n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Kritiese Teorie en relativisme

Volume 46, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


Critical Theory is a very important tradition in social philosophy. In this contribution three generations (movements) of Critical Theory will be considered in relation with the question of relativism. In the first part the focus is on the first movement (Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse) and more specifically the implications of their (later) pessimistic view of society for rationality. In the second part the work of Jürgen Habermas (as the most prominent member of the second movement of Critical Theory) is considered. Habermas differs from the first movement by being more optimistic about a rational theory of society. From his earliest work to his theory communicative action, Habermas has in his social theory attempted to address the danger of relativism. In the last part of this contribution the third movement of Critical Theory (with Axel Honneth as its prominent figure) is considered. In the work of this movement the issue of rationality is discussed in a stronger contextual manner, which contributes to a revision of certain aspects of Habermas's societal concept of relativism.

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