Book Review: Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions: Evolutionary Perspectives by Hauke Brunkhorst

Journal of Law and Society, 312-18, 42, 2, 2015

8 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2016

Date Written: January 29, 2016


Critical theory was always characterised by a particular attempt to develop a general theory of society on the basis of an integrative approach characterised by a combination of philosophy and sociology and of normative and descriptive approaches. In Frankfurt, the original epicentre of this particular school of thought, this has however come to an end. Contemporary Frankfurt theorists essentially have abandoned the sociological and descriptive dimension and re-casted what is left of the Frankfurt School into a subdivision of Anglo-American analytical political philosophy. As apparent from the book under review and his entire oeuvre, Hauke Brunkhorst, the last of the Mohicans of real Frankfurt style critical theory, have always resented this development. He has therefore found himself in internal exile at the University of Flensburg, the intellectual equivalent of Siberia in the German academic context, for the last decades. The exceptionally brilliance of the book under review thereby confirms the old insight, which has been illustrated again and again throughout history, that the best books tend to be written in exile. Written by authors who did not correspond with the prevailing Zeitgeist but who nonetheless choose to stick to their guns.

Keywords: Hauke Brunkhorst, Law, social theory, critical theory, sociology, systems theory, marxism, Kant, Hegel, Hegelianism, Marx, revolutions, French Revolution, Papal Revolution, social evolution, emancipation, normativity, progress, Russian Revolution, post-colonial studies, Sociology of Law

Suggested Citation

Kjaer, Poul F., Book Review: Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions: Evolutionary Perspectives by Hauke Brunkhorst (January 29, 2016). Journal of Law and Society, 312-18, 42, 2, 2015. Available at SSRN:

Poul F. Kjaer (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000

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