Tagged: Frankfurt School

Erich Fromm: Human Nature and Social Theory. 1969

The following letter Erich Fromm wrote in 1969 to the Russian philosopher Vladimir Dobrenkov shows his interest in connecting with socialist thinkers and to discuss with them his reception of Marx and his understanding of socialism. Dobrenkov wanted to write a book on Fromm and therefore started a correspondence with him. Fromm tried to clarify many topics Dobrenkov misunderstood. But Fromm’s clarifications did not have much effect on Dobrenkov’s book “Neo-Freudians in Search of Truth. (Published in many languages in the seventies. Moskau: Progress Publishers). This letter is a summary of Fromm’s concept of man and society; it shows Fromm’s understanding...

Erich Fromm: Territorialism and Dominance (1973)

In this short extract from [easyazon_link identifier=”080501604X” locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness[/easyazon_link], Erich Fromm rejects the idea that an instinct of territorialism exists that leads humans and animals to defend vast areas of territory they inhabit. He argues instead that there is a tendency to invade and appropriate new territories. In his view, this has nothing to do with innate human instincts, but with man-made aggressive ideologies and institutions. Here is the excerpt:  The popular picture of animal aggressiveness has been largely influenced by the concept of territorialism. [easyazon_link identifier=”B001UKYQUE” locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Robert Ardrey’s Territorial Imperative[/easyazon_link] (1967) has left the general public...

Erich Fromm: Mechanisms of Escape from Freedom (1942)

The following passages are from Chapter V of [easyazon_link identifier=”0415253888″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Fear of Freedom[/easyazon_link]Fear from Freedom. Erich Fromm explores and presents the psychological and social mechanisms that lead an individual to be afraid of freedom and to prefer to give it up. They appear as the tendency to be led by a “superior” power and/or to behave like a social automaton conforming to a role assigned to him by others or by circumstances. And there is also the drive to destructiveness (towards others or towards himself) when the feeling of powerlessness is overwhelming. It is interesting that in all of...

Max Horkheimer: Theism and Atheism. 1963

Source: [easyazon_link identifier=”178168023X” locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Critique of Instrumental Reason. Max Horkheimer.[/easyazon_link] Published by Continuum 1974. Crimes committed in the name of God are a recurrent theme in the history of Christian Europe. The ancients practiced torture and murder in war, on slaves (who were supplied by the wars) and as a form of entertainment: the circenses. But in spiritual matters the emperors were relatively tolerant. If the Christians were singled out as scapegoats, it was because they did not yet at that time place the state above all else and still recognized something higher than the empire. But since Constantine in...

Max Horkheimer: The Social Function of Philosophy. 1939

Written: in English in 1939; Source: [easyazon_link identifier=”0826400833″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Critical Theory. Selected Essays Max Horkheimer[/easyazon_link], published by Continuum 1982; WHEN the words physics, chemistry, medicine, or history are mentioned in a conversation, the participants usually have something very definite in mind. Should any difference of opinion arise, we could consult an encyclopedia or accepted textbook or turn to one or more outstanding specialists in the field in question. The definition of any one of these sciences derives immediately from its place in present-day society. Though these sciences may make the greatest advances in the future, though it is even conceivable...

The Frankfurt School

The “Frankfurt School” refers to a group of German theorists who developed powerful analyses of the changes in Western capitalist societies that occurred since the classical theory of Marx. Working at the Institut fur Sozialforschung in Frankfurt, Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, theorists such as Max Horkheimer, T.W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Leo Lowenthal, and Erich Fromm produced some of the first accounts within critical social theory of the importance of mass culture and communication in social reproduction and domination. The Frankfurt School also generated a critical cultural studies program that analyzes the processes of cultural production...

Max Horkheimer: Feudal Lord, Customer, and Specialist. 1964

Max Horkheimer: Feudal Lord, Customer, and Specialist. The End of the Fairy Tale of the Customer as King. Source: [easyazon_link identifier=”B01FIXWAI8″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Max Horkheimer: Critique of Instrumental Reason[/easyazon_link].  Published by Continuum 1974; Now that the bourgeois world is entering a new situation which may be interpreted either as more rational or as regressive, the forms of human relationship which originated in the feudal order and were transposed to a new level in the bourgeois order are about to be liquidated. Bourgeois culture was deeply influenced by the dignity, honor, and freedom of the feudal lord and, in the last analysis,...

Leo Löwenthal: On Sociology of Literature. 1948

Source: [easyazon_link identifier=”0878554890″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Literature and Mass Culture. Communication in Society,[/easyazon_link] Volume 1. Leo Lowenthal, published by Transaction Books, 1984. Leo Löwenthal (1900-1993) was a sociologist associated with the Frankfurt School. He began his career by joining the Institute for Social Research in 1927 and became managing editor of its journal Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung. Soon thereafter he migrated to the United States where he held various positions, including research director for Voice of America, the Stanford Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavior Sciences, and finally settled in the department of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His...

Erich Fromm: Humanistic Ethics (1947)

If we do not abandon, as ethical relativism does, the search for objectively valid norms of conduct, what criteria for such norms can we find? The kind of criteria depends on the type of ethical system – the norms of which we study. By necessity, the criteria in authoritarian ethics are fundamentally different from those in humanistic ethics.

