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p. 1Introduction: what is critical theory?locked

  • Stephen Eric Bronner


Philosophy has evidenced a subversive element from its inception. Plato’s Apology tells how Socrates was condemned by the Athenian citizenry for corrupting the morals of the young and doubting the gods. There was some truth to that complaint. Socrates called conventional wisdom into question. He subjected long-standing beliefs to rational scrutiny and speculated about concerns that projected beyond the existing order. What became known as “critical theory” was built upon this legacy. The new philosophical tendency was generated between World War I and World War II, and its most important representatives would wage an unrelenting assault on the exploitation, repression, and alienation embedded within Western civilization....

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