1st Edition

Critical Theory and Economics Philosophical Notes on Contemporary Inequality

By Robin Maialeh Copyright 2023
    156 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book expands upon a range of economic insights within the overall context of critical theory, particularly with respect to the question of socioeconomic inequalities, and presents an explanation of how critical theory provides a number of interesting perspectives for economists.

    Economic agents, deliberately imprisoned in their instrumental rationality as a means to survive under competitive relationships, are microscopic constituents of systemic forces which exist beyond their will. Despite the subjective rationality of such agents in terms of formally logical transitivity and consistency, aggregate market distributional mechanisms also display non-rational patterns. The crucial aspect of the dynamics of this system consists of the paralysing effect of the high level of socioeconomic inequality, which is driven by a permanent struggle for self-preservation under competitive rules; it is a reminiscence of natural, uncivilised relationships that constituted the reproduction process of the whole. These reified agents thus become instruments of their socially constructed powers on the one hand, and objects of their existential conditionality on the other. Hence, the dialectical approach adopted by the author aims to uncover the way in which structurally genetic market forces govern individual behaviour, as well as how individual behaviour shapes these structurally genetic forces, which, together, form the transcending principles of unequal distribution.

    This book will be of particular interest to scholars of the political economy, philosophy and the methodology of the social sciences, especially those concerned with inequality issues. This book includes a preface written by Professor Martin Jay.



    1. Prolegomena to Critical Theory

    1.1 The History of Critical Theory

    1.2 Critical and Traditional Theory

    1.3 Critical Theory and Economics

    2. Prolegomena to Economic Theory

    2.1 Foundations of Contemporary Economics

    2.3 The impotence of the Behavioural "Critique"

    3. Dialectical-Critical Reflection

    3.1 A critique of Positivism: From Metaphysical Ontologism to Mathematical Formalism

    3.2 Dialectics as a Reaction to Positivism

    3.3 Dialectical Totality and the Pseudoconcrete

    4. Subject and Reason

    4.1 Instrumental Reason and Contemporary Economics

    4.2 Rational Attitude Towards Self-Preservation

    4.3 Metamorphosis of the Subject and Its Objectification

    5. Immanence and the Transcendence of Contemporary Inequality

    5.1 On the Worthiness of de-Ontologised Positivism

    5.2 Heteronomous Agents and the Transcendence of the Market Economy

    5.3 The Immanence of Unequal Distribution




    Robin Maialeh, Director of Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs, Prague, Czech Republic.