From Freiburg to Frankfurt: Rovatti on Critical Theory and Phenomenology

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Damien Booth looks at Pier Aldo Rovatti’s “Critical Theory and Phenomenology,” from Telos 15 (Spring 1973).

The relationship between phenomenology and critical theory is a complex one that deserves a great deal of attention. On the one hand, Marcuse, as a student of Heidegger, maintained a certain level of affiliation with his thought, while, on the other, Lukács and Adorno were critical of phenomenology, with Heidegger in particular coming under criticism. In “Critical Theory and Phenomenology,” Pier Aldo Rovatti attempts to show how these two modes of thought may have a meaningful encounter.

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Sartre's Abandonment of Phenomenology

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Damien Booth looks at Ronald Aronson’s “Interpreting Husserl and Heidegger: The Root of Sartre’s Thought” from Telos 13 (Fall 1972).

Readers familiar with Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophical writings understand that he inherited a great deal of his conceptual language from the phenomenological projects of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. In “Interpreting Husserl and Heidegger: The Root of Sartre’s Thought,” Ronald Aronson strips away much of the mystery from Sartre’s concepts and, in so doing, reveals something about the framework that Sartre inherits that may well restrict his philosophical project from the very start. The accusation Aronson levies against Sartre is that he opens up a gap between consciousness and the world, a gap that Husserl wished to close by developing his transcendental phenomenological method. Essentially, Aronson thinks that Sartre abandons the very developments that made Husserl’s and Heidegger’s projects tenable in the first place: “we find [Sartre] erasing all the structures of consciousness (emotional, cognitive, and social) which make the world intelligible and making consciousness into a ‘nothing'” (47). As a result, Sartre becomes tangled up in his “own conceptual apparatus.” To find out why he gets so conceptually confused by these entanglements, Aronson traces Sartre’s key concepts back to their roots in Husserl’s cognitive projects and Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology.

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