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Here’s a very lucid, clear description of repeated antagonism between intellectuals who identify as critical theorists and those who see their work in scientistic or positivistic terms.

Raymond Geuss, The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt School, 1981.

“Critical theories are particularly sensitive to the kind of philosophic error embodied in positivism. It is perfectly possible, the members of the Frankfurt School will claim, for persons with woefully mistaken epistemological views to produce, test, and use first-order theories in natural science, but this is not the case with critical theories. There is a close connection between having the right epistemology and ability to formulate, test and apply first-order theories which successsfully produce enlightenment and emancipation. For this reason positivism is no particular obstacle to the development of natural science, but is a serious threat to the main vehicles of human emancipation, critical theories. One basic goal of the Frankfurt School is the criticism of positivsm and the rehabilitation of ‘reflection’ as a category of valid knowledge.” p. 2.

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