What is immanent critique?

Abstract

This working paper examines the notion of "immanent critique", a central methodological commitment of critical theories of society. In the first part, I distinguish immanent critique - a critique which reconstructs norms immanent in a social practice which point beyond the normative self-understanding of its members - from both external and internal critique and examine three questions that a theory of immanent critique has to answer (a social ontological, an epistemological and a justificatory question). After surveying some of the classic accounts of immanent critique in part two, I then distinguish two varieties of immanent critique, a hermeneutic and a practice-theoretic approach. Drawing on theories in recent analytic philosophy, I finally argue for a practice-theoretic approach to immanent critique that locates the relevant norms in a practice constituted by mutual recognition.

Author's Profile

Titus Stahl
University of Groningen

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2014-10-22

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