Traditional and Critical Theory

Course Information
TitleΠαραδοσιακή και κριτική θεωρία / Traditional and Critical Theory
SchoolPhilosophy and Education
Cycle / Level1st / Undergraduate
Teaching PeriodWinter/Spring
CoordinatorKonstantinos Kavoulakos
Course ID600019658

Programme of Study: UPS School of Philosophy and Education (2011-today)

Registered students: 88
OrientationAttendance TypeSemesterYearECTS
CoreElective CoursesWinter/Spring-6
PhilosophyElected Compulsory DirectionalWinter/Spring-6
PedagogicElective CoursesWinter/Spring-6

Class Information
Academic Year2021 – 2022
Class PeriodWinter
Faculty Instructors
Weekly Hours3
Total Hours39
Class ID
Course Type 2021
Specialization / Direction
Mode of Delivery
  • Face to face
The course is also offered to exchange programme students.
Learning Outcomes
The course aims at familiarizing students with the problems of constituting a theory of knowledge as social theory through the analysis of Max Horkheimer’s “Traditional and Critical Theory” and other relevant philosophical texts of the 20th century. Upon completion of the course, students should • Have acquired a thorough understanding of the problems of the classical epistemology of the modern times (the opposition between subject and object, form and content etc.) from the standpoint of a dialectical epistemology. • Have acquired a deeper understanding of the attempt at a mediation between subject and object through a reformulation of the Hegelian approach to knowledge in the 20th Century.. • Know the basic characteristics of the approach to knowledge as an element of the social-historical process. • Have achieved a deeper understanding of the idea of the mediation of subject and object through social practice and, more generally, of the dialectical nature of the corresponding epistemological project. • Be familiarized with the basic representatives of this direction of the theory of knowledge of the 20th Century. • Be in a position to apply the concepts of a critical epistemology to contemporary discussions on the fundaments of valid knowledge by comparing them. • To be able to formulate critical remarks on such approaches from the standpoint of critical theory but also, reversely, to critique the latter on the basis of other theoretical perspectives. • To have acquired a good understanding of the problem of the relation between values and knowledge.
General Competences
  • Retrieve, analyse and synthesise data and information, with the use of necessary technologies
  • Adapt to new situations
  • Work autonomously
  • Work in teams
  • Generate new research ideas
  • Appreciate diversity and multiculturality
  • Be critical and self-critical
  • Advance free, creative and causative thinking
Course Content (Syllabus)
During the course we will read and discuss Max Horkheimer’s “Traditional and Critical Theory” and other fundamental texts of the critical theory tradition. We will refer to the following issues: 1) The materialist reformulation of Hegelian dialectics and the critique on the classical theory of knowledge of modern times: The problem of the chasm between subject and object. 2) The general idea of an alternative theory of knowledge: Knowledge as an element of a wider social process of humanity’s self-formation. 3) The mediation of subject and object through social praxis. 4) Society and history as a fundament of knowledge. 5) Analysis of these ideas in texts of M. Horkheimer: The critique of positivism and metaphysics. 6) Analysis of classic works by M. Horkheimer and Th. Adorno: The critique of instrumental reason. 7) Appraisal of the critique of the value-neutrality of knowledge and the idea of a dialectical relation between knowledge and historically constituted values.
Critical theory, traditional theory, materialism, dialectics, social theory of knowledge
Educational Material Types
  • Notes
  • Slide presentations
  • Book
Use of Information and Communication Technologies
Use of ICT
  • Use of ICT in Course Teaching
  • Use of ICT in Communication with Students
Course Organization
Reading Assigment1094.4
Student Assessment
Two-hours written examination, to consist of three questions covering the breadth of the course, of which two are to be answered (in essay form). Comprehending and answering the questions will require both knowledge and critical thinking.
Student Assessment methods
  • Written Exam with Extended Answer Questions (Summative)
Course Bibliography (Eudoxus)
1 Κωνσταντίνος Καβουλάκος, Πέρα από τη μεταφυσική και τον επιστημονισμό, Αλεξάνδρεια 2001, κωδ. Εύδοξου: 15491 2 Κωνσταντίνος Καβουλάκος, Κριτική θεωρία. Παράδοση και προοπτικές, Νήσος 2003, κωδ. Εύδοξου: 6235
Additional bibliography for study
1. Μ. Horkheimer, Φιλοσοφία και κοινωνική κριτική, Ύψιλον: Αθήνα 1984. 2. Μ. Horkheimer, Το πρόβλημα της αλήθειας, Έρασμος: Αθήνα 1989. 3. Μ. Horkheimer, «Η νεώτερη επίθεση κατά της μεταφυσικής», στο Γ. Κουζέλης (επιμ.), Επιστημολογία, Νήσος: Αθήνα 1993, σελ. 443-495. 4. Μ. Horkheimer, «Ιστορία και ψυχολογία», στο: Γ. Κουζέλης, Κ. Ψυχοπαίδης, Επιστημολογία των κοινωνικών επιστημών, Νήσος: Αθήνα 1996, σελ. 191-214. 5. Μ. Horkheimer κ.ά., Αυθεντία και οικογένεια, Νήσος: Αθήνα 1996. 6. Μ. Horkheimer, Theorie Critique: Essays/Max Horkheimer, Payot: Paris 1978. 7. M. Horkheimer, Απαρχές της αστικής φιλοσοφίας της ιστορίας, μτφρ. Π. Κονδύλης, Κάλβος: Αθήνα 1989. 8. M. Horkheimer, Eclipse of Reason (1947), New York: Continuum 1974. 9. M. Horkheimer, Η έκλειψη του Λόγου, Κριτική: Αθήνα 1987. 10. Μ. Horkheimer, Αυταρχικό κράτος, Ελεύθερος Τύπος: Αθήνα (χ.χ.).
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