I tend to conflate critical theory with critical thinking.
I think the philosophers or theorists or authors who came up with the term “critical theory” for what they were doing, or for some class of social comment, was simply extending philosophical motion and applying it to ideology as though ideology was something separate from the philosophical situation. To my mind they did not want to make the philosophically sound argument why philosophy should be able to address something like ideology or Social constructs. So instead they just proceeded to use philosophical ideas towards ideology, and called it a day.
They were thinking philosophically about the presentation of the social world. But they could not just call it another kind of philosophy because then they would have to justify how it is possible they could make such claims as they did, whybsuch claims should have veracity or relevance. So instead they called it “critical”, and because it really has no basis for a discussion of reality except that reality is already presented to the analysis, they called it “theory”.
For example, Theodor Adorno’s “negative dialectics” , perhaps his most noted work, arises out of the philosophical deadlocks of his time that we found, say, with existentialism (But really The encompassing deadlock of Wittgenstein). It is a negative dialectics because there is no dialectical way to step into a critique of social presentation except to continue in the philosophical traditional manner, which if a person is to introduce themselves within the context of philosophy would never get outside or beyond the “positive” dialectics of philosophical tradition.
But the short of it is that Adorno, as well as Walter Benjamin who made a similar critique of art and mechanization and industry, we’re simply using “thinking skills” and not philosophy as such towards their work. Contrary to philosophy as a methodology, they were actually merely using philosophical ideas and not making a philosophical argument. They were using their thinking skills, their skills at thinking, to critique categorical Givens around the use of society (modes of production) to, according to a philosophical idea without a necessary argument, “Destruct” The field of “being there”, or as Derrida argued of Heidegger, The critical theorists were involved in an effort to ‘destroy the spirit’, so to speak, attempting to correct what was apparently or assumed to be faulty of capitalistic production in the order towards bringing the spirit back to life, again, so to speak. (One could argue that Laurelle’s nonphilosophy — but indeed much of academic philosophy in general — is still involved with this attempt.)
I would say then that critical theory has to do with an ability to think critically. Where as philosophy is a particular set of processes and conclusions linked to history and tradition and how they coordinate with the cosmological position of the human subject in the universe. Hence, Quentin Meillassoux’s “critical philosophy” which notices “correlationalism”.
And so actually, come to think of it, THe SECOND PART (the object of the subject) of the philosophical hack by Cedric Nathaniel actually discusses how we might think critically about philosophy, Instead of just thinking philosophically about philosophy, which then only lends itself a way out of itself to arrive back within itself, as do all theoretical mandates of theological dimension: there is always a transcendental “out” which leads back into the same state. Thinking philosophically about philosophy leads to the same state — that is, unless there occurs a “philosophical break” or Event, but then we’re getting into Zizekian waters there. Heh.
In light of my recent post about trying to speak to people who are not already informed about the “traditional” philosophical debates:
Of course what I’m writing here and this post is very informed by the jargon terms of philosophy and people and the ongoing issues in philosophy.
But I contend that if a person reads what I wrote without the invested idea that the reader needs to know what these other authors are saying in order to understand what I am saying, then they indeed will understand what I am saying. And this approach upon the text will inevitably lead the reader to understand what these other authors are saying before they read them Becuase when (if) they read them they will already have an understanding of the position from which they derive their discourses as a reader. (For, the significant philosophical question that is being set aside for our time —this time — is exactly how it is we are able to know what the author might be saying when every appropriation of text is subjective, I.e. subject to the Postmodern Condition, and then how what is read as not subjective is indeed constrained by correlation.)
What I am saying is that no one needs to understand what these other authors have said in order to understand what I’m saying about them. And if a person takes that approach to what I’m writing, then it doesn’t matter whether or not they’ve read anything by the Frankfurt school or not, becuase indeed critical thoery assumes that the subject is already in play in the state that it is in, such that reading, say, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, becomes unnecessary as due to the fact that the reader is already engaged in the significant discourse: The very discourse that will draw their intrest as a reader.
And this is the case because Critical Theory is not Philosophy, but rather uses philosophical ideals and tropes to make thier case which only concerns the reader under certain conditions.
We lead more by example than by instruction.
Philosophy is not a manner of thinking. But Critical Theory exemplifies what Thinking might be philosophically: critical thinking skills are not thinking philosophically unless there is already an investment in reproducing the “art” of “philosophical thinking”, which can be understood as indeed a type of thought linked to history and tradition.
But I could be wrong.
I don’t really know because no one leaves a comment!!!