Critical Theory and Philosophy

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Analysis, Philosophy and the Challenge of Critical Theory: Michael Spitzer’s Music as Philosophy: Adorno and Beethoven’s Late Style

Analysis, Philosophy and the Challenge of Critical Theory: Michael Spitzer’s Music as Philosophy: Adorno and Beethoven’s Late Style

‘new musicology’ of the 1990s persistently confused an American institutional dispute for a global rearrangement of scholarly priorities. The long-term consequence has been the imposition of a postmodern musicological mainstream, which imitates, at a distance, similar institutionalizations in literary theory and philosophy, and which projects geographically circumscribed institutional structures as if they were scholarly universals. Despite protestations of pluralism, Taruskin’s hugely impressive history is likewise ultimately and pointedly world-historical, charting the rise and fall of the ‘literate’ Western tradition over a millennium, and occasionally rearranging its furni- ture to accommodate revised geographical and style-historical priorities. And even the casual observer could not fail to spot the persistent North American tilt of the later chapters: Charles Ives receives 47 pages of sustained attention, whilst Elgar goes unmentioned except for a passing reference in an estimation of Ives’ influences, Sibelius becomes a mere adjunct to Roy Harris and the American symphonists, and Vaughan Williams only makes it as far as the introduction, and then as part of an apology of omission. This is not quite Grout and Palisca’s preposterously overstated ‘American twentieth century’, but the inclination is the same. 61 To put the case bluntly:
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Subjectivity and critique: A study of the paradigm shift in critical theory

Subjectivity and critique: A study of the paradigm shift in critical theory

Habermas combines his ideas on the “privileging” and the “fundamentally” of particular phenomena in the world with the narrative of world- encompassing forms or modes of rationality, that is, with the “paradigm shift” narrative in the strict sense. For the moment, however, we have established the basis for at least a rough and provisional clarification of the meaning of the initially rather hermetic claim which we declared it, in our introduction, to be our aim to investigate and critique : Habermas’s claim that first-generation Critical Theory “foundered on the exhaustion of the paradigm of the philosophy of consciousness" and that the realization of Critical Theory’s original intentions is only possible where this “consciousness-philosophical paradigm” is exchanged for the “paradigm of the theory of communication”. The “foundering” to which Habermas refers is the theoretical shipwreck which, in Habermas’s view, is the only correct description of the fate already by definition suffered by any theory which has arrived at the conclusion that social subjects are no more than “component parts of the machinery”. As we have seen, Habermas considers this fate to have been one common to all the “philosophies of the subject” dominating high modern European thought. This conclusion was an inevitable one given the premisses of the “philosophy of subjectivity” itself. If Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s post-1940 work made this idea its increasingly dominant “leitmotif, this was only a sign of the extraordinary intellectual consistency of the social theory developed within the “subject-philosophical” paradigm by members of the early Frankfurt School. As Habermas remarked in an interview given at the time of the publication of the “Theory of Communicative Action” : “What I consider Adorno’s greatness, what gives him his position in the history of philosophy, is the fact that he was the only one to develop remorselessly and spell out the paradoxes of this form of theory construction, of the dialectic of enlightenment that unfolds the whole as the untrue. In this sense of critical insistence, he was one of the most systematic and effective thinkers I know. Of course, one can draw various conclusions from the results. Either one presses on in the illuminating exercise of negative philosophy...or, on the other hand, one takes a step back and says to oneself: Adorno has shown that one must go back to a stage before the dialectic of enlightenment because, as a scientist, one cannot live with the paradoxes of a self- negating philosophy.” 17
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Günther Anders’ Undiscovered Critical Theory of Technology in the Age of Big Data Capitalism

Günther Anders’ Undiscovered Critical Theory of Technology in the Age of Big Data Capitalism

