In the Spirit of Critique

Thinking Politically in the Dialectical Tradition

By Andrew J. Douglas

Subjects: Critical Theory, Political Theory, Political Philosophy, Philosophy, Marxism
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438448404, 183 pages, July 2014
Hardcover : 9781438448411, 183 pages, December 2013

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
The Dialectical Tradition
A Spirit of Critique
The Story
2. Restaging the Dialectic
Dialectical Lightheartedness
Dialectical Despair
Nietzschean Disillusionment
3. In a Milieu of Scarcity
A Qualified Reading
Sartre’s Dialectical Lens
“In a Milieu of Scarcity”
“An Infernal Machine”
Reflective Limitation
4. Between Despair and Redemption
“In Face of Despair”
“From the Standpoint of Redemption”
Democracy to Come
5. The Instinctive Dialectic
Contours of a Romantic Humanism
Hegelian Pastiche
The Tragedy of Self-Activity
6. Conclusion

Offers a new perspective on the political significance of the Hegelian dialectical legacy.


Focusing on the critical postures of Hegel, Marx, and a series of twentieth-century intellectuals, including Sartre, Adorno, and C. L. R. James, this book explores what dialectical thinking entails and how such thinking might speak to the lived realities of the contemporary political moment. What is revealed is not a formal method or a grand philosophical system, but rather a reflective energy or disposition—a dialectical spirit of critique—that draws normative sustenance from an emancipatory moral vision but that remains attuned principally to conflict and tension, and to the tragic uncertainties of political life. In light of the unique challenges of the late-modern age, as theorists and citizens struggle to sustain an active and coherent critical agenda, In the Spirit of Critique invites serious reconsideration of a rich and elusive intellectual tradition.

Andrew J. Douglas is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Morehouse College.


"…provides a masterful overview of the dialectical tradition that runs from Kant and Hegel through Marx and up to Sartre, Theodor Adorno, and the Trinidadian Marxist, C. L. R. James. " — Perspectives on Politics