms is not superfluous to stringent analysis, but is an inherent
little interest in the Marx-Freud synthesis during the thirties)
rctuirement of objectivity. If scientific interest is directed toward the
ed the merger once more, in the frame of a general theory of c
"whole" truth, which, as we saw, always transcends/exceeds the
For the most part, the Frankfurtians employed Freudian conceptg
explain salient contemporary forms of consciousness and iivon, the accurate, full and objective description of the truth is
r r itique by definition because it exceeds the status quo.
(e.g. the "authoritarian personality"). Marcuse, however, soughl
Itttnduction 391

(which would imply that different purposes requ different rules);

rtlcntifying one set with reason means e only lts
informing purpose-an obvious, although tacit decision among alter-
rrirtive values. Once such a decision is enthroned, the informing values
rrc withdrawn from rational challenge and discussion (including the
onc that led to this "choice"); reason proudly pronounces itself
ne utral and a merely formal instrument to administer and implement

rrrlcs, goals and values which themselves seem neither produced, nor
nrrdifiable, by reason.
Increasingly, "thought has renounced its claim to be critical ad
rosit goals at the same time."5e Its reduction to "mere calculation"
rl)irrt from normative decisions e.g. on goals (which thus come to
rrl)l)car as "irrational" decisions), bears little relation to either the
urtcnt or method of that ancestry positivists claimed; Montesquieu,
I ocke, the Encyclopedists e/ al . had held reason

to be the result of free and autonomous judgment, and the rational

was the activity that followed this judgment. Appeal to the facts
was meant to corroborate reason, not to override it; if the facts
were at variance with reason's dictates, the former were
"wrong" and had to be changed in conformity with the latter's
The idea which animated positivist philosophy in the l Sth
century was a critical one . . .0

To Horkheimer, the present pervasiveness of instrumental/for-

r /subjectiye rationality (which formally enshrined cerrain hi storic-
,rl/ subjective forms of reason with its characteristic forms of judg-
ril('nt) was a sign of historical immaturity, oi aregress toheteronomy.
" l'lrc calculating thought of 'Verstand'tr belongs to a type of human
I'r'rrrg who is still relatively powerless. Despite his busyness, he is
Irssive in decisive rlatters, "oz i.e. he takes his goals from somewhere
r l,,t' By contrast, critical theorists upheld a concept of reason as a
"lt'los immanent in the historical process toward human autonomy
ri,, rr'vis the history they have made."o
rlirlt'ctic of limits is unmistakabls-ss6n is

rrrsl ituti
rrr',, htrt
3n A Critique ol Merhodology

The Concept of Reason

Reason was the only category of philosophical thought which,

over the centuries, retained any relation to the empirical "fate of
humanity". (Alfred Schmidt)

Because even its remotest objectifications are nourished by im-

pulses, thought destroys in the latter the condition of its own exis-;
tence. (Theodor W. Adorno)

Any contempory re-statement of liberal or socialist goals must

include as central the idea of a society where men would become men
of substanfive reason, whose independent reasoning would have
structural consequences for their societies, its history, and thus fo
their own life fates. (C. Wright Mills)

Fundamental to critical theory is a concept of rg,qspn as both

I its current ''instrumental" definition, the historical nature of reason

the dawning consciousness of an age of culture, and, consequently,
functional role in organizing the values of these historical situations,
1lost. Precisely as ernpirical consciousness, reason simultaneously
i"transcendental" status: the conceptualizations of a particular
of insight circumscribe-literally-what is conceivable, just as
idelimitations are but the crystallization of cumulative experi
iYet, as a force of production (and insights into the historical con
lgency of forms of reason can become such a force, critical theori
iinsisted, reason considers reality not reasonable per se; reality rn
lag behind its own possibilities, and needs to be "brought to

trt is hardly surprising that this concept of reason has played

minimal (if any) role i mporary philosophical discourse,
as one of its aspectsl come tobe

basically irrational procedures. "Reasons" and rationality

connected. Defining reason in terms of opeiational rules

court, as it were, that relates those operational rules to a


irrlcrvene and reverse the tide; but they also saw clearly that th,g,q,glf;i
ason was occurring no of its conuptiofi, but
immanent logic as " of enlightenment,"
Since part of its liberating function had been to ask any agency to
legitimate its authority, reason finally had to turn that challenge
ngainst itself . It had to declare its own authority ard substantive claims
nrt of the very myths it had helped dissolve-so that it alone might
lcign. The dual contemporary mode of instrumental and formalized
rrrbjective rationality blocks any rational perspective from which it
t'ould be seen as a specific and one-sided form of reason. It indicts as
Irutional any perspective from which alternatives (to itself) are at all
lonceivable. The very capacity to both perceive this limitation and
llrus conceive alternatives is diminishing, and with it the autonomy to
tlccide, which presupposes the visibility of altematives.
Reason had once been able to claim that things could be different
hy pointing to its own existence as an altemative mode and order of
lring. Like art, like fantasy, its residual forms today, it overshoots
rculity. The true is the whole, Hegel had said, and that includes "real"
xrssibilities and their realization as part of reality.o If reason grasps
the truth of a situation, its true identity in this sense, then any concrete
ituation always falls short of its true identity. (When we speak of the
lrrrth o/ something, we always assume there is more than meets the
eyc, than can be expressed by statements corresponding to observ-
The idea of reason in this sertse; as a "piojct," dat's back into
Wcstem antiqity, e.g. Anaxagoras, whose suggestion of a
"1s"-1|s idea of an order in nature which replaced the older
urrinristic world view-implied the possibility of such discrepancy.
'l'lrc existing order is not perfect, is not in accordance ("identical")
with its idea, but has tobe brought to its identity, to its "whole truth. "
'[o focus not only on what is there but on what could (arid perhaps
rhould) be is the function of substantive reason. It, st ppgsed to
llrc dominance of instrumental
rilt(l refines what is. Since Aristotle, fantasy has been constitutive
Inredient of;69gs94. To the extent that this cognitive faculty goes
hcyond the status quo, it is critical of it (its limitations and the reasons
hrr it): cri 70

s idea that it was "eros"

wlrich "enabled the sage to know the ideas. He [Plato] thus connected
r ngnition with a moral or psychic state. "7r "Correct thinking depends
trrr ( orrect will, as will depends on thinking, "T' Horkheimer declared,
A Critique of Methodolol

Passive (non-interfering) contemplation belongs to a "naive"

where humans confront the world as something "other": they
not recognized their share in its shaping, nor that the terms in
y relate to it are of their own making, nor thatthey are dealing
conceptually or materially inner and outer
"When the idea of reason was
ceived, it was to do more than regulate the relation between means a{
ends; it was intended to determine the ends." With the same argf
.f crl

them--of reason and the individual "as whose agency it [reason]

developed"or was clearly no coincidence for them.
The mark of individual autonomy was conscious choice,.s
presupposed that there were viable alternatives and options which,
turn, presupposed their knowledge or "creation"
proper task of substantive reason. Mutatis mutandis, this exercis
substantive reason was predicated on the guiding interest in
autonomy: "freedom and reason are nonsense without each other.t
In this sense, an unreasonable approach is also an amoral one.
cannot speak of a moral decision if we are coerced into it, or do not
alternate options, no matter if we make it unconsciously or
submit. Any prior guidelines relieve us of moral decisions;
one means surrendering both reason and freedom, for "binding
directives do not exist."oz On the one hand, the currrcntly
form of reason serves as such a guideline wltich suspendsthe
of autonomous judgment; on the other, its particular form makes
decisions a private matter-which lets its use appear as the
choice of individuals whose decision-making ability it has just
This concept of reason was not an undue mix of cognitive
irrational ingredients, but the "logical" consequence of
the. reason:rules of deductive inference; it
priiirof Adorno once put it, to "break throug!
coercive nature of logic by logical means," i.e. by turning logic
itself. The exclusive ascendence of instrumental reason mea
(self-) cancellation of autonomous ison, and thus went
hand with (and was instrumental to) the most irrational forrfs
Critical theorists did not abandon the belief that humans
A Cririque of 19-5

