Negations: Essays in Critical Theory

Negations: Essays in Critical Theory

Language: English

Pages: 246

ISBN: 1906948046

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Herbert Marcuse's Negations is both a radical critique of capitalist modernity and a model of materialist dialectical thinking. In a series of essays, originally written in the period stretching from the 1930s to 1960s, Marcuse takes up the presupposed categories that have, and continue to, ground thought and action in our administered society: liberalism, industrialism, individualism, hedonism, aggression. This book is both a testament to a great thinker and a still vital strand of thought in the comprehension and critique of the modern organized world. It is essential reading for younger scholars and a radical reminder for those steeped in the tradition of a critical theory of society. With a brilliance of conception combined with an insistence on the material conditions of thought and action, this book speaks both to the particular contents engaged and to the fundamental grounds of any critique of organized modernity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

conservative over the revolutionary, the rejection of all dialectic, the glorification of tradition for its own sake.39 Never has history been taken less seriously than now, when it is primarily adjusted to the preservation and service of a national heritage, when revolutions are held to be ‘background noise’ or ‘disturbances’ of natural laws, and when the determination of human happiness and dignity is delivered over to natural forces of ‘blood’ and ‘soil’. In this dehistoricization of the

of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this spiritual demand appears as an unfulfilled promise. The idea of ‘natural development’ remains, but it signifies primarily inner development. In the external world the soul cannot freely ‘live itself out’. The organization of this world by the capitalist labor process has turned the development of the individual into economic competition and left the satisfaction of his needs to the commodity market. Affirmative culture uses the soul as a protest

enjoyment. From the discrepancy between what exist as objects of possible enjoyment and the way in which these objects are understood, taken, and used arises the question of the truth of the condition of happiness in this society. Acts intending enjoyment do not achieve the fulfillment of their own intention; even when they fulfill themselves, they remain untrue. Enjoyment is an attitude or mode of conduct toward things and human beings. The former, unless they have been made generally available

enjoyment. From the discrepancy between what exist as objects of possible enjoyment and the way in which these objects are understood, taken, and used arises the question of the truth of the condition of happiness in this society. Acts intending enjoyment do not achieve the fulfillment of their own intention; even when they fulfill themselves, they remain untrue. Enjoyment is an attitude or mode of conduct toward things and human beings. The former, unless they have been made generally available

politics we have to believe the myth, to believe what we were told as children. Roman history is the story of the brothers Romulus and Remus, the sons of the she-wolf; leaders of gangs of juvenile delinquents …; who achieved the rape of the Sabine women; and whose festival is the Lupercalia; at which youth naked except for girdles made from the skin of victims ran wild through the city; … a season fit for killing. Julius Caesar, Act I (p. 15). And Brown continues, summing up the initial

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