What is critical theory? What is capitalism? Feat. Nancy Fraser




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  1. According to Fraser, critical theory is non-dogmatic Marxism.
    In other words, it's a way of engaging the Marx-influenced tradition in a philosophical and scientific way, instead of a religious way. Understanding the world systematically, rigorously, and scientifically does not mean taking Marx at his word using nothing more than concepts developed in his time, in includes arguing with, and extending, Marx. This means reading those who disagree with him. Where people like Jordan Peterson says the Frankfurt School's goal was to take the Marxian analysis away from economics into culture, the truth is that the Frankfurt School was a loose association of scholars who read Marx, Freud, Saussure, Nietzsche, etc., and continued to try to understand this world and its possibilities for liberation within this tradition without resigning themselves to unthinking dogmatism. What does it mean to work within the tradition critically? Well, what IS the tradition? The question is answered by looking to what Marx was doing: Drawing upon all necessary disciplines to understand the world we're in so that we can derive its possibilities for liberation. This eclecticism, the working with sociology, economics, linguistics, etc., is a signature technique that makes reading these theorists so difficult, because it's like they're coming from places of expertise in so many disciplines at once.

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