Critical Theory and Democratic Vision (Hardcover)

Herbert Marcuse and Recent Liberation Philosophies

By Arnold L. Farr

Lexington Books, 9780739119310, 196pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2008

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The most broad and general description of critical theory (one of the most important movements in social and political philosophy in the twentieth and now twenty-first century) is that it is a synthesis of Marxist social critique and Freudian psychoanalysis with traces of German idealism. Farr argues that the goal demand for social change by critical theorists is rooted in a desire for the completion of the U.S. democratic experiment. There is too much exploitation, surplus repression, alienation, dehumanization, oppression, and gross economic inequality in the U.S. for us to believe that we have achieved a complete or finished democracy. Herbert Marcuse's form of critical theory provides us with important theoretical tools for addressing the ways in which our attempt to create a democratic society based on fairness, justice, and equality has been de-railed. While Marcuse experienced tremendous popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, his popularity has since waned in academic circles as well as in public political discourse. This book is an attempt to rescue from obscurity some of Marcuse's most helpful insights with respect to progressive, democratic social change. Its unique feature is an attempt to put Marcuse in dialogue with what Farr calls recent liberation philosophies such as feminism and African American philosophy. He takes all of these forms of philosophy to be driven by a democratic impulse whereby we are made to realize that there are many social groups that have been excluded from democratic decision-making processes.

About the Author

Arnold L. Farr is associate professor of philosophy and director of the Africana Studies Program at Saint Joseph's University.