115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Colonization of the Lifeworld: The Reconstruction of Critical Theory

Tim Luther, California Baptist University

Habermas finds that power and money have colonized the lifeworld. Language, in its function of coordinating action, is replaced by money and power. There is a direct connection between rationality and liberation, between autonomous responsibility and knowledge. This paper describes and assesses Habermas’s criticisms and reconstruction of the critical theory of Horkheimer and Adorno.

Proposal: 

Habermas finds that power and money have colonized the lifeworld, a form of alienation unique to late capitalism.  The economic-administrative complex sets off a process of erosion in the lifeworld.  Language, in its function of coordinating action, is replaced by money and power.  The economic growth imperative impels commodification of goods and services and the manipulation of culture for purposes of advertising, reinforcing dependency, alienation, narcissism, and conformism.

 

            Like Horkheimer and Adorno, he sees these developments in social philosophy as giving rise to a positivism that justifies these developments.  Unlike them, while recognizing problems with modern rationality, he holds on to its normal potential.  Habermas renews critical theory by securing its normative foundation through the reconstruction of modern rationality.  There is a direct connection between rationality and liberation, between autonomous responsibility and knowledge. This paper describes and assesses Habermas’s criticisms and reconstruction of the critical theory of Horkheimer and Adorno.

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