Perhaps a better phrasing of the Question…

Where or when does philosophy and critical theory part?

Where does philosophy end and critical theory begin?

And/or

where does critical theory end and philosophy begin ?

Because I can see a achair in-itself and likewise a table, and I see for sure where the chair ends and the table begins and vice versa.

There are these things called philosophy and critical theory, each which have thier definitions and adherents. Are we able to know if indeed they are separate and distinct efforts or things?

I mean, it is easy for me to look at maybe Plato or something and say yes that is definitely philosophy.

But then if I look at Wittgenstein I am tempted to say that he’s crossing over somehow.

The Frankfurt school appears to me as philosophy but then they call them selves critical theorists.

Marx was definitely making a statement about society and yet he’s a philosopher somehow.

Bertrand Russell appears to me like a philosopher in yet I feel that I can take some of what I’ve read of him as being more towards critical theory.

Kierkegaard I feel is making a significant contribution to how we view history society and culture and yet he is considered a philosopher.

Hegel I think would fall firmly into the philosopher area but he does make some claims towards what we could call critical theory.

Where do we draw the line?

How do we distinguish one from the other?

How do we know when we are doing something philosophically from when we are doing something that is more critical?

I think the big postmodern names such as Derrida, Lyotard, Deleuze, Guattari, Are philosophers, even though most people who like to refer to them would see them as critical theorists. Same with Michel Foucault. But I think most people who would consider themselves post modern would associate themselves more with making political statements and that’s with critical theory, and that, even as they would consider what they are doing as philosophy.

What is the criteria that distinguishes whether philosophy is occurring or whether critical theory is occurring?

Please help me figure this out.

2 Comments

  1. A common definition of CT, “a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to understanding or explaining it,” seems to distinguish it, but Venn diagrams of the two show a big overlap.

    But expect you know more about this than I do!

    1. Maybe not! I am not sure how much I know more 😆. That’s why I am asking others to tell me what they think. So thank
      You

      I guess I would ask how one goes about understanding or explaining society without saying something about it or affecting it?

      It seems there is an assumed invested intention in the definition itself, as though the definition is an attempt to overcome something that it is inherently a part of.

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