Adorno and Horkheimer: Diasporic Philosophy, Negative Theology, and Counter-Education
Theology; Philosophy; Judaism; Jews; Critical Theory
Educational Theory, v55 n3 p343-365 Aug 2005
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From a contemporary perspective, the work of the Frankfurt School thinkers can be considered the last grand modern attempt to offer transcendence, meaning, and religiosity rather than "emancipation" and "truth." In the very first stage of their work, Adorno and Horkheimer interlaced the goals of Critical Theory with the Marxian revolutionary project. The development of their thought led them to criticize orthodox Marxism and ended in a complete break with that tradition, as they developed a quest for a unique kind religiosity connected with the Gnostic tradition and emanating, to a certain extent, from Judaism. This religiosity offers a reformulated Negative Theology within the framework of what I call "Diasporic philosophy." In his later work, Horkheimer explicitly presented Critical Theory as a new Jewish theology. Rearticulating Critical Theory is of vital importance today, both for understanding the current historical moment and for going beyond the oppressive dimensions of Critical Pedagogy. This article does not satisfy itself by offering a new reconstruction of Critical Theory; its goal is to offer a blueprint for a Diasporic counter-education that transcends Critical Pedagogy and goes beyond the emancipatory dimensions of Judaism itself.