foreshadowing Habermas's famous dictum that propositional \ ()r))nron denominator which, to critical therrists, made negligible all
hinges on the intention of a true socrcty. ,rtlrcr differences between idealism, positivism and ontologies of any
The "new logic" of logical positivism, against which cr k illd , and even certain forms of materialism : the pretense-no matter
theorists were directing most of their polemic, seemed the lrow well concealed-that we have an ultimate and unchangeable
manifestation of this reductive tendency, although only represen t ritcrion for what is rational and meaningful, a first or final principle,
of a general trend of the time. A self-declared tautology, or "theory ,rn Archimedean fixed point from which to order empirical phenome-
deduction," it collapses the complex philosophical concept of I rrr. not itself empirical or historical. "In order to limit itself as finite,
into that of syntactic or methodological (formal) "correctness. " .. rr'irson must have access to the infinite on behalf of which the specific
fact that a judgment can be correct and nevertheless without truth, lnlr itation is performed. "76 That anyone could claim such access, they
been a crux of formal logic from time immemorial,"Marcuse (l()ubted; short of it, the standards of knowledge were historical/em-
ed logical positivists.T3 Reducrng reason to mere acumen, e rirical products (facts) subject to the same analysis as the object of
and "trained incompetence," positivism nevertheless avails itself L nowledge. Standards of objectivity are as historical as the facts they

the traditional prestige of science-which itself dates back, t o151i11s. For qualitative and substantive objectivity, methodologics
to the days of its critical, liberatory thrust. In earlierdays, necded to be "self-reflexive," i.e. having the premises and standards
reason constructed visions of a reasonable world and demanded ,rl an investigation as part of the object under investigation.
forts to realize those visions. In the recent reduction of reason (slill Often critical of Dewey's instrumentalism, they felt closer to him
value) to "technical" knowledge and information, the impticit IIrrn to logical positivists because of his attempt at "a material logic in
tive is a technical relation to the world. Other attitudes are l rlrc sense . . . that the matters of logic (the objects with which logical
"irrational. " If critical-substantive reason once aimed at becomi tlrought deals) are drawn consistently into the arena of investigation,
total life form, it was a liberating demand. Instrumental reason .rrl the logical "forms" are discussed exclusively in their constitutive
species of the genus: its instrumental knowledge enablecl , orrucction with this material."77 By contrast, the "new logic" u,hich
beings to "make their own destiny." But reason, reduced to taskS , ritical theorists attacked "is called formal. Little is said in these
technical control, must be indifferent to what is to be controlled rrrilings of how the form is to be explained without reference lo lhe
whaf porpose. The idea of a ' 'reasonable goal " (or of a rational ( or)tcnt. . . Proudly this logic declares that nowhere does it increase
or correction of goals) cannot be accommodated within that concepl ,,rrlrstantire knowledge."78 Nevertheless, it clain-red to be thc logic of
reason -7a rrrlerence in substantive research; it remained aptzzhng issue how
The reversal is complete, not only of ends and means, bul t,rrrtologies were lo permit understanding. Form is always thal of its
subject and object. The most subjective aspect, the perspective, , ontcnt, Hegel had explained; but despite the admission (c.g by
way of looking at things, formalized as method, something absl l(rrsse l1) that symbolic logic is little nrore than a shorlha-nd, littlc is said
and spiritual , has become the standard of objectivity; whereas , , ,rl)()ut what it is a shorthand for. To critical theorists, theconccpts of
ing reason," the historically grown objective logic of a given l,rf icl ps5ilivisnr are not concepts of anything, the arc not substau
is made to appear accidental. "Objective means the non trre. and thus not a form of knowledge at all.
aspect of things, their unquestioned impression , the fagade made up If methodological and syntactical standards are to bc cognitivc
classified data; and they call subjective anything that breaches ',t.urrlards as well, then n.rethod and (ourconceptualization o[) nratcrial
facade..."7s. In the fear of revealing their points of referencc l,rr rtluce and crystallize each other. Cognitive categories ure not se par-
contingent and derivative, logical positivists could not accept a .rl,l ron, what they are categorics of; if onc changes, so docs lhc
ing material and social reality as the corrective of objective ,,tlrcr. There is no such thing as "pure' knowledge, nor a purc
Be it methodological or syntactical , the positivistic criterion of , .ltritirre method. "Rather, knowledgc conres to us through a nct
ing was a spiritual, not material one-which, in the eyes of crit rror k of biases, intuitions, innervations, sclf-correction\. anticipu-
theorists, identified positivism as a variant of idealism. Here lay tr('n\ and cxaggcrations-in shorl , through thc tightll-worcn and
196 A Cririquc ol Merhodokt
IiltrodLt(ti0tl 397

well grounded but by no means uniformly transparent medium of

aside the complex issue of whether predicates stand in a potentially
experience. "Te
dialectical relationship to an object, whether a copula is a dialectical
rnediator, etc.). Whether two entities stand in a dialectical relationship
The Dialectical "Method"
to each other is entirely an empirical question, particularly in the
framework of such Marxian modalities as "latency" and "tenden-
Dialectical thought is the attempt to break through the coercivc
cy." Juxtaposition, alliance, quantitative relation, abstract or remote
character of logic with the means of logic itself . (Theodor W. Adorno)
opposition, static opposition, mere mental construction and division
(e.g. odd and even numbers, north/south, etc.) can be modes of
Thinking does not get caught up in dialectics because it disdains
coexistence without dialectical negation, contradiction or mediation.
the rules of formal logic, but because it obstinately sticks to thesc
Such "abstract" contradictions are undialectical by definition (e.g.
rules; it employs these rules even to think about logic itself , instead of
that methods and material were not dialectically related in "traditional
breaking off their application at this crucial point. (Jrgen Habermas)
theory" was precisely what the critical theorists objected to).
"Abstract" in the Hegelian sense always implies an abstraction
To"put" things is very exactly and responsibly to do them. Ouf
from the constitutive context of an entity, i.e. an essential incomplete-
expression of them, and the terms on which we understand that,
Iress and the often concomitant assumption of a monadic "essence"
belong as nearly to our conduct and our life as every other feature of
rrpart from that content (for instance, a real self behind mere roles,
our freedom. (Henry James)
games, etc.). The individual abstracted frornhis socialcontext, whose
tcrms it needs to articulate or manifest itself, no longer stands in
Insofar as dialectics demonstrates the multiplicity, the process of
contradiction to the general, is no longer its negation-no longer
growth and the limits of historical forms, it implies taking a position
stands in any necessary relation at all. As the individual can only
vis--vis those forms of existence. Inasfar as any such historical
irrticulate itself in collective objective terms, ignoring or denying
reality contains a claim to duration, unequivocal identity , and validity
tlrose terms does not eliminate them but only leaves them operative
and attempts to realize that claim, this dialectical position is a critical
without modification by the individual. The old issue of individual
one by definition, and it must undermine any such claim. Concrele
spontaneity is a perfect case in point. Abstractly opposed to society,
dialectic as a positionless science is a contradiction in terms. (Herberl
irrsisting on our own essential "real self " that surfaces when uninhib-
itcd by thought and other (e.9. social) mediations, we would simply
rcproduce whatever we have been socialized into, which remains
The essence of dialectic is nothing but the systematic, methodic' scdimented in our consciousness without conscious correctives. Tftis
ally refined spirit of contradiction. (Hegel to Goethe) rs what we spontaneously reproduce when we retreat from consciously
lrandling the terms in and under which we act. The individual especial-
ly is a product of the general, Adorno insisted. Mediated conscious-
Although considered by friend and foe as the distinguishing approach
ncss is not bad, unreal consciousness but the only consciousness avail-
of critical theory, "dialectic" has remained a remarkably opquo
tble. The often indiscriminate rejection by the Left of "bourgeois
concept. Dialectic, of 'course, is neither an ideology nor is it a filetht
srrbjectivism" frequently fails to distinguish between abstracted, iilu-
in the sense of a reseach technique. Its dual claim-to be both faipful
sory, self-sufficient subjectivity, which is passive toward society, and
to, and critical of, empirical reallty-has given rise to a host of
rr subjectivity which is an active form and function of determinate
misunderstandings about its central terms. It might be usef ul to cprify
rrcgation. Even a false consciousness may be a true consciousness in
the concept of dialectlc in confrontation with the most common of
tlris sense and a harbinger of transcendence, a map of new territory.
these misunderstandings.
Where the distinction lies between these two kinds of subjectivity is
l) A trivial, but recently common misunderstanding assumes thl
rrot decided by fiat, for "how desirable and intrinsically valuable
everything that has two sides is therefore dialectical. (We will leavo
rrrtlividual preliminary stages may be . . . and what their his-
198 A Critique ol Merhodolo I tttr)duction 399

