In "Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Toward a Politic of Radical Engagement," author Stephen Eric Bronner emphasizes the connection between the Enlightenment ideas and contemporary society and the need for modification in the way of presenting the Enlightenment ideas. He presents this argument through the critique of the book Dialectic of Enlightenment written by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. By inserting his arguments into the critiques, Bronner points out the urgent need to reify the metaphysical concepts under a contemporary social context. .
First of all, as Bronner states in the preface, the Enlightenment still retains overarching importance in the twenty- first century. Although twenty- first century development regarding capitalism, consumerism, and bureaucracy has threatened Enlightenment ideals of "cosmopolitan intolerance, economic justice and democratic accountability," they still hold a crucial position in the development of modern politics (Bronner x). Bronner inserts that a simple social movement or social group can no longer capitulate the constantly changing world. Thus, the concern has shifted from finding the unifying "world spirit" to building the solidarity between organizations. Under this concern, the Enlightenment gained its new importance, as Bronner argues, that is to provide "the ideological willingness to embrace the assumptions" in order to achieve solidarity.
To better understand the effect of Enlightenment ideas on contemporary society, Bronner contends that it is necessary to break down the metaphysical idea and view it from both ideological and political aspects. One metaphysical characteristic of Enlightenment universalism is, as Bronner points out, self-critical quality, which gives the Enlightenment the objectivity to not blindly defend tradition but to make justifiable assault on "privilege and prejudice" (Bronner xii).