Critical Theory

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Erica Faye M. Pader I-BSLTM Dr. Aleli Sevilla

Critical Theory

I. Max Horkheimer

Max Horkheimer, the only son of Moritz and Babette Horkheimer, was born on Feb. 14, 1895 in Stuttgart, Germany. Max was taken out of school to work in the family’s business in 1910 because it is what he’s father expected of him. In 1919, he began his studies at Munich University then transferred at University of Frankfurt where he studied philosophy and psychology. There he received his Ph. D degree in 1922. Max married Maidon in 1926 and were together until her death in 1969. In July of 1930, he was appointed Professor of Social Philosophy at Frankfurt. During those times, he developed an original interdisciplinary movement, known as critical theory, that combined Marxist-oriented political philosophy with social and cultural analysis informed by empirical research. Max received American citizenship in 1940 and lived in Los Angeles. There he collaborated with Theodor Adorno that produced Dialectic of Enlightenment in 1947. In April 1948, he went back to Germany to lecture in various cities but in July 1949 his professorship at Frankfurt was restored. He was awarded the Goethe Plaque of the City of Frankfurt and was later named honorary citizen of Frankfurt for life. He continued to teach at the university until his retirement in 1958. He remained an important figure until he passed away in Nuremberg on July 7, 1973 at the age of 78.

II. Critical Theory

Critical theory as defined by Max Horkheimer, is a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole. He wanted to distinguish critical theory as a radical, emancipator form of Marxian theory, critiquing both the model of science put...