Let’s Start From the Beginning: Introduction to Modern Critical Thought

Good food and good company is hard to beat, but throw in some well-read philosophers, deep thinkers, and interesting newbies and the night is even better.

Notes from this meeting:

  • Main question: How would you summarize this introduction to critical theory, or what was your biggest take-away?
    • It is trying to explain what critical theory means. Is it self-reflective? Revolutionary?
    • Critique has a specific view point where art criticism is simply negative.
    • Thinkers are picking up a thought in its own domain and finding threads to understand it in its larger social and historical contexts.
    • It is not just understanding a text, but is taking the text to do something with it.
    • Society replaces “text” as it was originally used in literature studies. Language is the structure that is under scrutiny.
    • It’s not ideology, it is discourse.
    • You can look at capitalism as the seeds of possibility. Communism can only come from capitalism’s existence.
    • Critical theory is constantly problematizing narratives and ideas so it can’t make any change thought it claims to affect change.

Tangential topics that sprang up:

  • Heidegger’s Black Notebooks: He wasn’t really anti-Semitic, just an opportunist as a Nazi supporter. The Black Notebooks do not paint him to be anti-Semitic.
  • Habermas argued against post modernism saying that it is instead a “late mannered modernist movement.” Nothing new is presented but it is a complicated reworking of everything before it.
  • Art in post-modern criticism
  • Adorno’s Negative Dialectics
    • His pessimism is thrilling!

The purpose of CTC

  • Looking for folks to write about what they know, don’t know, and care about
  • Requested some people in the group to consider moderating a group and writing up posts.

Discussed reading and venue for next time:

  • A Cyborg Manifesto
  • Essay from Milne’s book that this introduction is from
  • Requested change of venue for the next meeting.

Original Post:

At the last critical theory discussion, we decided that it would be best to include context and have an introduction to modern critical thought, so…

What is Critical Theory?

A good definition: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Critical Theory

Critical Theory covers a wide range of disciplines, so it is more of an approach to interpretation and theory than a dogmatic school of thought. As Drew Milne says, “The interdisciplinary range of modern critical thought prompts reflection on the limits of disciplines and what might come after philosophy.” (Modern Critical Thought pg 2, emphasis added)

My definition: the bastard child of literary, philosophical, and social studies that includes but is not limited to continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, economics, gender studies, post-colonial studies and a healthy dose of bad writing.

If you are curious about what this interdisciplinary blob of discussions known as “critical theory” really is, then come to our next event where we will discuss the introduction to Milne’s Modern Critical Thought.

May 23rd, 2016

6 pm at Sociale

800 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60605

Mediterranean-inspired small plates, wine, cocktails, coffee, and pastries connected to Café Press.

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