Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 32, Issue 2, 2022

Two Problems of Digitilization—Virtual Negotiations and 4th Space

Małgorzata Czarnocka
Pages 175-196

Instrumental Reason and Science—Max Horkheimer’s View

The paper analyses today partly forgotten Max Horkheimer’s conception of instrumental reason which presents this reason differently from the definition widespread today (claiming that it consists in adopting suitable means to set ends). Horkheimer relates instrumental reason to subjective one, seeing the former as a degenerate form of the latter. His theory is far more philosophical than the dominating today conceptions which do not consider the problem of instrumental reason philosophical any longer and instead move it step by step to the domain of a nonphilosophical decision theory. The paper analyses in particular Horkheimer’s beliefs claiming that 1) it is science which founds instrumental reason, and therefore 2) it is science which is the main source of oppressiveness and degradation of the contemporary civilization. It is shown among other things that Horkheimer misunderstands some properties of science and its operations and this leads to his incorrect presentation of the role of instrumental reason.