Experimental Psychology - Criticism - Frankfurt School

Frankfurt School

See also: Frankfurt school, Herbert Marcuse, Theodore Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, Karl Popper, and Alasdair MacIntyre

One school opposed to experimental psychology has been associated with the Frankfurt School, which calls its ideas "Critical Theory." Critical psychologists claim that experimental psychology approaches humans as entities independent of the cultural, economic, and historical context in which they exist. These contexts of human mental processes and behavior are neglected, according to critical psychologists, like Herbert Marcuse. In so doing, experimental psychologists paint an inaccurate portrait of human nature while lending tacit support to the prevailing social order, according to critical theorists like Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas (in their essays in The Positivist Debate in German Sociology).

Critical theory has itself been criticized, however. While the philosopher Karl Popper "never took their methodology (whatever that may mean) seriously" (p. 289), Popper wrote counter-criticism to reduce the "'irrationalist' and 'intelligence-destroying'" "political influence" of critical theorists on students (Karl Popper pages 288–300 in ). The critical theorists Adorno and Marcuse have been severely criticized by Alasdair MacIntyre in Herbert Marcuse: An Exposition and Polemic. Like Popper, MacIntyre attacked critical theorists like Adorno and especially Marcuse as obscurantists pontificating dogma in the authoritarian fashion of German professors of philosophy of their era—before World War II—(page 11); Popper made a similar criticism of critical theory's rhetoric, which reflected the culture of Hegelian social studies in German universities (pp. 293–94). Furthermore, MacIntyre ridiculed Marcuse as being a senile revival of the young Hegelian tradition criticized by Marx and Engels (pp. 18–19, 41, and 101); similarly, "critical theory"'s revival of young Hegelianism and its criticism by Karl Marx was noted by Popper (p. 293). Marcuse's support for the political re-education camps of Maoist China was also criticized as totalitarian by MacIntyre (pp. 101–05). More recently, the Critical Theory of Adorno and Marcuse has been criticized as being a degeneration of the original Frankfurt school, particularly the work of empirical psychologist Erich Fromm, who did surveys and experiments to study the development of personality in response to economic stress and social change (Michael Macoby's Preface to Fromm's Social Character in a Mexican Village).

Read more about this topic:  Experimental Psychology, Criticism

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