In authoritarian ethics an authority states what is good for man and lays down the laws and norms of conduct; in humanistic ethics man himself is both the norm giver and the subject of the norms, their formal source or regulative agency and their subject matter.

Theodor Adorno: Minima Moralia. Part III, 1947

Avalanche, veux-tu m’emporter dans ta chute? French: Avalanche, won’t you carry me away in your fall? Baudelaire 101 Hothouse plant. – The talk of early or late development, seldom free of the death-wish for the former, is not binding. Whoever develops early, lives in anticipation. Their experience is an a prioristic, intuitive sensibility, which gropes in pictures and words for what is later redeemed in things and human beings. Such anticipation, satiated in itself, as it were, turns away from the external world and lends the color of something neurotically playful to the relationship to the latter. If early developers...

Theodor Adorno: Minima Moralia. Part II, 1945

Where everything is bad it must be good to know the worst. – F.H. Bradley 51 Behind the mirror. First word of caution for authors: check every text, every fragment, and every line to see if the central motif presents itself clearly enough. Whoever wants to express something, is so carried away that they are driven along, without reflecting on such. One is too close to the intention, “in thought,” and forgets to say, what one wants to say. No improvement is too small or piddling to be carried out. Out of a hundred changes, a single one may appear...

Theodor Adorno: Minima Moralia. Part 1, 1944

Dedication The melancholy science, from which I make this offering to my friend, relates to a realm which has counted, since time immemorial, as the authentic one of philosophy, but which has, since its transformation into method, fallen prey to intellectual disrespect, sententious caprice and in the end forgetfulness: the teaching of the good life. What philosophy once called life, has turned into the sphere of the private and then merely of consumption, which is dragged along as an addendum of the material production-process, without autonomy and without its own substance. Whoever wishes to experience the truth of immediate life,...

Walter Benjamin: Theological-Political Fragment

Quoted from: “Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings.” Translated by Peter Demetz. P. 312. “Only the Messiah himself consummates all history, in the sense that he alone redeems, completes, creates its relation to the Messianic. For this reason nothing historical can relate itself on its own account to anything Messianic. Therefore the Kingdom of God is not the telos of the historical dynamic: it cannot be set as a goal. From the standpoint of history it is not the goal but the end. Therefore the order of the profane cannot be built up on the idea of the Divine Kingdom, and...

Walter Benjamin: On the Concept of History

From Walter Benjamin: Illuminations. p. 253 This text was written in 1940 and is published in German in “Gesammelten Schriften I:2. Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt am Main, 1974.” I It is well-known that an automaton once existed, which was so constructed that it could counter any move of a chess-player with a counter-move, and thereby assure itself of victory in the match. A puppet in Turkish attire, water-pipe in mouth, sat before the chessboard, which rested on a broad table. Through a system of mirrors, the illusion was created that this table was transparent from all sides. In truth, a hunchbacked dwarf who...

Walter Benjamin – Biography

Walter Benjamin, born on July 15, 1892, studied philosophy in Freiburg, Munich, Berlin, and Bern. Earning a degree with his Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism, he was not successful in his attempt to become a university professor. His Habilitationsschrift, On the Origins of the German Trauerspiel, was rejected by Frankfurt University only to become a canonized classic of 20th Century literary criticism. Benjamin made his living as a free-lance author and translator in Berlin, where he also took part in German psychopharmacological research. A prolific critic, he was forced into exile by the Nazis in 1933. Emigrating to France,...

Dialektik der Aufklärung

Die in dem Buch erkannte Entwicklung zur totalen Integration ist unterbrochen, nicht abgebrochen; sie droht, über Diktaturen und Kriege sich zu vollziehen. Die Prognose des damit verbundenen Umschlags von Aufklärung in Positivismus, den Mythos dessen, was der Fall ist, schließlich die Identität von Intelligenz und Geistfeindschaft hat überwältigend sich bestätigt. Unsere Konzeption der Geschichte wähnt nicht, ihr enthoben zu sein, aber sie jagt nicht positivistisch nach Information. Als Kritik von Philosophie will sie Philosophie nicht preisgeben.

Horkheimer/Adorno: Dialectic of Enlightenment

The following text pieces are from the 1989 translation by John Cumming. Myth is already enlightenment; and enlightenment reverts to mythology. p. XVI _____________________ “Everything unknown and alien is primary and undifferentiated: that which transcends the confines of experience; whatever in things is more than their previously known reality. What the primitive experiences in this regard is not a spiritual as opposed to a material substance, but the intricacy of the Natural in contrast to the individual. The gasp of surprise which accompanies the experience of the unusual becomes its name. It fixes the transcendence of the unknown in relation...

Theodor Adorno

Here is a short biographical sketch of Adorno’s life from the  Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy: “Born on September 11, 1903 as Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund, Adorno lived in Frankfurt am Main for the first three decades of his life and the last two. He was the only son of a wealthy wine merchant of assimilated Jewish background and an accomplished musician of Italian Catholic descent. Adorno studied philosophy with the neo-Kantian Hans Cornelius and music composition with Alban Berg. He completed his Habilitationsschrift on Kierkegaard’s aesthetics in 1931, under the supervision of the Christian socialist Paul Tillich. After just two years...