Critical Naturalism: A Manifesto


  • Federica Gregoratto St. Gallen University
  • Heikki Ikäheimo University of New South Wales
  • Emmanuel Renault University of Paris-Nanterre
  • Arvi Särkelä University of Lucerne
  • Italo Testa University of Parma



Nature , Society, Critique, Crisis, Future


The Critical Naturalism Manifesto is a common platform put forward as a basis for broad discussions around the problems faced by critical theory today. We are living in a time, e.g. a pandemic time, when present-day challenges exert immense pressure on social critique. This means that models of social critique should not be discussed from the point of view of their normative justification or political effects alone, but also with reference to their ability to tackle contemporary problematic issues (like the dismantlement of the welfare state, the environmental catastrophe, and the sanitary crisis). With this manifesto, we invite varying practices of philosophical, artistic and scientific social critique to take seriously the enormous challenges our societies face with regard to inner and outer nature.

We first identity eleven theses of critical naturalism which contemporary critical theory should take into consideration. We then identify the historical crises and catastrophes that critical naturalism seeks to respond to, dispelling the prejudices against naturalism in contemporary critical thought, and considering alternative answers to these questions such as social constructivism, accelerationism, xenofeminism, flat ontologism, and monist world ecology. By sketching the notions of nature and naturalism, we anchor critical naturalism in the history of materialism and critical theory, understood initially as that of the Frankfurt School, but expanded and enriched by other approaches to social critique. Finally, we sketch models and projects of critical naturalism, which are exemplary fragments of varying ways to practice naturalist social critique.  

Author Biographies

Federica Gregoratto, St. Gallen University

Federica Gregoratto is habilitated lecturer (Privatdozentin) in social and political philosophy at the University of St Gallen. She has published in English, German, French and Italian on a variety of topics in social and political philosophy, such as the philosophy of love and sex, critical theory (including the monograph on Habermas:  Il doppio volto della comunicazione, Mimesis, 2013), pragmatism, recognition and power theories, debt-guilt debates, gender and intersectionalist studies. She is now working on a book about erotic love as a social space of power, freedom and transformation.

Heikki Ikäheimo, University of New South Wales

Heikki Ikäheimo is Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. His research areas include Hegel, German idealism, theories of recognition, intersubjectivity, subjectivity, personhood, the human life-form, critical social philosophy. He published the monograph Anerkennung  (De Gruyter 2014), the edited collections Recognition and Social Ontology (Brill 2011) and Recognition and Ambivalence  (Columbia University Press 2021), as well as Handbuch (Springer 2021). His next monograph Recognition and the Human Life-form is forthcoming by Routledge in 2022.

Emmanuel Renault, University of Paris-Nanterre

Emmanuel Renault is professor of philosophy at University of Paris-Nanterre. His research interests include Hegel, Marx, The Frankfurt School, Pragmatism, philosophy of nature, the theory of recognition and of work. His books in English include: The Experience of Injustice (Columbia University Press, 2019),  Marx and Critical Theory (Brill, 2018), Social Suffering: Sociology, Psychology, Politics (2017) and The Return of Work in Critical Theory: Self, Society, Politics (Columbia, 2018, with C. Dejours, J.-P. Deranty and N. Smith).

Arvi Särkelä, University of Lucerne

Arvi Särkelä is Lecturer at the University of Lucerne and Postdoctoral Researcher at ETH Zürich. His research interest include Spinoza, Hegel, Emerson, Nietzsche, Dewey, Wittgenstein, Adorno, social philosophy, philosophy of culture and methodology of the history of philosophy. He has published the monograph Immanente Kritik und soziales Leben (Klostermann 2018), co-edited (with Axel Honneth) the German Edition of Dewey's Lectures in China (Sozialphilosophie, Suhrkamp 2019) and co-edited (with Martin Hartmann) the volume Naturalism and Social Philosophy (Rowman & Littlefield 2022).

Italo Testa, University of Parma

Italo Testa is Associate Professor at the University of Parma. His research interests include German Classical Philosophy, Critical Theory, Pragmatism, Embodied Cognition, Social Ontology, theoris of recognition, habit, and second nature. Among his books: La natura del riconoscimento (Mimesis, 2010), and the edited collections I that is We, and We that is I (Brill, 2016), Habits. Pragmatist Approaches from Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and Social Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2021).



How to Cite

Gregoratto, Federica, Heikki Ikäheimo, Emmanuel Renault, Arvi Särkelä, and Italo Testa. 2022. “Critical Naturalism: A Manifesto”. Krisis | Journal for Contemporary Philosophy 42 (1):108-24.