torical importance is in relation to the idea [of a realistic utopia] all this rcalization of such objects (this process being their only reality,
will be made clear only when the idea is brought to realization."s0 l\'larcuse proposed), their identity (i.e. their truth) was necessarily a
2) The most famous-and more serious-misunderstanding is rrratter of gradation, just as this truth had a necessary temporal dimen-
Kierkegaard's misreading of Hegel's triad describing the movemenl ',ron (as Aristotle had also insisted). Bloch, at one point, even spoke of
of historical reality: thesis-antithesis-synthesis-a simplistic formali- 'gradations of reality" in this respect. Although we experience
zation with which Hegel himself was rather unhappy and which rr()mentary stages of this process only, there is no need, although an
Kierkegaard misunderstood as a compromise, a kind of middle ground rrrderstandable pressure, to reify this stage. In view of these reifica-
between thesis and antithesis. Aided probably by Hegel's use of thc trons, theory must strive to "dissolve the rigidity of the object fixated
terms Vermittlung (mediation) and Versiihnung (reconciliation), rrr the here and now, dissolve it into a field of the possible and the
Kierkegaard overlooked that "mediation takes place in and through rt rtl . "83
the extremes"a: 1of the thesis and antithesis) and not as a simple give Repeatedly, like the great philosophical traditions rhey invoked,
and take befween the two. The new synthesis, therefore, is (nothing sr itical theorists warned ag4inst the "practice of defining" statiaally
but) the new working constellation of the thesis and antithesis, a new rrrr illusory, isolated essense (of which operational definitions are then
"working reality," so to speak. This new synthesis in turn can lrrl mere extensions) abstrapted from the ongoing historical process-
become a thesis which engenders its own new antithesis which may tlrough it be only the process of conceptual appropriation. To check
again lead to a new synthesis and so on. tlrc arbitrariness of these definitions, Horkheimer advised that we
3) Probably the most widespread'misunderstandihg, commonly '.1ould think of substantive opposites to clarify our working assump-
foun.I among "traditional" logicians, refers to what is meanttlr tho tr())s, rather than mere formal ones: e.g. instead of thecontradiction
so<alled "dalectipal contradiction" itsslf (i.e. thesis-antithesis), 'l straight vs. non-straight, the contradiction of straight vs. curved,
The traditional objection ''that two contradictory nevef
staf ements can ',trrright vs. interrupted, straight vs. zigzag; instead of matter/non-
be true together"s'z overextends the applicability of the principle of tho ilr:rl[er, matlerI mind, matter/anti-matter, etc., which arc empirical
excluded third. No one ever denied the validity of this principle within rrt tations. Which is the operative negation is likewise an empirical
forrnal logic. But, like Hegel, the critical theorists took seriously tho ,rrcstion and thus subject to continuous shifts. No single definition
postulate of traditional Iogic that its rules do not necessarily coincido rl, ,t's justice to these overlapping empirical md perceptual modalities;

with those of empirical reality. Dialectical logic which, according to rr( ) sum of them is omnipresent in each single context. Every predicate

Hegel, was to follow the movement of reality, was more comprehen. r', rr hypothesis deduced from our "working reason." A mere defini-
sivc and could include traditional logic as one way of organizin rrorr sds6". predicates o one frame of reference, i.e. one modality,
reality, albeit one whose arbitrariness was not checked by any neces. ,rrrrl thus does not define the (multimodal) object at all, it's "truth."
sary relation of its inherent structure to its referents. r \rr interesting exarnple of such a dialectical opposition-where the
The dialectical contradictions within empirical reality, the antith. tr r rt' s the whole-is the Copenhagen quantum interpretation asserting

eses wrl ich "negate" the theses, are rrot a matter of the absolut0 tlr;rt certain elementary particles are simultaneously matter and waves,
existcnce or non-existence of a predicate; the dialectical contradicti<m rr llrat it is impossible to measure the speed and location of these
of "a" is not "non-a" but "b," "c," "d," and so on-which, ln l,,rrlicles at the same time-the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle.
their attempt at self-assertion and self-realization, are all fighting f llrt sc discoveries refer back, as Heisenberg suggested, to the con-
the same historical space. Instead of assuming a complete package '.r I ut ive function of perspective as an integral feature of the object.)

predicates as either belonging or not belonging to the object, instead ol In the final analysis, lhe difference is between a forma'l (andthus
assuming pure qualities as the fixed identity of n object, criticgl
'rrscntially quantitative) concept of contradiction and a substantive
theorists assumed multiple modalities for any historical object, differ '
-a distinction philosophers of scieirce like Hempel readily adrnit.
ent parts of which are activated, repressed or created in different and lftrw form can be discussed without reference to e content of which
overlapping constellations. Moreover, in the process of histor ll r\ the form, remained mysterious to critical fhorists. But far from
'[r'" 400 A Critique ol Methotl<tlolY
Introduction 40t

