9 3 1 5 Critical realism SCIENCE, that is, knowledge of consequences; which is called also PHILOSOPHY. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan1 Without contraries is no progression. William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell2 Introduction Critical realism: the painted veil of dialectics3 Critical realism attempted to ground dialectics in realism. Roy Bhaskar dealt extensively with the issue, and challenged Kant’s critique of science, empiricism and positivism throughout his work. He insisted on presenting the epistemological validity of structures or mechanisms which
Epistemology should be the axe that breaks the ice of a traditionalism that covers and obstructs scientific enlightenment. This book explores the arguments between critical theory and epistemology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Focusing on the first and second generations of critical theorists and Luhmann's systems theory, it examines how each approaches epistemology. The book offers a critique of the Kantian base of critical theory's epistemology in conjunction with the latter's endeavour to define political potential through the social function of science. The concept of dialectics is explored as the negation of the irrational and, furthermore, as the open field of epistemological conflict between rationality and irrationality. The book traces the course of arguments that begin with Dilthey's philosophy of a rigorous science, develop with Husserl's phenomenology, Simmel's and Weber's interest in the scientific element within the social concerns of scientific advance. In structuralism, the fear of dialogue prevails. The book discusses the epistemological thought of Pierre Bourdieu and Gilles Deleuze in terms of their persistence in constructing an epistemological understanding of social practice free from the burdens of dialectics, reason and rationality. It also enquires into issues of normativity and modernity within a comparative perspective on modernism, postmodernism and critical theory. Whether in relation to communication deriving from the threefold schema of utterance- information- understanding or in relation to self- reflexivity, systems theory fails to define the bearer or the actor of the previous structural processes. Critical realism attempted to ground dialectics in realism.
realism’ (SR). In this chapter, I want to show how the contemporary (re)turn to objects initially serves as a useful corrective to social or political theories that fail to properly engage with the object world (this includes forms of traditional Marxism that often presume ‘reification’ to be a perennial evil, rather than a particular social relation). I take this as an opportunity for a timely reconstruction of early 82 Critical theory and feeling critical theory’s own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis. This is most evident in Siegfried
response to such ‘inevitabilities’, so the dominant discourses tell us, is to ‘keep calm and carry on’. As ever, unbridled feeling, emotion, and affect are seen as obstacles to a more balanced, rational, and reasonable response to suffering and hardship. Today, both neo-stoicism and neoliberalism converge on the same point of hard-nosed idiomatic realism: shit happens.19 The point of a critical theory is to interrogate how and why certain types of shit tend to happen more frequently and systematically to certain groups of people. Once it becomes clear that shit does
This book offers a unique and timely reading of the early Frankfurt School in response to the recent 'affective turn' within the arts and humanities. It revisits some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The book focuses on the work of Walter Benjamin, whose varied engagements with the subject of melancholia prove to be far more mobile and complex than traditional accounts. It also looks at how an affective politics underpins critical theory's engagement with the world of objects, exploring the affective politics of hope. Situating the affective turn and the new materialisms within a wider context of the 'post-critical', it explains how critical theory, in its originary form, is primarily associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. The book presents an analysis of Theodor Adorno's form of social critique and 'conscious unhappiness', that is, a wilful rejection of any privatized or individualized notion of happiness in favour of a militant and political discontent. A note on the timely reconstruction of early critical theory's own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis follows. The post-Cold War triumphalism of many on the right, accompanied by claims of the 'end of history', created a sense of fearlessness, righteousness, and unfettered optimism. The book notes how political realism has become the dominant paradigm, banishing utopian impulses and diminishing political hopes to the most myopic of visions.
What do the victims of tyranny owe each other? In this chapter, I examine whether they can be condemned for betraying their friends, and I do so through a novel interpretation of Judith Shklar’s political thought. Shklar is a widely acknowledged and significant influence on non-ideal theory, including political realism. However, there is also a previously unnoticed transformation between her early and mature work, for, although she remains a sceptic, her approach to moral conflict changes from value pluralism to value monism. In addition, it is only in her mature work, as a monist, that she believes tyranny cancels obligations of justice. I argue here that Shklar’s monism fails, and this in turn has important implications for non-ideal theory. While non-ideal theorists have focused on developing a sceptical critique of ideal theory, this interpretation of Shklar’s work illustrates that greater awareness is needed of the pitfalls of monist strands of scepticism
7 6 1 Conclusions T his book has aimed to examine dialectics in modern epistemology and to compare it with critical theory, not ‘in order to’ but ‘because’ the latter can offer innovative means of dialectical theorizing. In this way, critical theory has the potential to advance twenty-first-century epistemology. The prevailing idea in critical realism, as elaborated in the final chapter, was that dialectics can provide the best path to innovation in the science. The book attempted to avoid old and traditional modes such as ‘biographies’ of scientific terms
metaphysical and theological conceptions that it seeks to overcome. ( 2006 : 316–17) Normative objectivity and anti-realism Nietzsche can also be labelled a constructivist in the sense that Kai Nielsen uses the term, that there is no structure to be ‘unearthed … but something to be forged – constructed – by a timely and resolute use of the method of reflective equilibrium’ ( 1996 : 17). Nielsen describes ‘reflective equilibrium’ as a ‘coherentist methodology’ of explanation and justification used in ethics, philosophy, and epistemology, articulated in recent Western
Realism and critical theory are inseparable. (Booth, 2011b : 340) In the last chapter, we looked at the emergence of Critical Theory and developed a definition of what compromises critical thinking based on Horkheimer's ‘Traditional and Critical Theory’. Critical Theory, as outlined by Horkheimer and then Cox, is viewed as the ‘other’ of traditional theory. If International Relations has a paradigmatic
hope and the ‘exhaustion of utopian energies’, as Jürgen Habermas puts it, is welcomed as a sign of maturity, a proverbial ‘coming of age’, whereby one accepts (either happily or begrudgingly) the extant parameters of praxis, the supposedly inherent limitations of human being, and finally becomes ‘realistic’.12 Indeed, one could hardly overestimate the extent to which our contemporary socio-political horizon is defined by a hard-nosed realism and wilful disregard for the concept of utopia. The renewed vigour with which sociological and political realisms have been