Marx, Wittgenstein and the Idea of Social Criticism

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Lotar Rasiński, Institute of Philosophy, University of Lower Silesia, Poland


    One of the main problemsof contemporary democracies is the growing gap between the reflection on democracy and actual democratic practice,resulting in the increasing incompatibility between political decision-making processesand democratic participation. I argue that this problem is closely connected to the crisis in contemporary critical theory, which has contributed to this discrepancy by supporting the liberal idea of the rational agreement (Habermas, Rawls). This is because this concept of rationality excludes as non-rational all voices and positions that do not fit the “rational agreement” launched in the Habermas’ “ideal speech situation”or in solutions proposed in the context of Rawls’ “the veil of ignorance”.This approach turns away from democracy those who are disenchanted by their lack of influence on state politics, and also helps to create the impression that there is no alternative to democracy and therefore one does need to work actively to support and keep it alive.
    The aim of the presentation is to demonstrate the idea of social criticism as an emancipatory practicefree of the claims of universal rationality and search for the foundations of critique. I postulate that this idea can be found in the young Marx’ concepts of critique as a “reform of consciousness”, and “partial (political) emancipation”. However, in order to free it from themetaphysical content (ideas of general human emancipation, Gattungswesen, etc.), I use Ludwig Wittgenstein’s tool of “therapy”, focused on “bringing words back from their metaphysical to everyday use.” I illustrate its contemporary exemplification on the example of Foucault’s concepts of genealogy and “expandingthe limits of freedom”.