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ronprice On December 23, 2014

George Town, Australia
#1New Post! Aug 22, 2010 @ 13:43:46
Critical theory, a type of framework for the analysis of society in the field of sociology, was first defined by Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School of sociology in his 1937 essay Traditional and Critical Theory. Critical theory, Horkheimer wrote, is a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to just understanding or explaining society. Coincidentally, the implementation of the first systematic teaching Plan of the North American Baha?i community was put in place that same year. The Baha?i teachings were also oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, but on an entirely different basis to Max Horkheimer and the Frankfurt School of sociology.

Horkheimer wanted to distinguish and establish critical theory as a radical, emancipatory form of Marxian theory. His theory contained a critique of the model of science as an absolutist system of truth and fact. It was also a critique of what he and his colleagues saw as the authoritarianism of orthodox Marxism and Communism. The core concepts of his critical theory were: (1) that it should be directed at the totality of society in its historical specificity, in how it came to be configured at a specific point in time, and (2) that it should improve the understanding of society by integrating all the major social sciences, including geography, economics, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and psychology.1

The Baha?i teachings as they have been enunciated, written and interpreted within the Baha?i administrative order have evolved from the writings of the Founder of the Baha?i Faith, Baha?u?llah. They, too, are directed at the totality of society and aim at an integration of all the major social sciences. They provide a vital, dynamic theoretical structure with a deep historical consciousness. It is a consciousness that sees truth as relative. This relativistic historical outlook creates an open, tolerant and liberal system of thought. These teachings possess a dialectical worldview with a basis in humanistic and democratic premises, and a view of reality as in a perpetual state of flux and change.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1Wikipedia and 2Nader Saiedi, ?Dialogue With Marxism,? Circle of Unity: Baha?i Approaches to Current Social Issues, Kalimat Press, Los Angeles, 1984, pp. 235-256.

I got into sociology and the Baha?i Faith
in a serious way back in ?63-4 when my
teen-age years were closing?and as the
full institutionalization of a charismatic
Force was finally taking place. My own
world was disturbed by a disorder little1
understood by me or by anyone back at
the time. Sociology and this new Faith
are still part of me nearly half a century
later?..both critical theory and Baha?i
as emerging world religion have been
transformed in those years..decades as
a tempest has blown over the planet---
uprooting its institutions and peoples!!

1 bipolar disorder

Ron Price
22 August 2010
ronprice On December 23, 2014

George Town, Australia
#2New Post! Aug 22, 2010 @ 13:59:56
More on Critical Theory-Ron

The year I began my pioneering life and the year before I took my first course in sociology and its theories, sociologist and culture theorist, J?rgen Habermas published his The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere(1962). Habermas was, then, a student of the Frankfurt School of Social Research-which since the 1930s had been advancing a Marxist critique of western capitalism and its discontents. Habermas wrote The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962) to explore the status of public opinion in the practice of representative government in Western Europe. Habermas defined the public sphere as a virtual or imaginary community which does not necessarily exist in any identifiable space. In its ideal form, the public sphere is "made up of private people gathered together as a public and articulating the needs of society with the state.? -Ron Price with appreciation to Jurgen Habermas, op.cit., p.176.

Through acts of assembly and dialogue, the public sphere generates opinions and attitudes which serve to affirm or challenge and, therefore to guide, the affairs of state. In ideal terms, the public sphere is the source of public opinion needed to "legitimate authority in any functioning democracy" -Ron Price with thanks to Paul Rutherford, Endless Propaganda: The Advertising of Public Good, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2000, p.18.

In that same year, 1962, I was 18 and my family moved to a nearby town. I did my matriculation studies and Jacques Ellul echoed Habermas' concern in his Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes(1962). Ellul's term "the propaganda of integration" included biased newscasts, misinformation and political education which worked over time to shape the individual to suit the needs of social mechanisms. Ellul argued that propaganda is necessary in a democracy, even though it can create zombies of its citizens. "Propaganda is needed in the exercise of power for the simple reason that the masses have come to participate in political affairs."

In 1962 Herbert Marcuse was finishing his One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. This book analyzed the new "voice of command" used by managers, educators, experts, and politicians. This style of address, appropriated from advertising, had a hypnotic effect, argued Marcuse. The syntax of this speech and writing is abridged and condensed, giving the language more directness and assertiveness; it uses an emphatic concreteness, constant use of "you" and "your," and endlessly repeats images to fix them in people's minds. This style of rhetoric in Marcuse's terms creates the "one-dimensional" citizen, incapable of protest or refusal. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, April 7th 2006.
ronprice On December 23, 2014

George Town, Australia
#3New Post! Aug 22, 2010 @ 23:32:54
A final piece in this thread on one of Europe's most prominent thinkers in the tradition of critical thoery in sociology.-Ron

In 1962 Jurgen Habermas(b.1929-), a German who became one of the most influential sociologists and philosophers in the world during the decades of his middle and late adulthood, accepted the position of extraordinary professor of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg. That same year, he also published one of his now famous books on the nature of society. He was 33. In 1962 I began my matriculation studies in Ontario and began my travelling-pioneering life for the Canadian Baha?i community. I was 18. I am now 66 and Habermas is 81.

I have followed the career and the writing of Habermas since the 1990s when I was a teacher of sociological theory in Western Australia. Like much writing in the field of sociology, the content of this eminent thinker?s work is dense and complex and most students find it a parched and arid wasteland. But some catch an intellectual fire of enthusiasm for Habermas among one or more of the many wide intellectual currents and territories of sociology, as I did back in the 1960s and got a B.A.(sociology) in 1966.-Ron Price with thanks to ?Jurgen Habermas,? Wikipedia, 15 August 2010.

It?s pretty turgid stuff for the average
person; it dried me out by the end of
my third year of university as many
other aspects of life took me to that
tether?s-end like a dry dog-biscuit or
a frozen wasteland just surviving by
the skin of my teeth, little did I know
back then just what my problems were
for it is impossible to see the end in the
beginning: so many things take time as
those wheels of God grind very slowly.

But the fires of my enthusiasm for that
new science of groups was rekindled on
my way to Baffinland & then at the other
end of the Earth in Tasmania...they raged
in my mental-set and they?ve been going
out and getting set on fire off-and-on now
for nearly 50 years?.You were lucky that
those fires, Jurgen, kept burning, burning!

Ron Price
15 August 2010
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