Adorno and Horkheimer’s Critique of Instrumental Reason

Author : Nurten KİRİŞ YILMAZ -Muhammed KARAMOLLA
Number of pages : 3562-3580


Enlightenment is one of the important stages in the history of thought. Enlightenment ideal confronts religious conception, mythology and superstitions, while having an unwavering confidence in human, reason and experience. The progress in technology and natural sciences in the modern age is undoubtedly the result of this value given to reason and facts. But does progress in these areas show that we are also moving forward morally? Adorno and Horkheimer will answer this question as "no". According to them, the Enlightenment, which took place in the form of a dialectical historical process, has existed in every period of history and when it reaches its peak, it turns into a myth again. According to Adorno and Horkheimer, the aim of the Enlightenment, which represents a progressive ideal from the very beginning, has been to eliminate myths, remove the magic of the world, and save humanity from fear and make them masters. But at the point where this process came, the Enlightenment harmed itself and humanity was condemned to a new kind of barbarism instead of advancing. Reason, previously a critical force in its own right, was reduced to instrumentality and began to serve the preservation of the status quo. Thought is now such a tool that it has lost its objective basis to prevent it from turning to the bad and destructive instead of the good and the right. Because of the obsession with openness and simplicity that arise in philosophy, speculative thinking (capable of criticizing the dominant way of thinking) eats the label of verbal. The positivist understanding in the modern period denies any thought that cannot be transformed into quantitative expressions by pasting a literature label. The objects of thought have been reduced to matter, leaving aside quality and meaning, quantity and benefit have begun to be respected. In this study, it is aimed to examine the criticism of Enlightenment made by the two philosophers of the Frankfurt School in the context of instrumental reason and to reveal the aspects of the criticism that are not accurate to us.


Enlightenment, Critique, Adorno, Horkheimer

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