Center for Open Access in Science (COAS)
ISSN (Online) 2560-5380 *


2018 - Volume 2 - Number 2

Limits of Critical Theory, Critique and Emancipation in Habermas’ Critique of Horkheimer and Adorno

Fasil Merawi * * ORCID: 0000-0002-9661-4503 * ResearcherID: Y-9591-2018
Addis Ababa University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Philosophy

Open Journal for Studies in Philosophy, 2018, 2(2), 53-64 *
Online Published Date: 27 December 2018

LICENCE: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ARTICLE (Full Text - PDF)

KEY WORDS: enlightenment, myth, communicative reason.

Habermas’ critical theory is partly an attempt to identify the limitations of critique and emancipation as espoused in the first generation critical theory of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. In their attempt to develop an interdisciplinary, reflexive, emancipatory and dialectical reason that is critical towards accepted realities, Horkheimer and Adorno in their monumental work The Dialectic of Enlightenment pictured a world trapped in instrumental rationality. Taking and revolutionizing traditional critical theory, Habermas argues that reason entails both emancipator as well as instrumental possibilities. Through an exposition of Habermas’ critique of Horkheimer and Adorno in his discourse of modernity, this article argues that although Habermas successfully identifies the equation of the rational with the instrumental and offers an emancipator model in return; still he ends up not paying sufficient attention to aesthetic truth.

Fasil Merawi, Lecturer, Addis Ababa University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA. E-mail:


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