Günther Anders (1902-1992) was an Austrian philosopher, critical theorist, political activist, and a writer of poems, short stories and novels. His works on the critical theory of technology have remained rather undiscovered. His main work Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen (The Antiquatedness of the Human Being) appeared in two volumes and has thus far not been published in English. This essay reviews key aspects of Anders’ works and uses them to critically assess big data capitalism. It first discusses Anders’ concept of the Promethean gap; the gap between what humans can produce with the help of technologies and the capacity of imagining the negative effects these technologies can have. The essay also engages with Anders’ analysis of commercial television and radio. Anders sees capitalism as having catastrophic potentials. He argues that Auschwitz and Hiroshima are two symbols of 20th-century catastrophism. The article discusses Anders’ letter to Klaus Eichmann, the son of Adolf Eichmann, who was in charge of the organisation of the displacement and deportation of Jews in the Third Reich. It furthermore analyses the exchange of letters between Anders and Claude Eatherly, the pilot of an aircraft that supported dropping the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima. Finally, the paper engages with Anders’ critique of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy. In the age of the Internet and big data capitalism, Anders’ warnings about the potential negative effects of capitalist technologies and capitalism remain of crucial relevance and have taken on new qualities. Anders’ philosophy is an undiscovered critical theory of technology that allows us to critically understand power structures in the age of big data and social media.
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Critical Expressivism: Theory and Practice in the Composition Classroom

Critical Expressivism: Theory and Practice in the Composition Classroom

Section Two, “Personal Writing and Social Change,” explores some of the multiple ways in which expressivist theory and practice are connected to larger political and social goals. For Patricia Webb Boyd, in a period when “many may feel unable to control their own lives, much less effect change in larger society,” the question at hand becomes: “How can we imagine creative alterna- tives where students and teachers can … see themselves as active participants in public spheres/discourses who can co-create change rather than be passive con- sumers?” Boyd sees the role of critical expressivism as one that encourages our students to feel connected to their own experiences, and thus to larger goals and communities. Daniel Collins, in his lyric collage, maintains that “expressivist writing theory … upholds the idea that to write is to discover oneself amidst an array of others.” It is through our students’ writing about their lived experience that they can forge connections to a larger culture, and begin to enact change. Scott Wagar and Eric Leake both focus on the relationship between expressivist practice and empathy. For Wagar, the goals of non-violence and recognition of interdependence can be facilitated through a pedagogy based on the insights of theorists such as Mary Rose O’Reilly, who asks “Is it possible to teach English so that people stop killing each other?” A fraught question, but one that is essential to the goals of critical expressivist pedagogy—a pedagogy in which we might “consciously re-frame our work in non-violent terms.” This is not to suggest that we “critical expressivists” have all the answers: as Eric Leake reminds us in his nuanced examination of the role of empathy in successful expressivist teach- ing, “a critical empathy continually reminds us that empathy is always at best a careful and purposeful approximation of another’s experience.” However, by working together with our students, we may find the kind of ground in which our empathy can be at once nourished and examined.
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thinking as two - philosophy, critical thinking, and community of inquiry

thinking as two - philosophy, critical thinking, and community of inquiry

Yet one might argue that philosophy still has a unique didactic role when it comes to teaching the aptitude aspect of critical thinking. In other words, perhaps we can still claim that philosophy is uniquely positioned to teach children to reason well, even if we accept community of inquiry as the activity most suited to encourage the disposition to use and value reason. Someone espousing this position might argue that philosophy is the only discipline that requires the full complement of reasoning skills – deduction, induction, abduction, analogy, etc. Or they might argue, like Winstanley, Siegel, and Lipman, that only philosophy teaches metacognition, thinking about thinking. Such arguments demand attention, and the second, in particular, has some merit. However, I am not convinced by either that philosophy has the potential to develop reasoning aptitude to a substantially greater degree than any of the disciplines. With regard to the first argument – that only philosophy requires the utilization of the full complement of reasoning skills - I think it is misguided to associate a rigid, uncompromising subset of reasoning skills to a particular discipline. Were we to look broadly enough and long enough at the practice of a discipline, I believe we would find in use a wide variety of reasoning skills not typically associated with the discipline. Mathematics provides an apt, if ordinary, example. As a subject dedicated to deductive reasoning, we might not expect to find a need for inductive or analogical reasoning. Yet, we can readily imagine a mathematician, or even a student of mathematics, solving a problem by recognizing a characteristic of the problem that existed in a series of previous problems each solved using the same mathematical technique. In this case, the individual uses both analogical and inductive techniques to successfully choose a particular deductive method based on previous experience. Even if we grant that different disciplines emphasize particular reasoning skills to the exclusion of others, the
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THEORY OF CRITICAL ELECTIONS

