Marx and the Postmodernism Debates: An Agenda for Critical Theory

By Lorraine Y. Landry | Go to book overview

believes, promises to make accessible a more comprehensive notion of communicative reason in a truly unifying emancipatory praxis.


NOTES
1.
David Rasmussen, Reading Habermas, p. 113.
2.
Stephen White, Political Theory, p. 12.
3.
Gyorgy Markus, Language and Production: A Critique of the Paradigms ( Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1986), p. xii.
4.
Markus, Language and Production, p. xii.

According to Markus, the tradition of German Idealism as a whole is commonly characterized by a search for a new principle of rationality able to meet the crisis of the Enlightenment. Among what is "in crisis" are Enlightenment views of reason, subjectivity and universalism as characterized in Chapter 1. The Enlightenment view of reason as a clear light or arbiter of the given, of subjectivity (whether in its Cartesian or Lockean forms) as foundational for knowledge, and of the universalism of reason as some species of "transcendental unity" had been breaking up under sustained internal criticism by the time of the German responses to the "crisis of reason." Markus remarks: "Kantian criticism had already been a response to the challenge laid down by Hume and Rousseau, the two thinkers who, within the very framework of the Enlightenment, critically destroyed its fundamental belief in the autonomy of abstract- individual reason as the fulcrum for both the theoretical comprehension of the physical and moral universe and for the practical establishment of a social world of freedom and common interest," Practical-Social Rationality in Marx: A Dialectical Critique, Dialectical Anthropology 4(4), 1979, p. 257.

Kant's efforts in meeting these two challenges to his "dogmatic slumber" prefigured the dual problem which faced subsequent German philosophy. Namely, the dual problem of its struggle to find a middle way between the reduction of reason to its mere empirical employment and the Romantic ideal of an organic expressive immediacy beyond reason. Kant's most pithy response, "What is Enlightenment?," asserts a view of autonomous subjectivity expressed as rational agency deployed in independence from authority and tradition.

This freedom to act in accordance with reason's dictates is further developed by Hegel in his construing increases in freedom as likewise increases in knowledge, such that freedom/knowledge is revealed to be the essence of human beings. In struggling to articulate a new principle of reason, Hegel intend-ed that it should maintain both the principle of autonomous rational subjectivity and allow for the substantive freedom of human beings in communities of common interest.

Hegel's mediation of the claims of individuality and the claims of universality is effected by a dual transformation within German idealism. That is, the transitions from (1) the primacy of the theoretical to the primacy of the practical and from (2) the primacy of the empirical consciousness to the primacy of the intersubjective functions constitute the new principle of rationality. Hence, despite variations in the explication of the principle, Markus notes that German idealism now conceptually requires "the underlying assumption equating practical intersubjectivity with reason in itself as superindividual subject," p. 258. The requirement consists in the fact that only by this assumption is the

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Marx and the Postmodernism Debates: An Agenda for Critical Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xiii
  • Chapter 1 the Project of Modernity 1
  • Notes 23
  • Chapter 3 Derrida 45
  • Notes 58
  • Chapter 4 Foucault 67
  • Notes 76
  • Notes 95
  • Chapter 6 a Fruitful Tension Approach 105
  • Notes 126
  • Chapter 7 Marx and the Postmodernism Debates 141
  • Notes 156
  • Chapter 8 an Agenda for Critical Theory 169
  • Notes 191
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 227
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