The Frankfurt School and the young Habermas: Traces of an intellectual path (1956–1964)

Journal of Classical Sociology 15 (1):191-208 (2015)
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The aim of this study is to discern intersections between the intellectual path of the young Habermas and the issues addressed by the Positivismusstreit, the dispute between Popper and Adorno about methodology in the social sciences. I will present two perspectives, focusing on different temporal moments and interpretative problems. First, I will investigate the young Habermas’ relationship to the intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School: his views on philosophy and the social sciences, normative bases of critical theory and political attitudes. Second, I will reconstruct Habermas’ contemplation of the Positivismusstreit, in light of his social scientific research programme in the 1960s. The thesis supported is that Habermas developed a position diverging from those of Adorno and Horkheimer, and that his position reasserted the agenda of the ‘first critical theory’. This article highlight the discontinuity between the first and the second generation of the Frankfurt School, the constructive openness to other philosophical and sociological traditions, as well as the aporias of a theory of knowledge not yet oriented towards the programme of reconstructive sciences.
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