The Loss of Alienation in Contemporary Critical Theory

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Seminar 34 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Michael THOMPSON, William Paterson University, USA
Recent impulses in critical theory have tried either to rework the theory of alienation or have simply overlooked its salience, failing to incroporate it into theories of modern society, culture, consciousness and rationality. In this paper, I suggest that this loss of alienation in critical theory renders many of its contemporary proponents unable to grasp the defective aspects of modern capitalist society. Even more, their turn away from alienation as a concrete and central pathology of modern society and culture has allowed them to construct increasingly abstract and politically misguided approaches to political and social life.  My thesis will be that alienation needs to be reconstructed as a concept that affects the cognitive dimensions of moral and epistemological elements of the subject.  Only then can we see how alienation plays into a larger theory of social power and as a unifying theme in any critical theory of society.