THEORY OF CRITICAL ELECTIONS

A concept of critical elections has been developed to cover a type of election in which there occurs a sharp and durable electoral realignment be­ tween parties, although the techniq ues[r]

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The Philosophy of Quantum Field Theory

The Philosophy of Quantum Field Theory

It seems too good to be true, and indeed, Wallace and Timpson (2007) argue that Deutsch and Hayden’s formalism misrepresents their interpretation. Wallace and Timpson identify a class of space-and-time-dependent phase transformations on the observables which leave their expectation values unchanged. These transformations, they argue, should be treated as gauge symmetries, since they vary locally in their effect on the observables and don’t alter anything of physical interest. So the real physical content of the theory is given by equivalence classes of the Heisenberg observables under these transformations. And these equivalence classes are isomorphic to the local states described in Wallace and Timpson (2010)—making Heisenberg operator realism a mere notational variant of spacetime state realism. Arntzenius (2012, 116-120) criticizes this argument on the grounds that Wallace and Timpson’s transformations do not deserve to be called symmetries, because they fail to leave the theory’s dynamical laws unchanged. After all, not every transformation that preserves a theory’s empirical content is a symmetry. Symmetries must also preserve the laws.
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Critical Thinking and Philosophy

Critical Thinking and Philosophy

In order to look at the problem in more concrete terms the question is recast as follows: how can a student claim to have taken a course in philosophy or to[r]

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How Mind, Logic and Language, Have Evolved From Medieval Philosophy to Early Modern Philosophy? A Critical Study

How Mind, Logic and Language, Have Evolved From Medieval Philosophy to Early Modern Philosophy? A Critical Study

~ 225 ~ form of a system of knowledge is fixed in advance as a disposition of the mind, and the function of experience is to cause this general schematic structure to be realized and more fully differentiated. Both the empiricists and rationalists view holds that language acquisition can be made either through innate mechanism or through perception. In fact, would not be inaccurate to describe the taxonomic, data processing approach of modern linguistics as an empiricist view that contrasts with the essentially rationalist alternative proposed in recent theories of transformational grammar. Taxonomic linguistics is empiricist in its assumption that general linguistic theory consists only of a body of procedures for determining the grammar of a language from a corpus of data, the form of language being unspecified except in so far as restrictions on possible grammars are determined by this set of procedures. If we interpret taxonomic linguistics as making an empirical claim this claim must be that the grammars that result from application of the postulated procedures to a sufficiently rich selection of data will be descriptively adequate in other words, that the set of procedures can be regarded as constituting a hypothesis about the innate language acquisition system in contrast, the discussion of language acquisition in proceeding sections was rationalistic in its assumption that various formal and substantive universals are intrinsic properties of the language-acquisition system, these providing a schema that is applied to data and that determines in a highly restricted way the general form and, in part, even the substantive features of the grammar that may emerge up on presentation of appropriate data. 17
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Language, Mind, and Cognitive Science: Remarks on Theories of the Language-Cognition Relationships in Human Minds

