The Critique of Instrumental Reason
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Members and affiliates of the Institut für Sozialforschung, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Leo' Löwenthal, Friedrich Pollock, and Walter Benjamin, developed their theory at a time when the disillusionment with the first experiment of socialism in the Soviet Union, and especially the experiences of European Fascism and the destruction of European Jewry, had blocked off all hopes for a revolutionary transformation of capitalism from within. 1 Critical theory was confronted with the task of thinking the 'radically other'.
In his 1971 Foreword to Martin Jay's The Dialectical Imagination, Horkheimer wrote: 'The appeal to an entirely other [ein ganz Anderes] than this world had primarily social-philosophical impetus. . . . The hope that earthly terror does not possess the last word is, to be sure, a non-scientific wish'. 2 Here Horkheimer is drawing a distinction between philosophical and scientific truth, and ascribing to philosophy the task of thinking 'the entirely other'. In response to the discussion generated in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung by the 1937 publication of Horkheimer's 'Traditional and Critical Theory' essay, Marcuse formulates this point even more poignantly:
When truth is not realizable within the existent social order, for the latter it simply assumes the character of utopia. . . . Such transcendence speaks not against, but for truth. The utopian element was for a long time in philosophy the only progressive factor: like the constitution of the best state, of the most intense pleasure, of perfect happiness, of eternal peace. . . . In critical theory, obstinance will be maintained as a genuine quality of philosophical thought. 3