Critical Theory: The Essential Readings

Critical Theory: The Essential Readings

Critical Theory: The Essential Readings

Critical Theory: The Essential Readings


David Ingram is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, USA. He is the author (with Jennifer Parks) of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Ethics.


Critical Theory: The Essential Readings is designed to provide a survey of the most important writings by critical theorists and their critics. The selections ave been chosen for their accessibility to undergraduate and graduate students who have had little or no exposure to critical theory. (In the case of Adorno, this consideration weighed against excerpting selections from his late masterpieces, Negative Dialectics and Aesthetic Theory.) The choice and sequence of subheadings have also been designed to facilitate accessibility. In general, more difficult topics of foundation and method follow those devoted to social analysis and ideology critique. This organization roughly corresponds to the chapter headings of the companion text, Critical Theory and Philosophy. Ideally, the selections in the anthology should be read in conjunction with the textbook, especially at the introductory undergraduate level. The introduction offers a sense of the continuity, breadth, and diversity of the selections presented.

For the sake of brevity, we focus primarily on what are unquestionably the four major representatives of critical theory: Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and Jürgen Habermas. As it turns out, they were also the ones who most devoted themselves to working out the philosophical justification of critical theory.

In some cases the original pieces were too long to be included in their entirety and were therefore excerpted. We have attempted to preserve maximum continuity in the overall flow of the argument.

David Ingram Julia Simon-Ingram Loyola University of Chicago Washington University June 1, 1990 . . .

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