"naive" consciousness, aconsciousness not yet (or no longer) "self-

rejecting formal logic, "a dialectr'cal theory . . . true to its principlcr,
conscious," still experiencing reality as something "out there" in its
will tend to retain the relative truths [!] of particular positions and
own right, yet somehow coinciding with our understanding. This
incorporate them into its own comprehensive theory."e
naive identity of subjective cognitive forms and objective content of
The universalistic claims of formal logic, logical positivism and
cxperience of reality is to be strictly distinguishedfrom its "negative
logical empiricism, and by the same token, we might add, of thf
image"* the ideological pretense of such an identity: that reason and
"copy theory" of perception, caused some rather embarrassing prob
rcality coincide in a given society. For all the utopian truth content of
lems. It proved difficult to demonstrate the connection between non'
this ideology, it conceals that any reality is usually far from rea-.
substantive, non-empirical categories and empirical reality. In orlof
to be more than an idiosyncracy of pure logicians and methodologisllt
By contrast the dialectical/productive totality is not one of indis-
formal logic and abstracted methodology had to imply, tacitly' I
tinguishable ingredients. The notion of unity, Plato had already ar-
corresponding theory of truth; much as positivists denied it,
gued, presupposes multiplicity and division. Non-identity is the very
needed to assume that the rules operative in positive reality coinc
precondition of reality as realization: the (subjective and objective)
with those of logic, and, more specifically, those of deductive
ingredients of a synthesis move at different paces and in different
ence. Otherwise it would be difficult to see why formal logic
tlirections, and the changing properties/predicates of the objects of our
abstracted methodology should be "more than an internal matter
cxperience reveal the situational contingency day by day. But without
working techniques of a few scholals,"8t as Marcuse had once
such temporal syntheses (from which we tend to quickly eliminate our
about the enterprise of the International Encyclopedia of :rctive contribution, converting it into a property of the object), with-
Science (founded by members of the Vienna circle, who most
out such self-objectifications with which, in tum, we interact as with
phatically proposed these positions). For all their (justified) critiquc
independent "alien" entities, reality would not be realization and
''identity philosophy " (i.e. , to simplify, the assumption of an
lristory would not move at all. Hegel had called the periods of non-
cal structure of mind and matter), positivism's affinity to this side
conflict, of happiness, the "dead" periods in history. A dialectical
Hegel, his weakest, remained hidden from their view. For, if
totality "realizes itself only through its parts, through the gap, through
was to have a cognitive dimension at all, it had to be cognition
rrlienation, reflection-in short, all these modes that are anathema to
something. If all cognitive categories are categories of reality as
icstalt theory,",, i.e. the gestalt notion of unity. The whole is neither a
then whatever we know is the whole truth and nothing but the truth I
rrrystical entity, nor are the parts self-sufficient qualitative monads,
the other hand, if the categories of empirical reality are also cogn
packages of static predicates ("determinations," as Hegel calls the
categories, there would be nothing we could not, or even do not know
rrodicates, the overlapping processual modalities we spoke of). Nor is
For critical theorists, however, the experience of non-i
t rntradiction itself the Heraclitean essence absolute idealism
between these two spheres (i.e. in the final analysis, of subject
glorified.8s The contradiction is not "resolved," but the abstract
object) was the starting point, and its admission a matter of i
,,rposition, the isolation of thesis/antithesis is transcended, absorbed
integrity. Every phenomenon we "know" is a synthesis (in rrrto a working synthesis, the new working reality we spoke of . The
Kantian sense); but we are not commonly aware of the socio-hi
r e ry frame of reference, (the reality, the truth) which made the poles
"a priori" which constitutes this synthesis; that we experiencc r,rrosites is thus transcended, while the identity of the poles is thus
assemblage of data as a unified phenomenon at all, is prima
rrrrrintained; as in transcending a double bind, dialectical thinking is a
evidence for our synthesizing activity. Unless we assume thal
r t'rrlization that things are opposite/mutually exclusive only in specif ic
coordinating/synthesizing categories are timeless (as Kant and Irlrrnes of reference.
him a certain positivism said), lags may develop, or rather are
4) The dynamic "contradiction" between non-identical mo-
present . If reality turns out not to fit the categories any more, lhlt
rrrcnts of a totality is therefore basically a "contradiction" between
not just an indication of the imperfection of categories, bul thc subjective and objective moments of the "constitution process,"
signals our discovery of the composite and constituted, i.e. "
ol reality as realization. Their temporary unity in the experienced
unity we had experienced. ,,lrjoct retains these antithetical aspects, although it synthesizes them
To an extent, therefore, the experience of unity is symptomallc
A Critique ol Methodolog lt tt t iluc tiott 103

into a working alliance. But the different components, in turn, de- r rrgisse, objectivity being what is experienced-lead Hegel to his
velop alliances with other such packages, which changes their internal l,rnous dictum that form is always that of its content. Form is a
composition, makes them non-identical with their own (previous) '\ronym (Inbegriff) of mediation, Adomo formulated. It explains
identity and so on. A dialectical unity is a unity (i.e. pattern) of rrlr'subjectivity cannot be a substance by jtself (but is the
form in
"opposites" and not the result of short-circuiting the tensio!, as ulrich we experience objects), and thus why the twe-subjectivity
contemporary, official Dialectical Materialism is wont to do. $l- ,rrrrl objectivity-are not separable like two substances but are
lapsed into the concept of an all-defining matter in motion as the rrrornents"/aspects of one and the same process.
substratum of reality (of which consciousness is but one manihsta- Rather than try ro eliminate the inevitable subjectivity opera$ve
tion), dialectic in this version appears exiled into an all-defining.,gnd ilt (,rr)' perspective or approach, therefore, we should ..bring this
fetishized objectivity-and is us effectively dissolved. No dialeolh ,rrbcctivity back to its objectivity,"e3 Adorno demanded, i.e. be seff_
without subjectivity; as negative, as the non-identical, as transcend- rcllcxive in our procedures. Methodologically, we should be inside
ence by definition, subjectivity is the motor of history. ,rrrrl outside the object simultaneously. The open-endedness of this
Nor is the dialectical relation a matter of mere interaction, iger- , ,,'rritive process (knowledge as growing consciousness) is an imper-
depende often haphazardly used to paraphrase the process, 1, , ti.n only if we use as a standard a closed system of informational
-terms relation cannot be described in terms of fixed
"The subject-object rrruts whos substantive irrelevance is the price paid for intemal
realities which are conceptually transparent and which move toward , ,,5 js[ggy.q
each other. "8e Rather, "dialectic is methodically the mutual negation Not how systematic a theory is indicates its maturity and quality
and production of the subjective and objective moments"m in'Sc r r , tr rrditional theory would have it) but ''what it includes and what. it
formation of concepts. yrt ludes." "The inconclusive dialectic does not lose the stamp of
As Adomo suggested, subjectivity is the form of the objegivc, trrrl . . . the critical and relativizing trait necessarily belongs to
the how (not the what) ol reality. As distinct from the objective ,,,,rrilion."es In other words, only dialectical reason is capable of
aspects, individual identity consists only of the act of transcendgncc ll'rrrg its own meta-reasen. "Dialectical logic does not suspend the
of these aspects, i.e. the activity of negation. Just like reason (as its rrlr: of understanding [Verstand]. Dialectical logic, having as ifs
"agent"), therefore, subjectivity is neither exclusively transcend I ,,1'1r t I the forms of movement of the progress of knowledge,
(as Fichte would claim), nor exclusively empiricl (as Dialectical tl,, r ollapse and restructuring of fixed systems and categories as part
Materialism would have it), nor a little of both, but it is both andrboth ,,t rr\ proper object domain."%
simultaneously. Our language, which distinguishes between "I" and l inally, bound up with the dialectic of subject and object is that
"me" is deceptive in this respect: not only the Cartesian object, thc ,,1 tlrt'ory and praxis, commonly misunderstood as the ..application"
"me" is empirical, but the "I" itself is too. The empirical knowl. ,,1 tlrt lheory. To apply a theory, however, presupposes the very gap

edge, i.e. what is "conceivable," delimits what the individual (tho tlr, ,rrrlication pretends to bridge. If , in fact, every new insight about
"sutrject") can, or even must do. "In Hegel, the productive activily , ,,lriect literally changes the identity of the object and thus
of the mind also and simultaneously appropriates its own product, jusl ,,lrrrr(le , expectation and action toward it, theory would be
adequate to
as the product appropriates [shapes] the subject. "er "Just as, in Kanl'l r,,rlrt\ precisely in the sense that Hegel had postulated: it would
terms, nothing is constituted without the subjective conditions of ,rrr,ly' follow the movcment of reality itself-as constituted by us_
reason as the constituting agent, no such agent or mental condition ,rr,,l rrould thus be the (our) consciousness of that reality, including
are even possible (so Hegel . . . adds) unless they be agents or condi, ,'rrr (lxrtenti?l) constitutive role it it. Such a theory would not need
tions of real individuals-who (as parts of the general) are themselvct ,r r | [ls. " This theory/consciousness as
reality already delimits
something more than just subjective."" The various experientiul t[, ,gg of possible, desirable relations that may obtain toward our
categories (including subjectivity) are thus formed through the vcry r r' ,rrron. At the same time, such delimitation, once conscious, means
object world they are fo order and explain. This reciprocity of form tlr rt rr t' have already transcended this stage, reaching a new perspec-
and content-subjectivity being the categories/planes of possiblc tr ' lront which our activity appears as a delimitation_a new
404 A Critique ol MethodologY lntroduction 40-l

not visible through a methodical screen built for past facts, is simply
stage of insight, of objectifications (of our subjectivity) etc' Thir
not "there" for them. Consequently, such central Marxian categories
famous dialectic of limits cannot know the concept of an application
the idea of praxis already contains the constitutive unity of subject and ls latency and tendency must remain opaque: "as far as empiricism is
object; in an applied theory, they must remain separate: an isolated concerned, tendency refers to probable behavior."rm In traditional
subject applies an idea as it sees fit to an equally isolated object theories there is little attempt, therefore, to construct logical utopias
( i e. tentative logical extensions of existing possibilities , whose exis-
domain-their relation remains arbitrary throughout' .