Language, Mind, and Cognitive Science: Remarks on Theories of the Language-Cognition Relationships in Human Minds

vegetable and a fruit, “whale” both a mammal and a fish, and “zombies” are both dead and alive—presented as conflicts between similarity-based bodies of information (prototypes and exemplars) and theories, or possibly even between two theories. This ambiguity in what “theory” means in this context helps Machery make his argument. One can’t have this both way. Yes, “theory” can refer, within the theory theory paradigm, both to automatically constructed Bayesian nets built by processes that compute co-occurrence and causal relationships in the world (Gopnik et al., 2004), and to a body of information similar to scientific theories with explicitly held beliefs about the structure of the world and what makes some objects members of a category—a skunk is not a skunk only in virtue of being a black animal with a white stripe, it has to have certain characteristics, a skunkeness, that is related to the kind of animal it is; what is inside counts, not only the appearance (Keil, 1989a). We do not claim each of these kinds of “theory” do not have effects on one another. The way we see Type 2 concepts makes it possible, if not mandatory, that there would be influences of one on the other, and vice-versa.
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'Other' literatures and issues in criticism, theory and philosophy : (re)introducing a critical discourse on 'child literature'

'Other' literatures and issues in criticism, theory and philosophy : (re)introducing a critical discourse on 'child literature'

Petzold observes that Matilda is "a fairy tale in disguise": Miss Trunchbull is the "ogre", Miss Honey is "the kind helper and the princess in need of being rescued, rolled into one" and Matilda is the "typical fairy-tale hero", both gifted and isolated, "Wish-fulfilment and Subversion: Roald Dahl’s Dickensian Fantasy Matilda p. 186. See also Stephanie Owen Reeder, Matilda has "all the elements o f the true fairytale", "Review of Matilda ", Magpies, 3 [July 1988], p. 4.) Petzold is critical of the "glaring didacticism" in Dahl's books: his child characters are "far too obedient" and "polite and sensible" (p. 190). "If anything", he continues, "[Dahl] might be accused of being too blatent an advocate of old-fashioned morality" (p. 191). Having voiced these objections, however, Petzold (in a pattern that has become familar) suggests that the relationship between Dahl's fiction and fairy tale, and the popularity of his books with child readers, somehow cancels out his earlier concerns: "[w]e should not forget... that Dahl's books, in spite of their didacticism, set out first and foremost to give their readers pleasure. Although founded on reality, the story of Matilda takes off into pure fantasy [fairy tale], leaving didactic and satirical elements behind !" (p. 191, emphasis added).
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An Examination of Latina Mothers' Experience with Parental Engagement in Schools

An Examination of Latina Mothers' Experience with Parental Engagement in Schools

Over the last decade, critical scholars have begun to problematize conceptions of Latino parental involvement by uncovering the hidden power relations often entrenched within the institutional systems of family and school partnerships, which often in fact serve to demote low- income immigrant Latino families to second-class status (Bowen, 2006). I believe the following theories offer insight into these issues, and I used them as analytic lenses on the data I collected: Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, and Freirean Social Theory. Critical Race Theory examines how laws reinforce racial inequality and preserve hierarchies when they were meant to promote and create a fair society. LatCrit focuses mainly on advocating for social justice for marginalized communities, specifically Chicana/Chicano people but also includes Latinos/as, Asians, LGBTQ, Native Americans/First Nations, and women of color. Freirean Social Theory examines the transformation from oppressive to more equitable structures from practices of domination to practices of freedom.
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The theory and application of critical realist philosophy and morphogenetic methodology: Emergent structural and agential relations at a hospice

The theory and application of critical realist philosophy and morphogenetic methodology: Emergent structural and agential relations at a hospice

the thesis social on of related and begins by describing and critiquing the realist philosophy and theory of Roy Bhaskar 1998d, 1997 and morphogenetic methodology of Margaret Archer 1996[r]

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Adult basic education as practical philosophy: an hermeneutic account

Adult basic education as practical philosophy: an hermeneutic account

THE LANGUAGE GAMES OF PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY Thus, practical philosophy enters the classroom, not as a theory or doctrine, but as ethos or demeanors, as genres of address, as the movement [r]

