Debating Critical Theory: An Introduction

Julia Christ, Kristina Lepold, Daniel Loick, Titus Stahl

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


One of the distinctive features of a critical theory of society in the tradition of the Frankfurt School is the fact that it conceives of itself not as investigating timeless truths, but as historically embedded and as engaging with the “struggles and wishes of the age.” It is thus entirely appropriate, and indeed necessary, for critical theorists to reflect about their work in terms of its own contemporary context. At the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, few theorists are as influential in debates in critical theory as Axel Honneth. Even though critical theory today can be understood less as forming a coherent “school” than it could have been at times in the twentieth century, and even though a robust pluralism of methods, concepts, and political commitments is now one of the defining features of this tradition, there can be no doubt that Honneth’s work represents a central point of reference for countless contemporary contributions to critical theory. This is because Honneth’s work has not only shaped debates about the very idea of a critical theory, but in doing so also proposed a new way to link critical theory and the social sciences as well as theory and social struggles (in other words, practic).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDebating Critical Theory
Subtitle of host publicationEngagements with Axel Honneth
EditorsJulia Christ, Kristina Lepold, Daniel Loick, Titus Stahl
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRowman and Littlefield International
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781786614803
ISBN (Print)9781786614780, 9781786614797
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2020

Publication series

NameEssex Studies in Contemporary Critical Theory
PublisherRowman and Littlefield


  • Axel Honneth
  • critical theory

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