Loïc Wacquant: Critical Thought as Solvent of Doxa

One can give two senses to the notion of critique: a sense one could call Kantian, in the lineage of the philosopher of Königsberg, which refers to the evaluative examination of categories and forms of knowledge in order to determine their cognitive validity and value; and a Marxian sense, which trains the weapons of reason at socio-historical reality and sets itself the task of bringing to light the hidden forms of domination and exploitation which shape it so as to reveal by contrast the alternatives they thwart and exclude (recall Horkheimer’s definition of “critical theory” as theory that is at the same time explanatory, normative, practical, and reflexive).

It seems to me that the most fruitful critical thought is that which situates itself at the confluence of these two traditions and thus weds epistemological and social critique by questioning, in a continuous, active, and radical manner, both established forms of thought and established forms of collective life – “common sense” or doxa (including the doxa of the critical tradition) along with the social and political relations that obtain at a particular moment in a particular society.

Read on.


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