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As such, critical theory was left, in Jürgen Habermas' words, without "anything in reserve to which it might appeal; and when the forces of production enter into a baneful symbiosis with the relations of production that they were supposed to blow wide open, there is no longer any dynamism upon which critique could base its hope".For Adorno and Horkheimer, this posed the problem of how to account for the apparent persistence of domination in the absence of the very contradiction that, according to traditional critical theory, was the source of domination itself.As a term, critical theory has two meanings with different origins and histories: the first originated in sociology and the second originated in literary criticism, whereby it is used and applied as an umbrella term that can describe a theory founded upon critique; thus, the theorist Max Horkheimer described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them." In sociology and political philosophy, the term "Critical Theory" describes the Western Marxist philosophy of the Frankfurt School, which was developed in Germany in the 1930s.
This ambivalence was rooted, of course, in the historical circumstances in which the work was originally produced, in particular, the rise of National Socialism, state capitalism, and culture industry as entirely new forms of social domination that could not be adequately explained within the terms of traditional Marxist sociology.
For Adorno and Horkheimer, state intervention in economy had effectively abolished the tension between the "relations of production" and "material productive forces of society", a tension which, according to traditional critical theory, constituted the primary contradiction within capitalism.
While modernist critical theory (as described above) concerns itself with "forms of authority and injustice that accompanied the evolution of industrial and corporate capitalism as a political-economic system," postmodern critical theory politicizes social problems "by situating them in historical and cultural contexts, to implicate themselves in the process of collecting and analyzing data, and to relativize their findings." Meaning itself is seen as unstable due to the rapid transformation in social structures.
As a result, the focus of research is centered on local manifestations, rather than broad generalizations.
His ideas regarding the relationship between modernity and rationalization are in this sense strongly influenced by Max Weber.
Habermas dissolved further the elements of critical theory derived from Hegelian German Idealism, although his thought remains broadly Marxist in its epistemological approach.In the 1960s, Jürgen Habermas, a proponent of critical social theory, raised the epistemological discussion to a new level in his Knowledge and Human Interests, by identifying critical knowledge as based on principles that differentiated it either from the natural sciences or the humanities, through its orientation to self-reflection and emancipation.Although unsatisfied with Adorno and Horkeimer's thought presented in Dialectic of Enlightenment, Habermas shares the view that, in the form of instrumental rationality, the era of modernity marks a move away from the liberation of enlightenment and toward a new form of enslavement.Postmodern critical theory politicizes social problems "by situating them in historical and cultural contexts, to implicate themselves in the process of collecting and analyzing data, and to relativize their findings." Critical theory (German: Kritische Theorie) was first defined by Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School of sociology in his 1937 essay Traditional and Critical Theory: Critical Theory is a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to understanding or explaining it.Horkheimer wanted to distinguish critical theory as a radical, emancipatory form of Marxian theory, critiquing both the model of science put forward by logical positivism and what he and his colleagues saw as the covert positivism and authoritarianism of orthodox Marxism and Communism.Frankfurt School critical theorists drew on the critical methods of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.Critical theory maintains that ideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation.Perhaps his two most influential ideas are the concepts of the public sphere and communicative action; the latter arriving partly as a reaction to new post-structural or so-called "postmodern" challenges to the discourse of modernity.Habermas engaged in regular correspondence with Richard Rorty and a strong sense of philosophical pragmatism may be felt in his theory; thought which frequently traverses the boundaries between sociology and philosophy.Kant's notion of critique has been associated with the overturning of false, unprovable, or dogmatic philosophical, social, and political beliefs, because Kant's critique of reason involved the critique of dogmatic theological and metaphysical ideas and was intertwined with the enhancement of ethical autonomy and the Enlightenment critique of superstition and irrational authority.Ignored by many in "critical realist" circles, however, is that Kant's immediate impetus for writing his "Critique of Pure Reason" was to address problems raised by David Hume's skeptical empiricism which, in attacking metaphysics, employed reason and logic to argue against the knowability of the world and common notions of causation.