tcnce, critical theorists insisted, can be argued both theoretically and

The Dimension ol the Future crnpirically, through perfectly stringent analysis of the given) whose
"difference to an abstract utopia is that the possibility in question can
What used to be called bad utopianim-the arbitrary antl' lrc shown to be real at the present stage of the forces of production. ' ' '0r
thesis-has perhaps become the only utopia in a time when already thC II a certain affirmative thrust is built into current methodologies, they
possibility of any antithesis is threatened. (T. W. Adorno) rrray have to be modified, opened up: If a mode of thought reaches
lrcyond the extension of social life in its given form, the mode of
Empiricism confuses the concept of novelty with that of an rresentation is not prescribed either; rather, theory constructs empir-
inadequate prognosis. ( M. Horkheimer) ical elements into a total image which consciously reflects reality sub
tpecie of its own transcending interests.r@
Freedom is the only "fact" that "is" only in its creation; ll It is this interest in focusing not on what there is alone but on what
cannot be verified excePt by being exercised. ( H. Marcuse) tlrcre could very well be, which should make it the "goal of sci-
('nce . . . to cognize processesof whichthedimensionof thefuture is a
Thar things remain the way they are: that islhecatastrophe' (W, nccessary p&rt."'o Most of the time, it is true, the Frankfurtians
Benjamin) tlrcmselves did not analyze the present under the anticipation of a
toncretely specified better future, but under the historical aspect of
Traditional theorists like Merton have conceded negligence on the what has been, or is, preventing such a future. Nevertheless, a her-
of sociologists toward the less visible and the statistically rrrcneutic anticipation of its possibility, a cognitive interest in tran-
st cndence of all forms of heteronomy , is unmistakable. And what we
cant. The latter, of course, reveals the tacitly assumed
between quantity and significance (often mocked by Horkheim' wirnt to collect data for decides what data we collect; if we collect
while the former ignores that not all relevant modalities of objects tlrcm under the hypothesis that a different reality is possible, we will
Ioeus on the changeable, marginal, deviant aspects-anything not
rrrlcgrated which might suggest fermentation, resistance, protest, al-
tt'rnative-all the "facts" unfit to fit. Adomo insisted: "We do the
rrorld too much honor to think of it entirely as a system. Precisely
complement of the fatalistic and affirmative streak in contem rlose on whose thought and action any change-the only essential
scientism-"the mythic scientific respect for the liven."n tlring-depends, owe their existence to the inessential . . . to what
"As concerns the future," Horkheimer charged, "not ,rr'cording to the great laws of historical development, may turn outto
tion but induction is the characteristic mark of science. The lrc complelely coincidental. "'e
frequent something has been in the past, the more certain it will bo Not accidentally, anticipatory and cognitive forms of human
the future. . . . New forms of reality, especially those emerging lrt'lravior have been shunned as difficulties by the traditional social
the historical activity of human beings, lie beyond ',t icnces, which focus on past and existing variables of "influence"
rrthcr than on the "influence" of anticipation, or on forms of behavior
theory."ee Accordingly, "scientific prognoses rarely refer to 'si
r orrtrolled by consciousness rather than by quasi-"forces."ro5 The
icant changes', for, understandably, there is a lack of
data."e What is still in process, i.e. not yet classified by defini rrr,rtlel of humans as passive entities in a force field of variables
A Critiquc of

informing most contemporary research corresponds, of course,

cisely to that "prehistoric" form of socially unconscious behavi
Marx (and critical theorists) wanted to change-where people
Iike objects of nature, of uncomprehended forces. Given that
sciences increasingly become our only source of (supposedly reli
knowledge, and thus supposedly our only reliable guidelines On the Problem of Truth
dealing with these spheres, we may be facing increasingly
fulfilling object domains.
But the prehistory is over; we know the way things are to
Iargely the way we made them. As reality ceases to appear impe
trable and thus loses its mythical authority, as the superstitious By Max Horkheimer
in the way things ("naturally") are disappears, acquiescence s
spells active approval. Reality as is now needs reasons, legitimati
for being thus and not otherwise-the way it concretely could be,
against the current scientific fatalism, motives like dreaming,
(cf . Bloch's category of " docta spes"), "covetous anticipation"
assume a cognitive function in a less zealously restrictive science.
as we use our present perspective to look at the past, we might
the perspective of a possible future to examine the present. After all t )riginall,published inZeitschrift fr Sozialforschung, Vol. IV
is the business of the future to be dangerous, Whitehead had (I %5), Horkheimer's essay is part of a series of critical
Naturally, therefore, the established paradigm will denounce al , r tnfrontalions w,ith contemporar' philosophies and their social
tives to itself as "unscientific," just as any reality as is will rrtrplications.
attempts at transcending it as "unrealistic." In article is an exemplary exercise in a critical
a sense, the

If critical theorists heeded Marx's and Engels's dictum that ',tt'iology of

of knowledge. Beginning with the obvious co-existence
! only science is the science of history, they understood it in the senso t tttional and irrational human pursuits, this split itself becomes the
t what the Enlightenment called "conjectural history," or l,t tblem, rather than remaining the lactual premise, as t'or most of
raisonne, turned into the future. In their present form, the parti
I lttrkheimer's contemporaries. The division has grown to the same

disciplines were auxiliary and preliminary stages-although t \t(nf that rational investigation of the world has: the more the v,orld
necessity was emphasized time and again by the Frankfurtians, ltt t t)fie s tf onsparent, the more the secure orders disappear and the
they needed to have their function defined by what Merleau- t,tt )t'c the need for secure orders increases. Even-and in t'act
might have called a practical philosophy of history, or what ,'tttciall,-among the most relentless rationalists, we find the
I has called an experimental anthropology. The American soci t t'tt(liness to bracket out and maintain certain areas allegedly
Robert S. Lynd, a one-time member of the Institute, cited thi tnttt t'essible tO reason.
I proach as an exernplary program for the sciences: it should not bc
only concern to ask whether a hypothesis is true, possible or reali I lrt' philosophic thought of recent decades, shot through with contra-
we should, perhaps, also ask the other way around: "what sofl r lrr tions, has also been divided on the problem of truth. Two opposing
earth"r6 would it have to be in which this hypothesis (e.g. rrl unreconciled views exist side by side in public life and, not
describing possible situation) would be realistic. Only history
a rrrlretuently, in the behavior of the same individual. According to
verify such hypotheses-by realizing them. ,n( , cognition never has more than limited validity. This is rooted in
, ,l t'cl ive f act as well as in the knower. Every thing and every relation
rrl llrinss changes with time, and thus every judgment as to real


theorists never held. -ernphasize

reason as a critical and corrective force, and
thus did oppose the feishisml of facts m,

