What is Immanent Critique?

20 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2013 Last revised: 3 Jun 2014

Date Written: November 21, 2013


This working paper examines the notion of "immanent critique", a central methodological commitment of critical theories of society. In the first part, I distinguish immanent critique - a critique which reconstructs norms immanent in a social practice which point beyond the normative self-understanding of its members - from both external and internal critique and examine three questions that a theory of immanent critique has to answer (a social ontological, an epistemological and a justificatory question). After surveying some of the classic accounts of immanent critique in part two, I then distinguish two varieties of immanent critique, a hermeneutic and a practice-theoretic approach. Drawing on theories in recent analytic philosophy, I finally argue for a practice-theoretic approach to immanent critique that locates the relevant norms in a practice constituted by mutual recognition.

Keywords: Immanent Critique, Internal Critique, Social Practices, Critical Theory

Suggested Citation

Stahl, Titus, What is Immanent Critique? (November 21, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2357957 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2357957

Titus Stahl (Contact Author)

Department of Philosophy ( email )


HOME PAGE: http://www.rug.nl/staff/u.t.r.stahl/

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