This instrumental form of reason has led reason itself to become heteronomous; thus meaning that it is now subject to external governing laws rather than being objective. Pragmatism is analogous to subjective reason as it is concerned not with what is objectively true but what is practical for a given end. Reason has become completely harnessed to the social production. Its operational value, its role in the domination of men and nature has been made its sole criterion .
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In this, he responded critically to what he saw as the one-sidedness of both neo-Kantianism with its focus on concepts and Lebensphilosophie with its focus on expression and world-disclosure. Horkheimer did not think either was wrong, but insisted that the insights of each school on their own could not adequately contribute to the repair of social problems. This critical theory embraced the future possibilities of society and was preoccupied with forces which moved society toward rational institutions that would ensure a true, free, and just life.
Horkheimer sought to enable the working class to reclaim their power in order to resist the lure of fascism. Horkheimer stated himself that "the rationally organized society that regulates its own existence" was necessary along with a society that could "satisfy common needs".
It reached out for a total understanding of history and knowledge. In one of his writings, he states, "When we speak of an individual as a historical entity, we mean not merely the space-time and the sense existence of a particular member of the human race, but in addition, his awareness of his own individuality as a conscious human being, including recognition of his own identity. In this speech he related economic groups to the struggles and challenges of real life. Horkheimer often referenced human struggle and used this example in his speech because it was a topic he understood well.
The first is an evaluation of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Vico; the latter discusses the bourgeois control. In Beginnings of the Bourgeois Philosophy of History, Horkheimer explained "what he learned from the bourgeois rise to power and what of the bourgeois he thought was worth preserving. Objective reason deals with universal truths that dictate that an action is either right or wrong. It is a concrete concept and a force in the world that requires specific modes of behavior.
The focus in the objective faculty of reason is on the ends, rather than the means. Subjective reason is an abstract concept of reason, and focuses primarily on means. Specifically, the reasonable nature of the purpose of action is irrelevant — the ends only serve the purpose of the subject generally self-advancement or preservation.
To be "reasonable" in this context is to be suited to a particular purpose, to be "good for something else". This aspect of reason is universally conforming, and easily furnishes ideology. In instrumental reason, the sole criterion of reason is its operational value or purposefulness, and with this, the idea of truth becomes contingent on mere subjective preference hence the relation with subjective reason.
In his writing Horkheimer states, "Social power is today more than ever mediated by power over things. He concludes, "If by enlightenment and intellectual progress we mean the freeing of man from superstitious belief in evil forces, in demons and fairies, in blind fate — in short, the emancipation from fear — then denunciation of what is currently called reason is the greatest service we can render. Horkheimer believed that the illnesses of modern society are caused by misunderstanding reason: if people use true reason to critique their societies, they will be able to solve problems they may have.
Despite the explicit common referrals to "subjective" reason in the book, his frequent connecting of it with relativism could be an indication that by "subjective reason" Horkheimer also means "relativist reason". Dialectic of Enlightenment[ edit ] Main article: Dialectic of Enlightenment Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno collaborated to publish Dialectic of Enlightenment, which was originally published in The inspiration for this piece came from when Horkheimer and Adorno had to flee Germany, because of Hitler, and go to New York.
They went to America and "absorbed the popular culture"; thinking that it was a form of totalitarianism. Along with that, Horkheimer and Adorno had a few arguments; one being that these mass-produced products only appear to change over time. Horkheimer and Adorno stated that these products were so standardized in order to help consumers comprehend and appreciate the products with little attention given to them.
They expressed, "the result is a constant reproduction of the same thing" Adorno and Horkheimer, . However, they also explain how pseudo-individuality is encouraged among these products in order to keep the consumers coming back for more. They argue that small differences in products within the same area are acceptable. In return, capitalism remains in power while buyers continue to consume from the industry. To support their claim, Horkheimer and Adorno, "proposed an antidote: not just thinking the relations of things, but also, as an immediate second step, thinking through that thinking, self-reflexively.
Nonetheless, Horkheimer and Adorno believed that art was an exception, because it "is an open-ended system with no fixed rules"; thus, it could not be an object of the industry. In his book, "Social Theory", Alex Callinicos claims that Dialectic of Enlightenment offers no systematic account of conception of rationality, but rather professes objective reason intransigently to an extent.
Eclipse Of Reason
He writes with the perfect combination of exceptional erudition and a burning passion that would make Nietzsche proud. The Eclipse of Reason is an unrelenting assault on the various disciplines that fall prey to what Horkheimer describes as subjective reason. Horkheimer believes that virtually every element of society is suffering from the glorification of subjective reason as the only reason, which leads, he believes, to the inevitable descent into relativism, which in turn undermines the meanings of every action, and drags society kicking and screaming into a nihilistic abyss. We placed our faith in science, and science repaid us in kind with the most ruthlessly effective means of wholesale destruction of human life ever imagined. It is in this context that Horkheimer writes; his continuing relevance suggests we are far from recovered from this nadir. Horkheimer essentially believes that reason ate itself. In The Enlightenment it positioned itself — though not initially explicitly — as a challenger to the crown of religion as the leading source of cultural meaning-making.
Max Horkheimer – Eclipse of Reason
I have had high hopes for it and have not been disappointed. Subjective reason is the kind of reasoning that is used to most efficiently achieve ones goals, whatever they are. Writing even as early as , Horkheimer notes that subjective reason has become formalized and reduced to the computation of technical probabilities. He is referring to the formalization of logic in the Anglophone tradition by Russell and Whitehead and its use in early computer science, most likely.