The concept of progress occupies a complicated position in the landscape of contemporary critical theory. While it has been thoroughly debunked and discredited by post- and de-colonial theorists who have uncovered its links to ideologies of colonialism and imperialism, it has also vigorously defended by several prominent contemporary members of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. What accounts for these divergent trajectories of critical theory? And (how) can they be reconciled? In this lecture, I will discuss these divergent trajectories and will attempt a reconciliation of sorts by drawing inspiration from Adorno's dictum that progress occurs where it ends.
Amy Allen is Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University.