Julia Hertlein

Critique in Context – Criticizing Critique

In the following synoptic text I discuss some of the most crucial pitfalls that arise when we talk about critique. Confronted with the proclaimed death of history, metaphysics and the subject, the project of emancipatory critique seems to have been in trouble for quite some time. Deprived of a single metanarrative which could provide a solid foundation for transformatory critique, recent debates on this subject have re-opened an interesting field of discussion. By first discussing two different but strongly interconnected aspects of critique (the more theoretical and the more social dimension), I reflect on the necessity to treat critique as an epistemological problem within the paradigm of “Situated Knowledges.” Against this backdrop I then discuss certain selected aspects of the aforementioned contemporary debates, which nail down a few important dilemmas like the immunization effect, or the local-versus-global problem. In my conclusion I argue for the urgent need of transdisciplinary communication between the Humanities and the Social Sciences when dealing with critique. In my opinion a meta-critical perspective on critique has to be combined with a sociological analysis of the social conditions (of both scientists and agents) which allow, encourage or frustrate transformatory critique.
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