(uch concem with relevance to
r.-fetishize some Marxian assertions as timeless truths----exactly e charge he leveled
aEZinst Marcuse.)
Notes Critical theorists did differeniate certain forms and functions of the mind however.
"romantic critique th
one of these forms ce,
peitse of e critical the
quiet disappearance of the very dimensions of reason in charge of conceiving and
conslructing concfele altematives.
Critique of Methodologr Moreover, Coletti's misreading of the rather sophisticated analyses of the collapse
of the superstructure into the base in technological societies (certainly contestable in
parts) reveals his critique as a piece of propaganda as much as the company into which
he puts critical theorists: Bergson, Heidegger, Jaspers-not accidentally precisely the
men critical theorisls sharply criticized for the very points which Coletti levels against
them. Even a cursory reading of Horkheimer's and Marcuse's essays of the thirties, as
well as of Adorno's Husserl critique could have prevented Coletti's blunder.
fields of investigation, such as philosophy of science, sociology of science, and so on-
as if one could do science without the "luxury" of a metascience.
The merhodological concerns of critical theory, aiming ultimately at a kind rl 2. Max Horkheimer, Davn and Decline .Translaed by Michael Shaw Afterword by
socio-epistemology, hardly signal a recent retreat in the wake of political resignationt Eike Cebhadt. New York: The Seabury Press, 1978, p. 98.
for instance in the sense of Popper's acquiescence to social role divisions and hlr
subsequent advice to philosophers to make their contribution to politics "with thr 3. Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Attack on Metaphysics," inCriticalTheor'(New
weaponsof acriticolmethods." ConiecturesandRet'utations(N.Y.:HarperandRow York: Herder and Herder, 1972), p. 150.
ogical matters, there was rhuch less individual difference lha 4. Max Horkheimer, "Preface" to Zeitschrifr t'r Sozialorschung, Vol. I, No. l/2,
Inst than on political or esthetic onesi the generic "critical 'lr p. l.
largely representative, therefore, of an informalconsensusarticuMed,forthemosPltl
by Horkheimer and Marduse. For reasons of delineating he shared concerns, $r, 5. Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Ataack," pp. 183f.
therefore cut across the lines of individuals and essays.
6. "Traditional theory" was the inclusive term Hokheimer used for all "uncritical"
that in Adorno's and Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment, aswcllll
L It is true theories,especiallythevariantsofpositivism Cf.hisprogrammaticessay"Traditional
in Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man,lhere are passages which lend themselvor l0 and Critical Theory," in Critical Theor'.

7. Max Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical T\eory," p.246.

8. Herbert Marcuse, "Philosophy and Critical Theory," in Negorions (Boston:

ealie Metacritique ol Epistemology, the Dialectic oJ Enlightenmen refers lo DuF Beacon Press, 1969),p. 156.

9. Dropped.

10. Because "logical empiricism" was concerned almost exclusively with matters
of formal logic and methodology, Horkheimer called the term a misnomer.

ll. Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Anack," p. 185.

12. Max Horkheimer, "On the Problem of Truth," in his volume.

Ieged fetishization of reason and supposed opposition to "facts" areexemplary of lll
;half-informed accusation that critical theorists were anti-rational. Visibly upset by t 13. Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Attack," p. 172.
ppdating of some of Marx's critical concepts, Coletti strikes out at a position crll
r{.Ibtd., p. 146.
t4 A Cririque of Methodoltt Notes 5t5

15.lbitl., p. 182.
36. Thcodor W Adorno, M inimu ll[oralio (London: Ncw Left Bo<ks, 197 4), p )23.
16.Ibid., p. 164.
37. Max Horkheimer, first part of "Philosophie und Kritische Theorie" (Part,l by
r7.lbid. , p. tst . Herberl Marcuse), in Zcitschrilt, Vol. VI, p. 625.

18. Max Horkheimer, "Notes on Science and the Crisis," io Criical Theory , 38. Max Horkheimer, "Die gegenwrtige Lage der Sozialphilosophio und dic Auf-
is clear, Horkheimer wrote, "that neither the achievemenls of science per se, nor th gabcn cines Instituts fr Sozialforschung," in Sozictlphilosophische Studiair (Frank[urt
improvement of industrial methods, are immediately identical with human progress. ll am Main: Fischer-Athcnium, 1972), p. 42.
is obvious that human beings can emotionally and mentally impoverish regardleSs of lhO
progress of science and inustry." "The Social Function of Phitosophy," in Crititl 39.Ibid , p. 43
Theor', p. 259.
40. In the I9-50s, Horkheimer stillproposed a "Kantian sociology "-testimony to thc
19. Friedrich Nietzsche, "Aus dem Nachlass der Achtzigerjahre," in Werke ,Y ol.1ll, impact thc Kantian question rctaincd as a ke clement of the critical approach.
e<titec.l by Karl Schleckta (Mnchen; Hanser, 1966), p. 814.
41. Theodor W Adorno, "Subject and Object," in this volunre.
20. Theo<lor W Adorno, "Thesen zur Kunstsoziologie," in Kr)lncr Zeitschrilt lilr
So:iologie und Soialpslthologie, March, 1961 , p 91. 42.Max Horkhermer, "Traditional and Critical Theory," p 203.

21. Theodor W. Adorno, Zur Metakritik der Erke nntnistheori (Stuttgart: Kohlhutt' 43. Max Horkheimer, Anlngc dcr brgcrLithcn Gcscltichrsphiloxtphic (Frankfurt
mer, 1956), p. 86. l97l), p 78; Horkheimer hcre quotcs Vico hinrscll.
am lr{ain: Fischer,

22. Johnl)ewey, Srudies in Logicol Theor \Chicago: Universily ofChicago Prcrr, 4.Ibid., p. s6.
I903), p 61.
45. Friedrich Nietzsche, ''Aus dcrn Nachlass dcr Achtzigcrjahre," p 8l.l
23. Theodor W. Adorno, "soziologie und empirischc Forschung," in ErnstTopitrelt
cd., Logik der Sozial isscnschutr (Kln/Berlin: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, l97), I, 46. Max Hokheinrer, Noti;cn 1950 bis 1969 utttl Dmmtrung, cdited by Wcrncr
523. Brcde (Frankfurl am Main: Fischcr, 1914), p 219.

