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Immanent Critique as the Core of Critical Theory: Its Origins and Developments in Hegel, Marx and Contemporary Thought

Robert J. Antonio
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Sep., 1981), pp. 330-345
DOI: 10.2307/589281
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/589281
Page Count: 16
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Immanent Critique as the Core of Critical Theory: Its Origins and Developments in Hegel, Marx and Contemporary Thought
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Abstract

My goal is to explain the intellectual and historical basis of critical theory - a term with vague and imprecise meaning for sociologists. Confusion about the approach is more fundamental than that usually attributed to its difficult, philosophical terminology. The central issue is that critical theory is not a general theory, but is instead a method of analysis deriving from a nonpositivist epistemology. The focus will be upon the method of immanent critique, its Hegelian-Marxist roots and its development as the central mode of critical theoretic analysis. Immanent critique is a means of detecting the societal contradictions which offer the most determinate possibilities for emancipatory social change. The commentary on method cannot be separated from its historical application, since the content of immanent critque is the dialectic in history.

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