Migrants in the ProfaneCritical Theory and the Question of Secularization

Migrants in the ProfaneCritical Theory and the Question of Secularization

Peter E. Gordon

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780300250763

Publisher: Yale University Press

Abstract

Migrants in the Profane explores the concept of secularization in the thought of three key figures in the classical phase of critical theory, Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, and Theodor W. Adorno. Following Adorno’s dictum that theological concepts must undergo a “migration into the profane,” the book asks whether it is possible for secular modernity to draw instruction from the normative resources of religion without violating its own principle of modern independence. It pursues this question in three chapters, examining how each author proposed distinctive answers. Interlacing philosophical and historical criticism, the book also addresses the history of Frankfurt School critical theory in its early years. It concludes with broader reflections on the relationship between religion and secular society, and the challenge of ethno-religious pluralism in an era of migration.