Herbert Marcuse: An Aesthetics of Liberation
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German philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist. Marcuse in in Newton, Massachusetts . Berlin , German Empire. Starnberg , West Germany. Eros and Civilization One-Dimensional Man Sophie Wertheim m. Inge Neumann m. Erica Sherover m. Continental philosophy Frankfurt School critical theory Western Marxism. Social theory communism socialism industrialism technology. Technological rationality great refusal  one-dimensional man work as free play repressive tolerance repressive desublimation negative thinking totalitarian democracy.
Immanuel Kant G. Norman O. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Political concepts. Philosophies and tendencies. Significant events.
Related topics. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.
Retrieved Oxford University Press. Retrieved October 1, Westview Press. Key Contemporary Social Theorists. Blackwell Publishers. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Reality: Angela Davis tells why black people should not be deceived by words". Chicago : Johnson Publishing Company. Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent. Blackwell Publishing. In Heideggerian Marxism. John Abromeit and Richard Wolin. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, Marcuse, Herbert.
Social relationships oriented toward the non-commercial fulfillment of human needs are thus simply abandoned or they are coerced into inverted and exploitable social phenomena, subject to capitalism's conventions of commodity exchange. Alienation occurs because genuinely social attitudes and interests in people and toward people get driven out by business relationships.
Exchange in the capitalist market is thought to evoke: ". The essential activity of labor, involuntarily transformed into work for wages under capitalist conditions, is restricted and distorted into an item for sale, barter, or exchange. For Marx, production goods become inappropriately de-materialized and idealized when they are elevated through a system of exchange transactions into objects of worship because they bring the blessings of accumulation to the owners of capital, above and beyond the good's worth in terms of societal use value.
Art and Liberation
Obviously, Marx wants to overcome this fetish or idolization and restore the "human dimension" to the reified, structured social practices and ideologies that serve to replicate the social order and heighten the accumulation of capital. To do this a de-mystifying philosophical and social analysis is required, not aesthetic reminiscence. Marx certainly did not dispute the objective character of social relationships and their reality independent of the perceiving subject in this critique of the commodity fetish.
Rather he criticized the ultimate rationale and justice of those specific sets of objective economic, social, and cultural interactions, which, as structured sets of human relations, were maintained in order to pursue profit under capitalism. Marx protested not against any general philosophical treatment of human beings as things, but rather against the reduction of humanity to a certain kind of thing, namely a commodity, whose social function is disclosed only through a dialectical and materialist philosophy. Likewise, there was for Marx no question that social relationships are always dynamic, material, and objective: his point was that these need not continue forever to reproduce the commodity form.
Marcuse, however, criticizes the objectivity of economic relations rather than their subjugation to the commodity form. Marcuse's version of critical theory rejects a reification or fetishism of objectivity, science, facts and things, in a manner far beyond Marx's discussion in Capital of the fetishism of commodities. Marcuse has largely deflected the philosophical focus from Marx's original target, i. The treatment of reification as Verdinglichung is the pivotal theoretical revision Marcuse utilizes to recast the formerly scientific in the Hegelian and Marxist sense connection of Reason to Revolution, and to subjectify it.
Where Hegel and Marx emphasize the role of science, dialectically conceived, Marcuse increasingly looks to an ontology of art located in the subjective but universally human condition. The Frankfurt School substituted this ontological aesthetic, developed upon the basis of classical German idealism following Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dilthey, and Heidegger, for the progress-oriented philosophy of history of Hegel and Marx, and called it critical theory.
In accordance with a prominent motif in this tradition, Marcuse holds that education through art provides the best impetus to philosophical and political education and to the re-humanization of philosophy itself. As ingenious and thought-provoking as this theory is, it nonetheless illegitimately reduces social and educational philosophy to aesthetic philosophy.
Marcuse's theory of art-against-alienation converts abruptly into a theory of art-as-alienation. Thus it oscillates in a fashion that can furnish no ground for the supersession of alienation. He postpones an end to the alienation of the artist and intellectual "until the millennium which will never be" CR, The very permanence of this alienation makes his account anti-dialectical in the Hegelian and Marxist sense. Two paradigms for theories of art and alienation emerge from my discussion, each with distinctive criteria for critical insight. That is, in terms of the internal turmoil and distress supposedly inherent in the depth dimension of the human condition with Eros and Thanatos as the core sensual forces.
