This page features a collection of the best resources on critical theory. To get started, simply choose the type of resource that best suits your learning style.
If you want a comprehensive overview of critical theory:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Critical Theory. However, you should keep in mind that the Stanford Encyclopedia in often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 20,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces critical theory:
“Critical Theory has a narrow and a broad meaning in philosophy and in the history of the social sciences. “Critical Theory” in the narrow sense designates several generations of German philosophers and social theorists in the Western European Marxist tradition known as the Frankfurt School. According to these theorists, a “critical” theory may be distinguished from a “traditional” theory according to a specific practical purpose: a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human “emancipation from slavery”, acts as a “liberating … influence”, and works “to create a world which satisfies the needs and powers” of human beings…”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
- Read Stuart Walton’s article: How the Frankfurt School Diagnosed the Ills of Western Civilization [4000 words]
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
- Listen to Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Frankfurt School on the In Our Time podcast [45:00 mins]
While these resources are a great starting point, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the Best Books on Critical Theory
The Daily Idea collects and organizes the best philosophy resources from across the internet to help make learning about philosophy as easy as possible. You can find an organized collection of introductory readings and free philosophy resources here. Or get started below by signing up for a free philosophy quote delivered to your inbox each day!