Critique and Disclosure

From Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought

Critique and Disclosure

Critical Theory between Past and Future

By Nikolas Kompridis

A provocatively argued call for shifting the emphasis of critical theory from Habermasian "critique," restricted to normative clarification, to "disclosure," a possibility-enhancing approach that draws on and reinterprets ideas of Heidegger.





A provocatively argued call for shifting the emphasis of critical theory from Habermasian "critique," restricted to normative clarification, to "disclosure," a possibility-enhancing approach that draws on and reinterprets ideas of Heidegger.

In Critique and Disclosure, Nikolas Kompridis argues provocatively for a richer and more time-responsive critical theory. He calls for a shift in the normative and critical emphasis of critical theory from the narrow concern with rules and procedures of Jürgen Habermas's model to a change-enabling disclosure of possibility and the enlargement of meaning. Kompridis contrasts two visions of critical theory's role and purpose in the world: one that restricts itself to the normative clarification of the procedures by which moral and political questions should be settled and an alternative rendering that conceives of itself as a possibility-disclosing practice. At the center of this resituation of critical theory is a normatively reformulated interpretation of Martin Heidegger's idea of "disclosure" or "world disclosure." In this regard Kompridis reconnects critical theory to its normative and conceptual sources in the German philosophical tradition and sets it within a romantic tradition of philosophical critique. Drawing not only on his sustained critical engagement with the thought of Habermas and Heidegger but also on the work of other philosophers including Wittgenstein, Cavell, Gadamer, and Benjamin, Kompridis argues that critical theory must, in light of modernity's time-consciousness, understand itself as fully situated in its time—in an ever-shifting and open-ended horizon of possibilities, to which it must respond by disclosing alternative ways of thinking and acting. His innovative and original argument will serve to move the debate over the future of critical studies forward—beyond simple antinomies to a consideration of, as he puts it, "what critical theory should be if it is to have a future worthy of its past."


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262112994 354 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262516532 354 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • This is an important and timely (or time-sensitive) book, both in philosophical and in practical-political terms.

    Fred Dallmayr

    Notre Dame Philosophical Review

  • This is a book that needed to be written. Habermas's critique of disclosure was at times narrow and shortsighted. But as Habermas is now rethinking some of these shortcomings, Kompridis gives him—and indeed all critical theorists—ample resources for a stronger integration of disclosive with formal and procedurally guided forms of thought.

    James Swindal

    International Journal of Philosophical Studies

  • With Critique and Disclosure, Nikolas Kompridis makes an impressive intervention in the self-definition of Critical Theory […this book] will become a necessary reading for all those invested in the reinvigoration or, possibly, transformation of this tradition.

    Patrick Gamez

    Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy


  • This is an erudite and original attempt to renew and reorient the critical theory tradition around its original promise: of thinking against the reigning legitimations of oppression and inequality in the present and of disclosing concrete possibilities of thinking and acting differently in the future. For anyone who is uncomfortable with critical theory's current direction and concerned about its future, this superb and hopeful reflection is essential.

    James Tully

    Distinguished Professor, University of Victoria, Canada

  • This is a bold and innovative book that attempts to set out an agenda for critical theory that reaches beyond Habermas. Kompridis argues for a richer, comprehensive vision of critical theory, seeing Habermas as having abridged its philosophical concerns and its relation to the tradition of German philosophy. The Heideggerian alternative presented here is quite compelling and will help initiate an important critical discussion.

    James Bohman

    Danforth Professor of Philosophy, St. Louis University

  • This is a remarkably careful and exceedingly insightful attempt to show that the path to a renewal of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School must pass through a rereading of Heidegger on the issue of 'world disclosure.' Kompridis is not the first to make such an attempt, but he is the most persuasive. This is a real philosophical achievement.

    Stephen K. White

    James Hart Professor, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

  • Jürgen Habermas has spent his career repudiating Heidegger's notion of world disclosure. The consequence has been an emaciated conception of reason and a hobbled conception of critique. Kompridis argues, powerfully and persuasively, that a refinement of disclosure, what he calls 'reflective disclosure,' is what critical theory most needs if it is to become responsive to the crises of late modernity. His generous reading enables us to comprehend how acts of world disclosure are not the 'other' of reason, but belong within an expanded conception of the powers of reason. A welcome addition to the literature on Habermas and critical theory.

    J.M. Bernstein

    New School for Social Research