HISTORY AND CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS importance of this problem for economics itself. Nor shall we consider its implications for the economic doctrines of. History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics is a book by the .. Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. This is the first time one of the most important of Lukács' early theoretical writings, published in Germany in , has been made available in English. The book.
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Source: History & Class Consciousness; Translator: Rodney Livingstone; Publisher: Merlin Press, ; Transcription and HTML Mark-up: Andy Blunden. tance of class consciousness in determining the outcome of revolutionary Reprinted from History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics by. File:Lukacs Georg History and Class Consciousness Studies in Marxist Dialectics .pdf .pdf (file size: MB, MIME type: application/pdf).
These have never been translated before, but need to be considered in any attempt to understand Tendai and Nichirenite Buddhism, including the modern sects and movements. It is to be hoped that the Rissho Kosei Kai will continue to encourage such labours. Rodney Livingstone. Merlin Press, London, , pp. Lukacs's Geschichte and Klassenbewusstein is a classic text in the development of modern Marxism, one of the very few important attempts to found a Marxist epitemology and ontology, and a work influential -directly or indirectly-on figures as diverse as Heidegger, Mannheim, Marcuse and Moltmann.
After the subsequent Soviet invasion, he was arrested and imprisoned in Romania. In contrast to other members of the government, he was not executed but merely expelled from the communist party, which he only rejoined in He also continued to publish extensively on literature and art. This is most explicitly discussed in his two attempts at a systematic philosophy of art.
Second, there is the sociological-historical question about the relation between individual and collective life and the aesthetic and ethical forms in modern bourgeois society. This topic is dominant both in the History of the Modern Drama of and in the Theory of the Novel of Both individual and social life is in principle capable of forming an integrated totality. However, this is only the case if the essential properties of its elements are intelligible in terms of their relations to other particulars of life.
Only in this case, life can have a meaningful form which is not a mere restriction. This immanence of meaning and the totality it constituted was, however, lost in the subsequent historical development, transforming form into an external factor to life.
In regard to the relation between form and life, we can distinguish between forms that are forms of life itself, produced by that life, and abstract forms which are imposed onto life from the outside. When a form is imposed on life that is not a form of that specific mode of life or if the form in question cannot be realized in empirical life , such an imposition always runs the risk of distorting the meanings of the particular actions or persons.
But at the same time, form is necessary for life to become intelligible and unified see Bernstein 77— Within the sphere of individual agency, persons face this dilemma in regard to the choice of either authentically expressing the particular meanings of their own life, risking the loss of form and, consequently, the loss of intelligible access to these meanings, or of imposing an external form as a normative demand on their life, risking distortion, inauthenticity and even the denial of life itself.
Essayistic writing, however, is not only writing about form; it also must always examine the conditions under which life can be given a form in the first place. This problem becomes virulent in modernity where the form of life is no longer something unproblematically present. Rather, the existing ways in which life could give itself a form have become problematic and are experienced as abstractions.
In both cases, art turns against life. Instead, such an attempt must endorse a form of life that cannot be incorporated into ordinary life. But due to its inherent ambiguity and foreignness to form, ordinary life cannot ever be successfully lived in such a way c: The conclusion of this line of thought seems to point towards an insoluble dilemma. This framework is most clearly visible in his two systematic attempts to produce a philosophy of art in Heidelberg GW 16 and However, the inevitable desire to communicate meaning drives people to adopt different means of communication that, even though inadequate for expressing the reality of experience, enable persons to overcome their separateness by relating to each other in terms of other spheres of reality for example, the sphere of logical validity.
Thus, the contrast between everyday life and art is not one between experience and validity but between the heterogeneity of everyday life and the homogeneous form appropriate to the autonomy of experience GW Consequently, in comparison to the logical and ethical spheres of validity, aesthetics has a distinct status. While in these other spheres of validity, objective norms and subjective attitudes are fully separable, the autonomy of experience legislates a normative standard that involves a specific relationship between subjective experience and objective norm.
