Critical Theory and the Law
Forthcoming, Research Handbook on Critical legal Theory Christodoulidis, Dukes, Goldoni (eds.) Edward Elgar publishing.
26 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 6, 2018
The paper explores the origins of critical theory, Marx’s profound debt to Hegel and to Feuerbach as expressed in the 1844 Manuscripts and the Theses on Feuerbach respectively, then at a brief history of some of the post-war trajectories of its diaspora. Second it identifies key moments of the critical-theoretical enterprise, the basic premises of critical-theory-construction, by providing an inventory of terms and a (necessarily brief) explanation of them: the constitutive relationship of theory to practice or praxis; the dialectic and in particular the moment of negation; the idea of theory’s task of mediation as it is situated and embedded in history and the materiality of social reproduction; the genealogical viewpoint; and finally the specific reflexivity that develops and is expressed in and as immanent critique. In the third section it visits these concepts and the ways they interrelate by way of a close reading of Max Horkheimer’s essay ‘traditional and critical theory’, a text that despite certain limitations allows the differentia specifica of critical theory to emerge. The final part applies these insights to law, to look at whether and how legal method might carry the organising premises of critical thinking into the organisation of law’s semiotic field, into legal discourse and legal practice.
Keywords: critical theory, Marxism, praxis, dialectic
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