24. Moritz Schlick, "Uber den Begriff der Ganzhcit," in Logik , p 222.
47. The concomitanr assumption of an ahistorical human nature-a projection of thc
experienccd immutability and repetitiveness of the ph1 sical universe thc dcclararion ol a
25. Max Horkhcimer, "Maerialism and Metaphysics," in Critical Thcor, p 4l
cerlain slage of conrciousness as being reason per se seemed unequivocally rcgressivc
.'Soziologie" to critical theorists, as it curbed-in rhe self-image of humans u,ho accepted it- thc
26. Theodor W. Adorno, p 514
polential, and even the wiJJingness, to transcend and remake their situation
Vulgar Marxist teleologics which insistcd on thc universal applicability o1 thc
27. Max Horkheimer, "The f .atcst Atrack," p l5lt in Critk.uL Tfuor.
categories of the Crititluc of Politit'ul Econom' were another favorite target along thcse
lines (Evenhistorical nlatcrialismitself wouldceasetobethe "correct" theorl,,criticol
2B.lbid , p t14. theorists insisted: its catcgories would become hopefully irrelevant in the now
society, obsolete because realizetl.)
29.lbid , p. t42.
48. Max Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Thcory," in Crititul Thutrt ,p 138.
30. "Traditional and Critical Theory," p 200
Cf Paul Lazarsfeld's t1'pical nristake which C Wright Mills uas to share in seeing
Adorno's diatribes against certain kinds of "mindless empiricism"-as an anti-cntpir-
3l.lbid , p 203
ical attitude pcr se But Adomo distinguished which critiquc was needcd in which
context: confronted with the lask of content analysis which did not qucsiion, let alone
32. Horkheimer praised Husserl for instancc, for exposing "the philosophical colttl' explain the origin and relcvrnce of its own categories, Adorno chided this naive brand oI
quenccs of regarding thc purc corporeal things of physics as abstracted frotlt ttll
empiricism for simply employing these reifications instead of investigating lhem In
subjective perspectivc ... just as if they were concrete realities in themselves." "'l'lll
Cermany, after thc Aurericin cxilc, he defended American-style empiricism against
Latest Artack," p 146, [ootnote 15.
entrenched idealist traditions. And when hard empirical research swayed Cermany, he
anempted aSain to prcvent this (or any particular) approach from assuming a monopxrly
33. Alfred Schitz, Collectcd Papcrs (Den Haag, 1962), Vol l, p. 53.
onresearch Lazarsfeld'sownadmissionthathemaynothaveunderstoodwhatcritical
theory was all about, or even what the "dialectical melhod" was, casts a curious light
34, Max Horkheirner, "On the Problcm of Truth" on his resentful suggestion that it may merely be the "hypnolic effect" of Adorno's
languagc "which might . - explain some o[ thc attraclions his publications have today
35. Zcirschrit't, Vol, Vlll, p. 227
for many young Cerman students " Paul Lazarsfeld, QuuLitativ'e Anulsis (Boston:
5t6 A Cririque o! Methodolog 5t7

ld not have been

ld would want to
either merelY an Remarks like Horkheimer's, thal reason has been reduced to understanding, conse-
quently make little sense to an English-speaking audience, and explanatory paraphrases
seem unavoidable.
Reason, for Kant, is th,l capacity to judge (qwe reason) or act (praclical reason) in
49. Max Hokheimer, "Materialism and Metaphysics", p' 24' accordance with principles. The concept of reasongoesback tohe ideaof ar immanent
order of the world (Anaxagoras's nons) objective and independent of human percep-
50. bid., pp 39ff. tion. ln the human mind, is order and its principles precede the use of understanding;
wiout an empirical content of its own (according to Kant), reason conains the first
51. Max Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Theory," p' 227
' fn' 2O' principles, the regulative and orientational ideas. Understanding, on the other hand, is
the capacity to order and conceptualize the empirical world. It contains the categories
52. FtanzBorkenau, "Zur Soziologie des mechanistischen wettbildes,'' Zeitschrilt (which Kant thought were immutable, fixed in number and common to all humans) for
Vol. I, p.3ll. empirical classification of sense data. These categories enable us to coordinae amor-
phous sense data into "objects."
53. Cf ., for instance, Theodor W. Adorno, MinimaMoralia, p. 63:
of man into his faculries is a projection of the division of labor onto its pretended 62. Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Attack," p. l8l.
to greater
substance, inseparable from th interest in deploying and manipulating them
advantage." 63. Albrecht Wellmer, Criical Theor of Socier' (New York: Herder and Herder,
(New t96Q, p. 12.
54. Theodor w. Adomo and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment
York: SeaburY Press, 1972), P. 5'
64. Max Horkheimer, Eclipse of Reasor (New York: Seabury Press, 1974), p. 128.
..The sociology of Knowledge and ltsconsciousness," in
55. Theodor w. Adomo,
65. Ibd., p. 134.
this volume.
6. Theodor W. Adomo, "Aspekte," ii Drei St dien zur Hegel (Frankfurt am Main:
Suhrkamp, 1963), p. 57.

67. Max Horkheimer, "Materialismus und Moral," in Kr'ische Theorie (Frankfurt

am Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 1968) Vol. I, p. 93.

68, Herbert Marcuse, "Review of he International Encyclopedia of UniJied Sci-

1951). ence," in ZeitschriJt, Vol. VII], p, 229.

57. Herber Marcuse, "Philosophy and Critical Theory," p' 136' 69. Herbert Marcuse, "Philosophy and Critical Theory," p. 154.

70. Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia, p.76.

71. Max Horkheimer, "The Social Function," p. 269.

72. Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Attack," p. 162.

73. Herbert Marcuse, "Review oi he Inlernational Encyclopedia," p.231.

'n Zeitschrilt, Vol. IX' p. 486'
Meoning ol Truth,"
74. Max Horkheimer, "Zum Begriff der Vernunft," in Theodor W. Adorno and Max
59. Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Attack," p. 178' Horkheimer, Sociologica II (Fru*furt am Main: Europische Verlagsanstalt, 1962),p.
0. Herbert Marcuse, "Review of John Dewey's Theory ol valuation," in Zeitschrllt
75. Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia, p. 69.
lr Sozia$orschung,Yol. IX, P. l't4.
76. Theodor W. Adorno, "Blochs Spuren," in Noten zur Literarar, Vol II (Frankfurt
61. In theEn s seldombecome themallo
am Main: Suhrkamp, 1965), p. 140.
in philosophy ntian dislinction belwccn
Virnunft nd e it at the beginning.of thc
77. Herbert Macuse, "Review of John Dewey's The Theoryol Inquir'," in
lgth century, , never really caught on' Zeifschrift, Vol. VIII, p. 221.
518 A Critique ol Methodoktg' Notes 5t9

79. Theodor W. Adorno, Minimo Moralia, p. 8O. 103. Theodor W- Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic ol Enlightcnment, p. 4l
104. Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia, p. l13.
80. Max Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Theory," pp. 2l9f .

f05. Cf. Charles Bolton, "Is Sociology a Behaviorial Science?" in Pacific Sociologi-
81. Theodor W. Adorno, "Aspekte," p 20. cal Revien', No 6 (Spring, 1963), p. 6. Quoted from L. T. Reynolds and J. M.
Reynolds, The Sociolog'of Socktlog, (New York: McKay, 1970), p. 122: "'lheaim
82. Karl Popper, Conjectures and Relutations, p.316. of control implies, almost by delinition, an effort to restrict and, ideally, to eliminate
ahernalives of the subject A social science which takes control as a major criterion for
83. Theodor W. Adorno, "Soziologie und empirische Forschung," p. 512. scientific success thercby has a built-in bias to focus atlention upon those so-called
independent variables which human subjects are leasr likely to be ablc to conveil nto
84. Max Horkheimer, "The Social Function of Philosophy," p. 255. alternatives. If evidencc to dafe meu'rs anything, we can say that this focus leads to a
concenfration upon biochemical, unconscious, pre-social and non rational influences
85. Herbert Marcuse, "Review of lhe Internotional Enc'clopedio," p. 228. ad a studied ignoring ol the pror:esses which make human beings as cognitive, self-
conscious, creative, act-construcfing creaturcs."
8. Theodor W. Adorno, "Subject and Ob.ject," in this volume. 106. Robert S. Lynd, Ktnn'ledge t'or What? (Princeton: Princcton University Press,
t970), p.204.
87. Theodor W. Adorno, "Aspekte," p. 16.

8E. Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics (New York: Seabury Press, I973), p. 5. On the Problem Of Truth

89. Max Horkheimer, "Materialism and Metaphysics," p. 29. l. Ch. Sigwart, Logit',Freiburg im Breisgau 1889, vol l, p. lll.
90. Theodor W. Adorno, "Aspekte," p. 22. 2. Kant Prolegomcna #13, Nore III, Akademie-Ausgabe, vol. lY, p 293.