Even though these activities are not constitutive for the value of works of art, they can still serve as a basis for reconstructing the independent normative status of the aesthetics.
The result of this analysis is a conception of the work of art as an ideal of homogeneous unity of form and material. In contrast, in the Aesthetics, it is brought about through a process in which the constitutive function of experience becomes completely autonomous, determining both form and content. Such an ideal work of art is, in virtue of this harmony, a Utopian fulfillment of the attitudes that are already operative in the ordinary world of experience GW This finally answers the question regarding the a priori conditions of art: as an ideal of a particular kind of possible experience, the work of art is always historically specific.
However, both the potentiality to become a totality in virtue of their form and the normative demand to do so are timeless, a priori conditions of the possibility of works of art in the Neo-Kantian sense GW He argues that drama is connected to specific historic circumstances: for drama to exist, there needs to be a prevailing Weltanschauung GW 44 that seeks drama as its preferred mode of expression.
This tragic Weltanschauung only exists in periods of societal disintegration where individual emotions and objective facts are in a relation of mismatch so intense that they elicit heroic forms of the denial of social reality. In each society, the ruling class legitimizes its own dominance with reference to certain valuations Wertungen. However, if that class then begins to experience these very same valuations as problematic or sterile, this signifies the beginning of its downfall GW In such situations, the formal element of drama and tragedy, which involves the paradoxical relation between highly universalized form and highly individualized content, mirrors the paradoxical relation between form and life that individuals experience in their own relation to society.
Epic poetry in Homeric times takes its starting point from a world which constituted a closed totality 33 , that is, a world in which life, culture, meaning, action and social institutions formed a harmonious whole.
Furthermore, there was no gap between individual consciousness and objectified meaning in the world that would have required the individual to project meaning onto the world. Individuals in ancient Greece only had to accept the totality of meaning within their world, even if they were, in some particular situation or another, unable to understand it. In contrast, modern society is constitutively alienated: merely conventional social institutions devoid of meaning exist disconnected from individuals and their highly individualized self-understanding.
Therefore, in modern society meaning can only be found within the inner life of the individual and cannot become recognized in the world In the course of this movement, the sources of meaning became increasingly more external to immediate life. Tragedy and philosophy have already realized the loss of a meaningful totality, whereas the possibility of epic poetry depends on its immanence.
The novel is always relating to the development of such individuals. This development can take the shape of a subjective-idealist illusion e. In modernity, epic writing has no longer any distinct form that could express any particular relation between life and essence within a totality. Rather, the form of the novel is an attempt to deal with the absence of this relation 59; see Jameson The form which commodities acquire due to this fetishism i.
This process has both an objective and a subjective dimension: objectively, the qualitative homogeneity and continuity of human work is destroyed when industrial work processes become rationalized in a way that is appropriate to understanding them as commodity exchanges. It is a process which affects four dimensions of social relations: the socially created features of objects primarily their features as commodities , the relations between persons, their relations to themselves and, finally, the relations between individuals and society as a whole Stahl These properties become independent, quantifiable, non-relational features that must remain alien to any subjective meaning that one could attach to them.
Additionally, by losing grip of the qualitative dimensions of their social relations, people become atomized and isolated. The core of this argument is the claim that the dominance of the commodity form in the economic sphere must necessarily lead to the dominance of rational calculation and formal reason in society as a whole.
Because a break with the organic unity and totality of human existence is a necessary precondition for this development, the commodity form must, over time, subject all social spheres to its rule. This development leads into a contradictory situation both on the practical and the theoretical level: because the process of rationalization precludes the grasp of any kind of totality, it cannot ever succeed in making the whole of society subject to rational calculation for it necessarily must exclude all irrational, qualitative dimensions from such calculation.
