In his recent book, Cultural Software, Jack Balkin offers a new approach to ideology and critical theory in an effort to overcome the deficiencies he finds in Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutical account. This Article demonstrates that the productive aspects of Balkin's theory are central to Gadamer's philosophy, and the unproductive elements in Balkin's theory are best explained by his deviation from Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics. Mootz rejects Balkin's transcendental argument in favor of Gadamer's insistence that critique is a feature of hermeneutical experience and that critical theory is the practice of maximizing the critical distance that occurs only within hermeneutical engagements. Relying on a model derived from rhetorical exchange and psychotherapeutic practice, Mootz concludes that critique is always a social experience and that critical theory is the practice of reflecting on how best to facilitate this social experience.

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