Critical Theory emerged in the 1920s from the work of the Frankfurt School, the circle of German-Jewish academics who sought to diagnose - and, if at all possible, cure - the ills of society, particularly fascism and capitalism. In this book, Stephen Eric Bronner provides sketches of leading representatives of the critical tradition (such as George Lukács and Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas) as well as many of its seminal texts and empirical investigations.
This Very Short Introduction sheds light on the cluster of concepts and themes that set critical theory apart from its more traditional philosophical competitors. Bronner explains and discusses concepts such as method and agency, alienation and reification, the culture industry and repressive tolerance, non-identity and utopia. He argues for the introduction of new categories and perspectives for illuminating the obstacles to progressive change and focusing upon hidden transformative possibilities. Only a critique of critical theory can render it salient for a new age. That is precisely what this very short introduction provides.
©2011 Stephen Eric Bronner (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I've read a ton of Benjamin and Adorno, and a bit of most of the other writers collectively associated with "The Frankfurt School." I'd say this book is a noble effort and would recommend it, on its own terms, as a general introduction.
Which brings me to my main point. People will want, no, will NEED to read Benjamin, Adorno, Marcuse, Bloch, &co, but none of their stuff is available in English in audiobook format! I mean what in the actual f&*(# is up with THAT???!!! Audible, please get on the phone with Verso, Shocken, etc and fix this problem ASAP! -kthx ; )
This book provides a broad overview of Critical Theory and is a good source to follow up reading the works of members of the Frankfurt school. It is narrated well. I enjoyed listening to it (twice). You may find yourself doing the same.
There is a lot of subject matter, names, history and philosophical, sociological, and political detail to go through, but well worth the mental effort to crunch. It was very helpful having clear and authoritative narration by Alfred Gingold. This is all about philosophy of freedom and therefor applies to everyone. Therefore I urge everyone to familiarise themselves with Critical Theory, it's major thinkers and ideas, and to develop their thinking ontologically within the home and community. Bless you all, be well.
"Informative, clear, a little random"
Yes, the book presents a good overview of some central ideas, and it refreshes some basic concepts well.
Problematic concerning the content are Bronner's lack of understanding the nature of dialectic thinking. This means some of his presentations are odd misappropriations. That is especially so with his refusal to make sense of the Dialectic of Enlightenment, and that in turn affects his definition of the aims of Critical Theory. In addition, the way in which ideas are attributed to individual authors is sometimes random and not always fair. The historical context is narrated in an suggestive manner without any actual critique being offered.
The reading is a little too fast for such a dense text and sometimes over-stresses points.
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