McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Critical Theory, Foucault, Frankfurt School, Nietzsche, Post-Metaphysical
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.
Shea, G. (2015). Inheriting Nietzsche: The Frankfurt School and Foucault on the Foundation of Critique (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1181