The Critique of Instrumental Reason As Alienated Reason
But the critique of instrumental reason has gone into decline. On the one hand, this is due to the work of some Frankfurt theorists themselves, notably Theodor Adorno and the conception of thinking in “constellations” that he drew from Walter Benjamin and has influenced post-structuralist appropriators of critical theory. On the other, this is due to the devastating attacks launched on the concept by second and third generation Frankfurt theorists. This paper argues against contemporary critical theorists for the ongoing validity of the critique of instrumental reason and, more importantly, that this critique should be informed by a conception of instrumental reason as alienated reason. It also defends the notion that such a critique can be founded on stable social scientific grounds and need not take the form of the kind post-structualist tendencies embraced by some readers of the late writings of Adorno.