Author

George Shea

Defense Date

5-4-2015

Graduation Date

2015

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Philosophy

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

James Swindal

Committee Member

Daniel Selcer

Committee Member

Thomas Rockmore

Keywords

Critical Theory, Foucault, Frankfurt School, Nietzsche, Post-Metaphysical

Abstract

My dissertation examines the theoretical ramifications that rejecting a metaphysical foundation has for providing critical and normative resources. While commentators often dismiss post-metaphysical philosophies as contradictory variants of anti-metaphysics, I demonstrate using the work of Nietzsche that they proceed from a deliberate "methodological decision" to suspend metaphysical assumptions. For this reason, while the methodological commitments of post-metaphysical critical social theories establish a theoretical orientation for their inquiries, they must forgo analyses that attribute domination to the distorting effects of illusion, error, or illegitimacy, and would thus cast liberation from domination as a return to a metaphysical foundation. In this light, Horkheimer's critique of instrumental reason ultimately fails insofar as it invokes a rational, human essence in need of liberation from the distorting effects of Western reason. Alternatively, Foucault's conception of critique, "the art of voluntary insubordination," succeeds as a viable post-metaphysical practice since it uniquely advances a form of social and political resistance that refrains from appealing to any such essences. In the end, my dissertation establishes the coherence of post-metaphysical methodologies in general as well as the import of the Frankfurt School and Foucault's normative resources specifically, both of which continue to be a source of debate in critical social theory.

Format

PDF

Language

English

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