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Philosophy of Development Economics: Creating a Dialogue between Rawls and Development Economists

Philosophy of Development Economics: Creating a Dialogue between Rawls and Development Economists

Our investigation requires that we take a step back and look at the phenomenon in a more primordial way, i.e. something apriori that conditions thinking about the future of development economics. It is our intuition that a ‘special’ development theory is in fact needed, one that is sensitive to general and particular questions that arise in political-economy in relation to development, and this special theory is neither an ‘applied’ form of economics nor a ‘supplement’ to mainstream economic theories. The ‘special development theory’ is far more expansive: it draws from the philosophy of history and the history of philosophy to critically question the epistemological, normative and scientific assumptions of ‘development economics.’ Our project in contrast to Meier’s, for example, is an attempt to fashion a new field called the ‘philosophy of development economics’ by way of the resources available in moral and political philosophies of justice and global ethics, namely Rawls’s endeavor in The Law of Peoples. And prior to such construction, one must keep in mind advanced problems in the philosophy of history, namely time, transformation, motion and causality. If development does not inherit basic problems in metaphysics (being, becoming, time, motion, rest, the thing in motion, the thing as motion, substance, permanence), then we are forgetting an important historical precedent that made the idea of ‘development’ even possible, particularly in its 20 th century expression. Rawls takes up questions for moral and political philosophy intrinsic to discussions of international justice, but he does so in a way that does not prioritize a single philosophical or metaphysical or religious comprehensive doctrine; the point is to see how these doctrines can be maintained from the standpoint of individual proponents but be subjected to reasonable and rational debate on which non-metaphysical or purely ‘political conceptions of justice’ become possible to which a single international order can adhere, i.e. a ‘society of peoples.’ This way the idea of justice as fairness for the basic structure of a single society can be expanded to justify principles of fairness and decency for the entire human species and the international order within which all human beings live.
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Back to the Future: The Short, Happy Life of the Law and Society Movement

Back to the Future: The Short, Happy Life of the Law and Society Movement

Moves toward an alliance between law and society and critical academic movements (e.g., feminist legal theory, critical legal studies, critical race theory) are alre[r]

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Freirean Based Critical Pedagogy: The  Challenges of Limit Situations and Critical Transitivity

Freirean Based Critical Pedagogy: The Challenges of Limit Situations and Critical Transitivity

Freire’s ideas that developed into his critical pedagogy were influenced by the social, political, and economic realities of his native Brazil. Freire’s contention is that no educational issue or practice is free from the influ- ences or the realities of its context. Freire’s context was a situation where the ineptitude and corruption at the larger society level had made incursion into the educational system. He reasoned that just as politicians imposed dictatorial rule and a culture of silence on the populace, educators too were imposing intellectual silence on stu- dents. He described the educational system using words such as “domesticating” and “banking.” He contrasts banking education with what he calls “liberating or problem-posing education” (Freire, 2002: pp. 72-86). Prob- lem-posing education is thus the original framework of his critical pedagogy. He describes it as one in which “people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves…” (p. 83). Problem-posing education puts those engaged in it in the process of becoming, striving towards conscientization (p. 84). The pursuit of conscientization requires educators and learners to learn to read reality with critical lenses.
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Analyzing the Degree of Consensus in Current Academic Literature on Critical Pedagogy

Analyzing the Degree of Consensus in Current Academic Literature on Critical Pedagogy

