Horkheimer, Max (hôrkˈhĪˌmər, hôrˈkĪˌ–) [key], 1895–1973, German philosopher and sociologist. As director (1930–58) of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, he played an important role in the development of critical theory and Western Marxism. In Eclipse of Reason (1947) and Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947, written with Theodor Adorno), he developed a critique of scientific positivism, whose "instrumental rationality" had become a form of domination in both capitalist and socialist countries. Against an older, deterministic Marxism, he argued that culture and consciousness are partly independent of economics, and his ideas about liberation and consumer society continue to influence contemporary empirical sociologists.
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