Discourse Ethics

Authored by: Maeve Cooke

The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138333246
eBook ISBN: 9780429443374
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429443374-5

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Abstract

This chapter addresses the disjunction between theory and political praxis in Adorno’s critical social theory. It attributes this disjunction to Adorno’s deep lack of confidence in the power of critical theory to bring about social and political change for the better, at least in the current historical conditions and, connected with this, a deep lack of confidence in collective action aimed at bringing about such change. I draw out the troubling implications of this for political protest. Against Adorno’s position, which I describe as quietist and potentially authoritarian, I argue that even in the current historical conditions we must encourage individual and collective efforts to bring about social and political change for the better. Such efforts include forms of political protest such as civil disobedience. I argue, furthermore, that critical social theory itself must be seen as an agent for social and political transformation.

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