Heidegger and the Frankfurt School

Authored by: Cristina Lafont

The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138333246
eBook ISBN: 9780429443374
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter analyzes the systematic contribution of Heidegger’s philosophy to the Frankfurt School tradition of critical theory. It focuses on two key developments: Herbert Marcuse’s early attempt to articulate a "Heideggerian Marxism" and Jürgen Habermas’s creative incorporation of hermeneutics into his distinctive approach to critical theory. The latter influence has had more of a lasting impact upon critical theory than the former, as Marcuse’s early project was soon abandoned. Nevertheless, Marcuse’s critique of the shortcomings of Heidegger’s philosophy, which motivated his attempt to integrate it with Marxism, remains important because it illuminates the complex relation between hermeneutics and critical theory. Habermas’s distinctive approach to critical theory represents a genuine alternative to Heideggerian hermeneutics but this is so precisely because it came about by thinking with Heidegger and against Heidegger.

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