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Readings for this module.
- Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944)
- Michel Foucault, selections from Madness and Civilization (1964)
- Michel Foucault,“What is Enlightenment?,”
Critical Theory and The Frankfurt School
The narrow sense of “Critical Theory” was coined by a group of German philosophers and social theorists known as “the Frankfurt School”. This began with Horkheimer and Adorno and stretched to Marcuse and Habermas. They distinguished “critical” from “traditional” theory saying that a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human emancipation, “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them” (Horkheimer 1982, 244). In a broader sense critical theories aim to explain all the circumstances that enslave humans. This group of thinkers is still active today.