Zambrano's poetic reason in the light of Frankfurtian Critical Theory

Caballero Rodríguez, Beatriz (2018) Zambrano's poetic reason in the light of Frankfurtian Critical Theory. History of European Ideas, 44 (7). pp. 887-898. ISSN 1873-541X (

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María Zambrano’s biggest contribution to intellectual history is, without a doubt, her poetic reason; her unique attempt to overcome the limiting coordinates of the framework of rationality established by the Enlightenment. Having spent forty-five years in exile, the relevance of this Republican thinker has only been acknowledged in recent decades. Since then, the political content of her early work, as well as her engagement with the Republic’s cause prior to and during the Spanish Civil War are well known. Nevertheless, although Zambrano still wrote some political books after the Civil War, most notably Persona y democracia (1958), the political component of her work after this period has passed largely unnoticed. In contrast with the existing publications analysing the political content of Zambrano’s work, which focus primarily on her thought up to 1939, this paper will take a wider approach to Zambrano’s political engagement by exploring the political significance of her poetic reason. Here I will contend, first, that poetic reason, far from being an isolated attempt at developing an alternative rationality, is actually in line with the critique of instrumental reason proposed by the Frankfurt School and, second, that ,in fact, there are meaningful parallels between poetic reason and Frankfurtian Critical Theory. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to explore such parallels and their significance in revealing the political dimension of Zambrano’s thought.