What_s_Critical_About_Critical_Theory_-.pdf - What\u2019s Critical About Critical Theory \u2013 Redux Roc\u00edo Zambrana University of Oregon Forthcoming in From

What_s_Critical_About_Critical_Theory_-.pdf - What’s...

This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 18 pages.

1What’s Critical About Critical Theory? – ReduxRocío ZambranaUniversity of OregonForthcoming inFrom Alienation to Forms of Life: The Critical Theory of RahelJaeggi, ed.Eduardo Mendieta and Amy Allen (Penn State Series in Critical Theory, 2017).“[T]he work of our time [is] to clarify to itself(critical philosophy) the meaning of its ownstruggle and its own desires. This is work forthe world and for us. It can only be the workof joint forces.”—Marx1In her 1985 essay “What’s Critical About Critical Theory? The Case of Habermas andGender,”NancyFraserofferedadecisivecritiqueofJürgenHabermas’theoryofcommunicative action.2Habermas’ distinction between system and lifeworld – itself basedon a distinction between the material and symbolic reproduction of society – ignores thegendered character of social reproduction. One could only consider the lifeworld as a site ofcommunicative interaction, for instance, if one ignores the fact that women’s exploitation ingreat part takes place within “socially-integrated action contexts” or if one ignores thefeminization of work within “system-integrated action contexts.”3Habermas’ critical theorylacks critical power, Fraser argues, because it fails to “clarify the struggles and desires of theage.” It does not offer an account of the gendered character of social reproduction because itfails to take seriously the insights of the feminist movement – insights that are notperipheral to an account of society, that ought to shape our understanding of socialreproduction, and that ought to inform how we understand critique.Fraser opens her essay with the suggestion that Marx’s 1843 definition of criticaltheory as the clarification of the struggles and desires of the age is unmatched given itsdistinctively political character.4Critical theory remains critical if it is oriented by thepotential for social transformation embedded in the concrete struggles of the present. Thispolitical commitment, however, sets a theoretical agenda for critical theory. Critical theoryremains critical when it reflects on its own assumptions in light of the struggles of the age,when it is willing to revise its own assumptions in light of the strictures of those struggles.The theoretical task, then, is to work out a conception of critique that inscribes within itself
Background image
2the idea that critique takes its bearings from social reality while at the same time aiming totransform that very reality for the better. The theoretical task is thus working out what hascome to be known as the dialectic of immanence and transcendence at a methodologicallevel. Rather than a retreat to the abstractions of philosophical reflection, the theoreticaltask prepares the ground for research programs that heed to the struggles and desires ofthe age.
Background image
Image of page 3

You've reached the end of your free preview.

Want to read all 18 pages?

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern

Stuck? We have tutors online 24/7 who can help you get unstuck.
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors