Law and Religion in Early Critical Theory

  • Chris Thornhill

One attitude which connects all political and philosophical perspectives broadly associated with early Critical Theory is a fundamental scepticism regarding the processes of rationalisation, liberalisation and secularisation which have conditioned modern social reality. All early Critical Theorists share the view that the experiences of political autonomy and rational independence, usually taken to characterise liberal social and political modernity, are illusory. All argue that the emergence of rationality in its specifically secular or modern-liberal form – that is, as a universal capacity for organising knowledge and for regulating individual and collective action – is merely a mask which covers ideological strategies of material exploitation and intellectual depletion. The condition of autonomy offered by such secular rationality, they claim, in fact relies on the suppression of far greater freedoms, both cognitive and practical, than those which it purports to provide and sustain.


Critical Theory Human Reason Political Legitimacy Legal Subject Weimar Republic 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Chris Thornhill

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