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Title: Walter Benjamin's contribution to critical theory : the problem of voluntary servitude
Author: Ogden, Blair
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is an assessment of Walter Benjamin's contribution to critical theory. I will argue that the animating problem behind his vision of critical theory is the question of voluntary servitude: why do the many willingly accept the rule of the few when it is against their interests to do so? I will argue that Benjamin extends our understanding of this quandary in three different respects. This thesis begins by considering Benjamin's account of what human freedom is, paying careful attention to his account of which cognitive faculties give rise to it, and what internal and external factors frustrate its realization. The central sect ion of this thesis analyses Benjamin's account of domination, which purports to offer a novel perspective on the ideological reasons why people relinquish their freedom en masse. The final section of this thesis examines Benjamin's account of liberation, giving particular attention to the strategies that he advocates to bring about this desideratum and the reasons why he considers emancipation to be morally necessary. On the one hand this thesis stands as a contribution to the hi story of Post-Kantian philosophy insofar as it provides the first systematic assessment of Benjamin's contribution to the Frankfurt School. On the other hand this thesis outlines a novel solution to a persistent problem in political philosophy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available