Several authors refer to the cardinal importance of placing students’ life experiences at the heart of any educational encounter (Markovich & Rapoport 2013; Mutemeri 2013; O’Brien 2013; Perron et al. 2010). Besides valuing the students’ own worldviews as contributing to a meaningful re-construction of knowledge (Molina 2012), the fundamental role given to students’ culture responds to the belief that by analyzing our own embeddedness in the larger economic, political, and ideological background we will become more critically aware (Abednia & Izadinia 2013). However, a number of authors recognize the strong emotional consequences that critical self-reflection can entail in practice, particularly when examining our different levels of unearned privilege (Czyzewski 2011; King-White 2012) and the ways in which we reproduce systemic oppression in our daily lives (Chapman 2011; Chubbuck & Zembylas 2011; Nelsen & Seaman 2011). Such self-analysis can result in students avoiding consideration of their implication in social inequities (Chapman 2011), resisting perspectives that could jeopardize their privileged position (Levy & Galily 2011), or rejecting Critical Pedagogy altogether (Nelsen & Seaman 2011). Hence, it seems that even though there is consensus about the desirability of basing learning on students’ lived experiences, the evidence here suggests that the practice of critical self-reflection can be challenging and not always readily conducive of critical pedagogical aims. One possible solution to this problem proposed in the literature is to foster the development of a questioning dexterity as a preliminary and less threatening step to critical analysis of personal privilege and inequality (Nelsen & Seaman 2011). Analogously, Motta (2013: 81) believes in fostering amongst students of privilege a capacity for being “otherwise”, decentering their dominant ways of seeing and acting. In this way, the selected literature is reminiscent of other developments in the area of what could be termed ‘pedagogy of privilege’ (Case 2013), which suggest valuable strategies for addressing the emotional taxation that critical self-examination of systemic privilege can provoke.
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Deliberative Democracy as a Critical Theory.

Deliberative Democracy as a Critical Theory.

reasons of participants in deliberation’ (Bohman 2000, 17). Hendriks et al. stress that ‘[d]eliberative democratisation must itself be a deliberative process, as opposed to the application of some standard set of institutional design’ (Hendriks et al. 2007, 379); which, for Dryzek, follows from the recognition that ‘[d]emocracy is not a static concept, whose essence could ever be decided once and for all [but rather] a dynamic and open-ended concept’ (Dryzek 2000, 28). However, this has so far referred either to co-development and mutual learning as part of deliberative experimentation in the real world (as in Hendriks et al.’s case) or to self-reflectiveness or practice-oriented focus (in Dryzek’s and Bohman’s cases) among deliberative theorists themselves. Yet inasmuch as there is a risk critical theory could itself succumb to narrowing, distorting ideological influences, and this can be prevented by external critical challenge, political theory as such must find a source of such ‘outsider perspectives’ on its own practice (Hoy and McCarthy 1994, 19). Thus, in addition to finding new ways of creating impacts from its normative theorising in the real world, critical deliberative theory ought to incorporate new forms of impacts from the real world in its own practice, as the unique kind of ‘verifications’ that critical theories rely on (Bohman 1999, 477).
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How Should We Live? A Study of Social Critical Theory, Feminist Utopianism, Anarchism and Eco-political Thought

How Should We Live? A Study of Social Critical Theory, Feminist Utopianism, Anarchism and Eco-political Thought

In neoliberal postmodern capitalism or integral reality in which everything is positivised, present or known, all that remains to be done is to choose according to one’s desires. This too, according to neoliberal logic, should be known. To this Fisher retorts that “people do not know what they want” in part because “the most powerful forms of desire are precisely cravings for the strange, the unexpected, the weird” which can only be offered by artists, or media, willing to take certain risks in giving people something other than a known source of satisfaction (Fisher 75-76). That people cannot know what they want troubles notions of agency, desire, utopianism and market logic, but it also troubles critical theory and leaves open a back door for more explicitly authoritarian forms of power or instruction. And yet, if detached from elitist and hierarchical frameworks, might the idea also be quite subversive? Perhaps no one ‘knows’ what they want, and desire is not something to be ‘known’ but rather an action which plays out by allowing in “the weird”, “the strange”, “the unexpected”. In other words, desire is an action involving entering into diverse sets of relations with other people, ideas, things and that this is a process, not a static state, seems to resonate with some of the critical utopian ideas discussed in this chapter. Arguably, it is this not knowing and the necessary accompanying indecision and experimentation that drives utopian alterity.
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