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'On genealogy and ideology criticism'

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:44 authored by Christopher John Allsobrook
This thesis identifies and explains a fundamental philosophical problem of self-implication in Marxian ideology criticism that has led to its misuse and rejection in social theory and political philosophy. I argue that Friedrich Nietzsche’s development of genealogy as a method of social criticism complements ideology criticism in a way that overcomes this problem, by addressing it explicitly, rather than trying to avoid it. In making this argument, I hope to bridge a widely perceived gap between Nietzsche’s and Michel Foucault’s genealogical approaches to social criticism, on the one hand, and Marxian ideology criticism on the other. The conflict between these approaches has been exaggerated in contemporary academic literature, to the loss of invaluable contributions Nietzsche and Foucault make to the theory and practice of ideology criticism. I begin by defining ideology in way that, I demonstrate, takes into account the use of the notion by Karl Marx and the early Frankfurt School Critical Theorists, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. I identify two central components of ideology, namely, an epistemic aspect, regarding illusion, and a functional aspect, which links ideology to its role in maintaining oppression. I also defend the notion of ideology against major objections to each of these aspects. In Chapter 4, I introduce the problem of self-implication that, I take it, poses the greatest challenge to the coherence of ideology criticism. The remainder of the thesis examines two alternative ways of dealing with this problem, namely immanent and transcendent criticism. I explain the weaknesses with each approach and, in doing so, show why Marx and Adorno each succumb to the problem of ideological self-implication. In the final chapter I argue that Nietzsche’s method of genealogy is compatible with ideology criticism and can complement such criticism, to overcome the problems that have been examined.


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