This conflict is theorized as revealed, enclosed, and preserved by the aesthetic form, and its truth is untethered to societal and historical particulars. The limits of such a position are noted by feminist literary critic, Aeron Haynie, who has written, ". In my view, the historical materialist paradigm gains greater explanatory power and retains a malleability and freedom from apriori categorization because it remains externally referential.
Because it continually implicates art and knowledge in a structural and historical analysis of social life, it possesses a capacity to construct and engage that context. In conclusion, I want to ask by what criteria can we measure the advance of educational philosophy? Hegel's classic treatment in the Phenomenology of the consciousness of those who serve and the consciousness of those who are served discloses something of immense importance here for critical pedagogy. For Hegel, only the oppressed have the power to recognize the dialectic of interdependence that binds the "autonomous" subjectivity of the master to the subjugated condition of the servant.
A serving consciousness becomes aware, through labor, that those served are dependent on it and that the master is not absolutely independent or free. The liberation of consciousness for both the master and servant requires this socialization, not subjectivization, of consciousness. Through struggle, Hegel indicates that the polarities of master and servant may be obviated and canceled, liberated and restructured, with an emergent awareness of self not as individual but as zoon politikon. This is the dis-alienating educational process that emancipates, empowers, and humanizes.
What have been called the civilizing forces of our age, the organized popular struggles against racism, sexism, poverty, war, and imperialism, have educated this nation about oppression, power, and empowerment. The professoriate, as such, certainly did not lead in this educational effort, although many individual college teachers played important roles. Part of the dilemma of education today requires the transformation of the frayed academic credo of liberation through the arts into a more philosophically advanced form of educational theory.
Human intelligence is emergent from material, historical, and cultural aesthetic and ethical sources. At the center of this inherently political process is debate and struggle around the key problems of labor, oppression, and democracy. Yet critical theory often equates praxis with philosophical and literary criticism and the development of an aesthetic taste for cosmic ironies. Operating fully with in the conventional division of mental from physical labor and the relations of power which these divisions represent in monopoly capitalist society, critical theory is largely divested of a dimension of defiance and the power of transformation.
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I would like to rephrase the Nietzschean epigram at the top of this essay, in terms of the Hegelian insights discussed above. If the truth is ugly, we have political education and revolutionary praxis that we may not perish of the truth. Alienated labor's political self-education to critical consciousness and collective moral action humanizes and sustains our lives. Dialectic must be liberated from a restriction solely to the aesthetic form.
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If this were so, why did he poach deer? Herbert Marcuse. Beacon Press, Boston, Reviewed by Berel Lang" Even in his writing that addressed other themes, Marcuse did not deny the importance of the arts; but in this his last book published before his death in August, , one finds him for the first time making the arts central to his continuing analysis of political and social structures. This step has both personal and conceptual significance in the development of Marcuse's thought. On the personal side, he alludes to the 'element of despair inherent in this concern': One need not be unsympathetic to his earlier call for social change in his role, for example, as patron of the near-revolution in France in to recognize that a turn towards the arts for their 'transcendence' Marcuse's term also suggests a turn away from the radical praxis of political action that occupied him in such works as One-Dimensional Man and An Essay on Liberation.
Herbert Marcuse - Wikipedia
To be sure, he claims that privatization and an emphasis on subjectivity, as those are often seen as conditions of aesthetic experience, have been basic elements in Marxist thinking, with 'the freedom and happiness of the individual' p. But even if this were so and many readers of Marx would object to this interpretation , the fact remains that Marcuse, in speaking of a nonpolitical end that either replaces or simply takes for granted the complexities of political action, might well be charged with a failure of nerve.
Whether this charge is well-founded or not, his last book must be addressed on its own terms-not so much in its specific conclusions which are not, in any event, specific enough but in its formulation of a number of issues that have been both persistent and recalcitrant in Marxist thinking.
One of these I have already mentioned, namely, the question of what the quality of human experience will be once the expectations of radical political change have been fulfilled. Marx himself said little about this question, and later writers for example, Lenin in The State and Revolution focused almost exclusively on the material differences that the revolution would bring about-in the way people would live, not in their lives as experienced.