Wednesday, September 22, 2004

“The type of social theory we first find developed by Marx is characterised by the fact that the theory is doubly reflexive. Historical materialism is intended to offer an explanation of social evolution which is so comprehensive that it extends to the conditions of the possibility of the rise of the theory itself as well as to the conditions of its application. The theory specifies the conditions under which the self reflection on the history of mankind has become objectively possible and it also specifies exactly who will be able with the help of the theory to gain enlightenment about themselves and about their potentially emancipatory role in the historical process. As a result of its reflection on the conditions of its own appearance and application, theory understands itself as a necessary catalytic moment within the very nexus of social life which it is analysing. Indeed, it analyses this as an integral nexus of constraints from the point of view of its potential Aufhebung. The theory thus covers a double relation between theory and praxis: on the one hand, it investigates the historical conditions for the constitution of a constellation of interest to which, as it were, the theory can itself influence through the way it orients action. On the one hand, it is concerned with social praxis which, as social synthesis, makes knowledge possible; on the other hand, it is concerned with a political praxis which is consciously directed toward overturning the existing institutional system. Through its reflection on the conditions of the possibility of its own appearance, critique is to be distinguished both from science and from philosophy. The sciences ignore the constitution of their objects and understand their subject matter in an objectivistic way. Philosophy, conversely, is too ontologically sure of its origin as a first principle. Through its anticipation of the conditions of its possible application, critique is to be distinguished from what Horkheimer called the traditional theory. It understands that its claim to validity can only be vindicated in successful processes of Enlightenment, and that means in the practical discourse of those concerned. Critical theory renounces the contemplative claims of theories which are constructed in monologic form and sees, moreover, that all previous philosophy, in spite of the claims it has made for itself, has never had a purely contemplative character.”

"Theory and practice, pp. 1-2"

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