Séminaire Histoire des SHS
13 novembre 2020 (en visio, 13h-15h)
13 novembre 2020 (en visio, 13h-15h) : Fabian Link (Institut für Sozialforschung, Université de Francfort/Main et Université de Wuppertal) “Critical Theory and the Age of Totalitarianism: The “Frankfurt School,” Auschwitz, and the Cold War”
This paper deals with the history of the “Frankfurt School” from 1930, when Max Horkheimer became director of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, to Theodore W. Adorno’s death in 1969, with which the first generation of the “Frankfurt School” ended. The focus is on research practices, the relationship of social research to politics, industry, and the public, and the public reception of social knowledge generated by Horkheimer, Adorno, and other members of the Institute. The paper contextualizes the “Frankfurt School” first in the Weimar Republic (Germany), then in exile during the Nazi regime and World War II (Switzerland, United States), and finally in the early Cold War (West Germany), and follows two theses: The first is that the emigration of the members of the Institute for Social Research and the adaptation to the American scientific and intellectual field they were forced to make resulted in the fragmentation of their original concept of a holistic-collective program of social research developed in Frankfurt am Main during the Weimar Republic into three separated directions: empirical social research, social philosophy, and democratic education policy informed by social knowledge. The paper thus contributes to the current discussion about the characteristics of “Cold War Social Science,” as presented by Mark Solovey and Hamilton Cravens in 2012. Taking the “Frankfurt School” as example, the paper claims that something like a definite social science did not exist during the early Cold War, but rather “social science” was a collective term that consisted of several approaches and practices of social research. The use of the term was a result of the strategies social researchers in West Germany pursued to provide social science as new democratization science that needed state support. The second thesis is that the major works by Horkheimer, Adorno, and others, such as The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), The Authoritarian Personality (1950), Minima Moralia (1951), The Group Experiment (1955), and Negative Dialectics (1966), must be regarded as explorations of the age of totalitarianism, of which Auschwitz was the most extreme outcome. Seen from this angle, the “Frankfurt School’s” major aim was the development of a profound critique of totalitarianism as a dominating element of modern society, among which Horkheimer and Adorno not only counted Fascism, National Socialism, Stalinism, and Maoism, but also the consumption industry of Western liberal societies in the twentieth century.
Emanuel Bertrand, Jacqueline Carroy, Wolf Feuerhahn, Serge Reubi, Nathalie Richard