Artwork: Patrick Bremer, The Naysayers , 2014. Illustration in The New Yorker . M ISERICORDIA U NIVERSITY D EPARTMENT OF P HILOSOPHY C RITICAL S OCIAL T HEORY PHL 285 S PRING 2017 I NSTRUCTOR : Dr. George W. Shea, IV S ECTION #: 01 O FFICE : Mercy Hall 370 L OCATION : 103 MacDowell O FFICE H OURS : 3:30-5:30pm R and by appt. T IME : T 6-8:30pm E MAIL : [email protected] P REREQUISITES : PHL 100 P HONE : 570-674-8169 C OURSE C REDITS : 3 C OMP . S CHEDULE : N ONE C OURSE D ESCRIPTION : In the broadest sense, critical social theory is comprised of interdisciplinary methods of analysis that take “society” itself as their object of inquiry. However, as Max Horkheimer famously stated, it is also a “theory dominated at every turn by a concern for reasonable conditions of life.” Thus, the aim of critical social theory is not to arrive at a mere “theoretical” understanding of society, but rather it is to identify the social ills born of the dominant socio- political structures of our time, to locate the mechanisms of domination, subjugation, and oppression to which they give rise, and to ameliorate those effects through a transformation of ourselves and society. In this way, critical social theory forms an ineliminable bond between “theory” and “practice.” While the term Critical Theory refers specifically to the work of the early 20 th century German theoreticians of the Frankfurt School, the term critical social theory applies more generally to a number of methodological approaches that aim to emancipate individuals from dominating and oppressive social practices – these include Marxism, feminism, critical race theory, queer theory, and post-colonialism. In this course, we will examine critical social theory’s roots in Marx , Weber, Lukács, and Freud, and trace its development into the major works of the Frankfurt School. We will read these authors specifically in reference to their engagement with issues concerning contemporary forms of domination and emancipation, the relationship between economics and modern forms of socio-political organization, between reason and desire, between culture and individuality, between art and freedom, and between truth and power. We will also address the question of possible forms for contemporary critique.