Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Mathematical ImaginationOn the Origins and Promise of Critical Theory$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Matthew Handelman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823283835

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823283835.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

The Trouble with Logical Positivism: Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, and the Origins of Critical Theory

The Trouble with Logical Positivism: Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, and the Origins of Critical Theory

Chapter:
(p.25) One The Trouble with Logical Positivism: Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, and the Origins of Critical Theory
Source:
The Mathematical Imagination
Author(s):

Matthew Handelman

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823283835.003.0002

How did critical theory, at least as it was first envisioned by Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, come to be so opposed to mathematics? Chapter 1 examines the transformation of Horkheimer, Adorno, and Walter Benjamin’s prewar confrontation with Logical Positivism into a history of thinking that equated mathematics with the downfall of Enlightenment. According to the first generation of critical theorists, the reduction of philosophy to the operations and symbols of mathematics, as proposed by Logical Positivists such as Otto Neurath and Rudolph Carnap, rendered modern philosophy politically impotent and acquiesced to the powers of industry and authoritarian government. This initial phase of critical theory defined itself against the Logical Positivists’ equation of thought and mathematics, subsuming mathematics in their interpretation of reason’s return to myth and barbarism. Horkheimer and Adorno’s postwar texts and the work of second-generation critical theorists perpetuated this image of mathematics, canonizing it as an archetype of instrumental reason, reification, and social domination.

Keywords:   Adorno, Benjamin, critical theory, Frankfurt School, Horkheimer, Logical Positivism, mathematical logic, philosophy of language, Vienna Circle

Fordham Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .