The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)

The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)

Martin Jay

Language: English

Pages: 382

ISBN: 0520204239

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Franz Neumann, Theodor Adorno, Leo Lowenthal—the impact of the Frankfurt School on the sociological, political, and cultural thought of the twentieth century has been profound. The Dialectical Imagination is a major history of this monumental cultural and intellectual enterprise during its early years in Germany and in the United States. Martin Jay has provided a substantial new preface for this edition, in which he reflects on the continuing relevance of the work of the Frankfurt School.

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of rational and irrational motivations which are essentially to be kept apart. c) This means, methodologically, that our psychological analyses lead us the deeper into a social sense the more they abstain from any reference to obvious and rational socio-economic factors. We will rediscover the social element at the very bottom of the psychological categories, though not by prematurely bringing into play economic and sociological surface causations where we have to deal with the unconscious,

half-moralistic and half-cynical, of human nature; projectivity.73 That such a type did in fact exist was not the issue in question. As Adorno later admitted: we never regarded the theory simply as a set of hypotheses but as in some sense standing on its own feet, and therefore did not intend to prove or disprove the theory through our findings but only to derive from it concrete questions for investigation, which must then be judged on their own merit and demonstrate certain prevalent

I940’s. The Institut, it will be recalled, had been launched with the intention of synthesizing a broad spectrum of disciplines. Its founders had also hoped to integrate speculation and empirical research. And finally, they had sought to overcome the academic isolation of traditional theory from its practical implications without at the same time reducing speculative thought to a utilitarian tool of polemical interests. In short, although criticizing the adequacy of orthodox Marxism, they had not

study of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Vico, and other early bourgeois philosophers of history, served as Horkheimer’s scholarly credentials for his new position. With the accession of Horkheimer, then only thirty-five, to its directorship in July, 1930, the Institut für Sozialforschung entered its period of greatest productivity, all the more impressive when seen in the context of the emigration and cultural disorientation that soon followed. In January of 1931, Horkheimer was officially installed in

existing outside history. Truth, Horkheimer and his colleagues always insisted, was not immutable. And yet, to deny the absoluteness of truth was not to succumb to relativism, epistemological, ethical, or otherwise. The dichotomy of absolutism and relativism was in fact a false one. Each period of time has its own truth, Horkheimer argued,96 although there is none above time. What is true is whatever fosters social change in the direction of a rational society. This of course once again raised

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