Theories of power in Modernity

Course Description

The course examines the trajectory of alienation and domination from Plato to the Frankfurt School. It generally comprises the following thematic areas:

1. The pro-neoteric critique: the degeneration of Polis in Plato and J-J Rousseau.

2. Alienation in industrial society: the generalization of the commodity form (K. Marx and G. Lukάcs).

3. The critique of Enlightenment and the naturalization of authority (the Frankfurt School).

4. Habermas’ critique to the materialist theory of power and the transition to communicative rationality.

The critique that Rousseau launches against the denaturalizing effects of civilization and the subsequent regression to brutality, takes the form of a critique of alienated labour and a critique of an all-encompassing process of reification in Lukács. For most of the Frankfurt School theorists, alienation is inseparable from those aspects of social life (in politics and law, in culture, as well as in the economy and the sciences) that entail clear, yet mediated relations of domination and power. Finally, the course examines Habermas’ attempt to move away from the traditional dualisms of forces and relations of production.


Students are expected to be prepared on questions and readings for each lecture.



Suggested bibliography:


-Πλάτων, Πολιτεία (Plato, The Republic) (Πόλις 2002).

-Rousseau, J-J [1762]: Το Κοινωνικό Συμβόλαιο (The Social Contract), (Πόλις, 2004).

-Lukács, G. [1923], Η Πραγμοποίηση και η Συνείδηση του Προλεταριάτου (Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat), (Εκκρεμές, 2006).

-Horkheimer, M. [1935-1936], «Γενικό Μέρος» («General Part») στο Horkheimer, M., Fromm, E., Marcuse, H., Αυθεντία και Οικογένεια (Studies on Authority), (Νήσος, 1995).

-Adorno Th., Horkheimer, M. [1944], Η Διαλεκτική του Διαφωτισμού (The Dialectic of Enlightenment) (Νήσος, 1996).

-Jay, Martin [1973], Η Διαλεκτική Φαντασία (The Dialectical Imagination) (Αλεξάνδρεια, 2009).

-Habermas, J. [1985], Ο Φιλοσοφικός Λόγος της Νεωτερικότητας (The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity) (Αλεξάνδρεια, 1993).


Koutsogiannis Alexandros


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