The Politics of the Unspoken in Max Horkheimer

Motta, Pier Paolo. 2022. The Politics of the Unspoken in Max Horkheimer. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Max Horkheimer has a special place in German critical theory. Unlike Adorno and others who lean on Hegelian paradigm, Horkheimer draws upon Schopenhauer’s metaphysics. Schopenhauer gives us a critique of representation which Horkheimer understands to be of a piece with instrumental rationality and so a critique of capitalism. This thesis argues that Horkheimer’s use of critique of representation is a break with Kantian First Critique notions of time, space and causation. It presents a deep linguistic reading of such a critique of representation and its categories as predicational or propositional language. From the standpoint of this linguistic reading, the study explores a Horkheimer-inspired politics based on the Kantian conception of hope and the Judaic prohibition of the image of God. This notion of hope is for Horkheimer conceived as a longing for the totally other. We explore these thematic as a philosophy of political practice to conclude with a theoretical framework for a politics of emancipation inspired by Horkheimer’s thought.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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This is an edited version of the thesis, with third-party copyright material removed.


Critical Theory, Frankfurt School, Horkheimer, Politics, Schopenhauer, Critique

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31 October 2022

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Date Deposited:

21 Nov 2022 14:18

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 13:08


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