Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lectures by Martin Jay on the Frankfurt School and Habermas (video)

In November 2012, Professor Martin Jay gave three George L. Mosse Lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, titled "After the Eclipse: The Light of Reason in Late Critical Theory".

The lectures are uploaded at YouTube:

"Lecture 1: The First Generation of the Frankfurt School"
Abstract: During the l940’s, the Frankfurt School lost its confidence in a substantive or emphatic concept of reason, which might survive its degeneration into instrumental, subjective and formal rationality and serve as a vehicle of social emancipation. Attempts were made by Herbert Marcuse to generate an expanded notion of reason by including an “erotic” component and Theodor W. Adorno by combining it with the moment of mimesis in works of art. But the first generation of Critical Theorists was hard pressed to salvage a plausible way to rescue the stronger concept of reason Max Horkheimer had lamented as “eclipsed” in the modern world.

"Lecture 2: Reason Regrounded: Habermas's Gamble"
Abstract: The most creative member of the Frankfurt School’s second generation, Jürgen Habermas, attempted to establish a new ground for a critical notion of reason, albeit one that was explicitly postmetaphysical. His alternative involved the following departures from the earlier Frankfurt School’s emphatic alternative: 1) the desubstantialization of reason 2) the detranscendentalization of reason 3) the linguistification of reason, 4) the desublimation of reason 5) the pluralization of reason 6) the proceduralization of reason 7) the temporalization of reason as a future project. 8) the “as if“ narrativization of reason as an evolutionary standard by which to measure the potential realization of that future.

"Lecture 3: From the Age of Reason to the Age of Reasons"
Abstract: Despite the still unresolved issues in his ambitious system, Habermas’s paradigm shift to a model of rationality stressing the role of intersubjective justification in what Wilfred Sellars famously called “the space of reasons” offers a plausible way to tap the still emancipatory potential in the rationalist tradition. Without depending on a vulnerable metaphysical notion of reason or an untenable universalism, he escapes the charge made by champions of reasons various “others” that reason necessarily excludes and stigmatizes what it cannot colonize and control. In his later work, he modifies his initial faith in a purely discursive model of justification and validity-testing, acknowledging the role of external reality in shaping the never-ending learning process that is made possible by communicative rationality.

Martin Jay is Professor of History at the University of California Berkeley. He is the author of "The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research 1923-1950" (Little, Brown and Co., 1973) and editor of "Reification: A New Look At An Old Idea" (Oxford University Press, 2008).

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