Horkheimer, Max

(1895-1973)
   social theorist; chief organizer of the Frankfurt School s* intellectual life and proponent of its theoretical perspective, "critical theory. Born to a Jewish textile manufacturer in Stuttgart, he reluc-tantly entered the family business upon completing Gymnasium in 1910. Em-boldened by service during World War I, he quit the factory and during 1919-1925 studied philosophy. He completed his doctorate in 1922 and his Habili-tation in 1925 and was appointed Professor for Social Philosophy at Frankfurt in 1930.
   Horkheimer was drawn to Marxism as a student. With like-minded students— including Theodor Adorno,* Leo Loewenthal, and Felix Weil—he was espe-cially attracted to the thought of Georg Lukacs* and Karl Korsch.* In 1923, gaining support from Weil s father, he prompted the founding of the Institute for Social Research (i.e., the Frankfurt School, affiliated with the University of Frankfurt). The school's first director was Carl Grünberg, a Marxist professor. When illness forced Grtinberg's retirement in 1931, leadership passed to Hork-heimer, by then a university professor. Horkheimer energized the school, largely by founding the Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung. In addition to his own contri-butions, the Zeitschrift published the social psychology of Erich Fromm, Henryk Grossmann s ideas on Karl Marx, Loewenthal s sociology of literature, and Adorno s sociology of music*.
   Upon Hitler's* seizure of power, Horkheimer was fired, the Frankfurt School was seized, and the Zeitschrift ceased publication in the spring of 1933 (it later reappeared, first in Paris and then in New York). With several friends—most of whom were socialists and of Jewish ancestry—Horkheimer went first to Ge-neva and then in 1934 to New York. Affiliated with Columbia University, the school reopened and began stressing its "critical theory of society." The pres-sures of war and growing intellectual conflict eventually induced a schism. In 1949 Adorno and Horkheimer helped reestablish the old school in Frankfurt.
   Horkheimer's confidence that workers could regenerate society evaporated after 1945. Gradually believing that no viable political practice could lead to qualitative change, he became absorbed with the totalitarian threat to individu-alism.
   REFERENCES:Peter Gay, Weimar Culture; IESS; Jay, Dialectical Imagination; Wiggers-haus, Frankfurt School.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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