91. Ernst Bloch, Subjekt Objekt (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1962), p. 42. 3. Husserl, "Formale und transzendentale Logik" in Juhrbuch fr Philosophic und
phiinomenologische Forschung, vol. X, Halle 1929, p 241 .
92. Theodor W. Adorno, "Aspekte," p. 21.
4. Cf. "Materialismus und Meraphysik," p. 6l ff.
93. Theodor W. Adomo, "Subject and Object," in rhis volume.
5.J. S. Bixler, ReligioninthePhilosoph'olWilliamJames, Bosron 1926, p. 126ft.
94. Cf . Stephen Toulmin, The Uses of Argument (Crnbridge: Cambridge Universily
Press, 1974), p. 255: "Philosophers have set up ideals of 'logical' necessity, 'logical' 6. Witliam James, Human Immortality, Boston and New York 1898, p.27.
validity, and 'logical' possibility which can be applied to arguments outside the narrow,
analytic field only at the preliminary, consistency-checking stage----or else by an 7. F. C. S. Schiller, Ritldles on the Sphinx, London 1891, p. 295.
illogical extension. Substantial arguments in natural science, ethics and elsewherc,
have been severely handled and judged by philosophers, solely on the grounds of nol 8. Hegel, preface to Phnomenologie des Geistes, vol 2, p. 47.
being (what they never pretended to be) analytic; and eir quite genuine meris havo
been accounted negligible as compared with that initial and inevitable sin." 9. Op. cir., p. 73

95. Max Horkheimer, "On the Problem of Truth," in this volume. 10. Hegel, Vorlesungen ber die Aesthetik in vol. 12, p. 146 tf.
96. Ibid. ll. Op. cir., p. 147.

97.Max Horkheimer, "The Latest Attack," p. 144. 12. Trendelenburg, Logischc Unrersuchungan, Leipzig 1870, vol. I, p. 42 tf .

9E. Ibid., p 16l. 13. Cf. Hegef, Vorlesungen bcr die Philosophie dcr Ceschichte in ibid., vol. Il, p.
99. Ibid., p. 149.
14. Hegef, Phdnomenologie dcs Geistes in vol 2, p 300.
l). Max Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Theory," p- 219.
15. Hegel, Enzglopridie, #60.
101. Max Horkheimer, "The Lates Attack," p. 162.
16. Cf. Hegel, Wissenschat't tlcr Logik in vol. 5, p. 27.
102. Max Horkheimer, "Zum Problem der Voraussage in den Sozialwissenschaftcn,"
in Kritische Theorie, Vol. I, p. I I l. 17. Husserl, Formcle und Tronscendentula Logik, supra, p. 140.
Bibliogroph s29

Freedom (1942), Be,ond he Chains ol lllusion: My Encounter withMarx and

Freud (1962), Morx's Concept of Mon (1961), The Anaromy ol lluman Destruc-
t ness (1913), The Art of Loving ( 1 956), The Forgotten Language (1956), Man

for Himself (1947 , The Revolution of llope: Trward o Humanized Technolog'

(1974), You Shall Be As Cods: A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testoment &
hs Trodition (1966)

Max Horkheimer ( 1895- 1971), a philosopher by rraining, became the second direcror
Biographical Notes of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research in 1931. He, if anyone, was the
founder of critical theory His major works are the essays of the 1930s defining the
aims, scope and method of critical theory (cf the selection Critical Theor,,New
York: Herder and Herde r, 1972) utd two books published in 1947 on what he later
called the critique of instrumenal reason (cf. Eclipse of Reason, New York:
Seabury, 1974; and a second work written with Theodor W Adorno, Dialectic of
Enlightenment, New York: Herder and Herder,1972).

Otto Kirchheimer (1905-1965) was a co-worker of the Institute for Social Research
from 1934 to 1942 However, his political background, left Social Democracy,
differed from that of most critical theorists His major interest before, during and
after his collaboration with Horkheimer and others was relatively constant: the
Theodor W. Adorno (1903 1969) studied both philosophy and composition (thelatter relationship of politics to constitutional and criminal law. Two major books by
with Alban Berg). He eventually became co-director of the Franl<furt Institute for Kirchheimer, Pr nishment and Social Structure (1939) auld Political Justice (1961)
Social Research, which he joined in 193 I (officially in 1938). His inlerests rangcd are available in English, as is the importantessay volume, Polirjcs, Law andSocial
from empirical s<rial research and sociology of art to the meta-theory of dialectics Change (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969).
and philosophical esthetics. Nevertheless, the bulk of his life work, presented in
essay form, is located at the fluid boundary between sociology and philosophy ol
culture. The major works of Adorno available in English ae Minima Moralia Leo Lowenthal (born in l9??) is a veteran of the Institute and one of its few surviving
(London: New trft Books, 1974), Negative Dialectics (New York: Seabury, members (together wih Macuse and Fromm). He teaches in the sociology
1973) Philosophy of Modern Music (New York: Seabury, 19'73), Prisms (Lo- department of the University of California, Berkeley His major works in English
don: Neville Spearman, 1969), and Introduction to the Sociolog o/Mnsic (New are'. Literature and lhe Image oJ Man (1957), Literafure, Popular Culture, ond
York: Seabury, 1976). Society (1961), Prophets of Deceit (with Norbert Guterman, 1949, and Culture
and Social Behaulor (with Seymour M. Lipset).

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), a victim of European fascism, has now come into his Herbert Marcuse (bom in 1898) is the best-known crilical theorist outside Germany.
own as one of the century's most important literary critics as well as akey neo' His clea and courageous association with New Left politics made him into
Marxist theorist of culture. Never an official member of the Institute, he was most something of a public figure in the 1960s in West Cermany, the U.S. and France.
imporlant for Adomo in particula as an older friend, a theoretical predecessor and Marcuse joined Horkheimer's Institute in i933 with a political background in
a <lebating partner. Three Benjamin volumes are available in English, Illuminu extreme left Social Democracy (till l9l9) afier a period of study with Husserl and
lins (New York: Schocken, 1969), Understanding Brect (London: New Lclt Heidegger. Most of Marcuse's major articles of the 1930s ae available under the
Books, 1973) ad Chorles Baudelaire (London: New lrft Books, 1973) A titles Negations (Boston: Beacon, 1968) and Studies in Critical Philosophy
further volume of essays is scheduled to be published in 1978 by Harcourt Brcc (Boston: Beacon, 1972). His best known books are Reason and Revolution (New
Jovanovich, but much of his work, including the book on the tragic plays of thc York: Oxford, l94l), Eros and Civilization (Boston: Beacon, l95l), Soviet
baroque (coming from New Left Books), still remain unpublished in English. Marxism (New York: Columbia, 1958) and One-Dimensionol Man (Boston:
Beacon, 1964).
Erich Fromm (bom in 1900) is a psychoanalyst and philosopher Brought up in a
religious Jewish milieu, he was one of e pioneers of aFreud-Marxsynthesis Ilc Frederick Pollock (1894-1970) a political economist, was a close friend of Max
eventually associated himself with the "revisionist" wing of psychoanalysis zurtl Horkheimer. His major works dealt with the political, social and economic
the "humanist" interpretation of Marx. He is still a member of the Freuditrr consequences of the replacement of maket by planning Among these were Die
Washington Psychoanalytic Association, a member of the FranKurt Institute frorrr Planwirtschaltlichen Versuche in der Sowjetunion, 1917-1922 (1929) and the
the early 1930s, and contributor to rc Zeitschrit't fr Socialforschung beginning essays of the 1930s and 1940s now collected under the tfle, Die Stadien des
with its first issue and also to the important Studies on Authority and the Famil Kopitalismus (Munich: Beck Verlag, I 975). Pollock's best-known work after the
(1936); his connection to the Institute lasted until 1939. Major works in Englislt: war is The Economic and Social Consequences of Automation (Oxford: Oxford
The Dogma of Christ (1963), The Crisis of Psychoanalysis (197O), Escape [nnt University Press, 1957).