The same holds true for a formalist model of law, which cannot theoretically acknowledge the interdependence of its principles with their social content and therefore must treat this content as an extra-legal, irrational foundation a: — This dualism between subject and object—and in ethics, between norms and facts—haunts modern philosophy.
As Fichte and Hegel recognize, this problem arises only because modern thought takes the contemplative subject of reified self-world relations as its paradigm, ignoring the alternative of an active subject that is engaged in the production of the content. However, the conceptualization of practice from the standpoint of aesthetics obscures its historical dimension. Initially, both the proletariat and the bourgeoisie face the same immediate reality of an alienated world.
Bourgeois thought, however, endorses this facticity and sees every possible normative stance only as a subjective projection onto a world of immediate facts. In contrast, the proletariat is unable to remain within bourgeois ideology. In capitalism, the activity of workers is reduced to a completely quantifiable process. But, at the same time, workers cannot have any immediate self-consciousness of their work other than of a qualitatively determined activity. However, the process of the proletariat becoming self-conscious does not only describe a theoretical insight.
By realizing that it is the subject-object of history, the proletariat discovers itself to be the subject of the process of social reproduction see a: ; Jay f , not an object of contemplation. The proletarian situation does not necessarily entail an immediate consciousness of the totality.
This consciousness remains only an objective possibility, always threatened by the seductions of the immediate consciousness. This makes the agency of the communist party a necessary condition for the revolution.
This ontology of pure processuality finally entails a normative conception of society that is critical towards all forms of institutional rationalization which are rejected as forms of alienation across the board. The party orthodoxy, however, was not quite so enamored.
In Germany and Hungary, party intellectuals such as Hermann Duncker and Laszlo Rudas disapproved of the book because of its idealist tendencies, culminating in its condemnation by Grigory Zinoviev in his opening address to the June World Congress of the Third International Arato and Breines This conception imports moments that are alien to a Marxist view of history into his theory even on a non-orthodox reading of Marx.
He admits, however, that the notion of totality as the product of a collective subject, as he developed it in , needed to be modified in order to remedy these problems.
Instead, he tackled the philosophical foundations of these problems in the context of a new reading of the philosophical tradition, and especially of Hegel. His writings on Hegel, most prominently The Young Hegel and the relevant sections in the Ontology of Social Being, can be read as a defense of this commitment. Hegel, however, subordinates this objectivist ontology to logic in the course of the development of his system.
Hegel sees externalization that is, the fact that the objects of our labor and the institutions of society are independent of our consciousness not as a deficiency, but rather as a necessary stage in the development of self-consciousness.
On this view, the externalization of the social is not problematic in itself. Rather, it is alienation the causes of which Marx uncovered that should be the object of the critique of reification see also Pitkin This distinction entails the possibility of a critique of reification that does not require a complete reappropriation of objective social forms by a collective subject. This ontology is intended, at least outwardly, to be a faithful interpretation of the ontological implications of Marxism.
All three levels are distinguished by a division between the genuine essence of entities and their appearance. While on all three levels, entities appear as fixed objects, their real essence is always that of interrelated, irreversible processes GW This entails that the basic form of all being is temporality and historicity GW By choosing one of the potential results of the employment of their natural and technological capacities as the correct one, individuals can create a distinction between successful and unsuccessful execution of their intended actions in labor.
Consequently, over time, the social becomes more and more determined by its own history, rather than by nature alone b: From these ontological commitments, it follows that the existence of the social totality depends on the intentionality which guides individual acts of labor and vice versa see Tertullian Goldmann, who considered Heidegger's work partly as a polemic reply to my admittedly unnamed work, need not be discussed here.
It suffices today to say that the problem was in the air, particularly if we analyze its background in detail in order to clarify its effect, the mixture of Marxist and Existentialist thought processes, which prevailed especially in France immediately after the Second World War. In this connection priorities, influences, and so on are not particularly significant. What is important is that the alienation of man was recognized and appreciated as the central problem of the time in which we live, by bourgeois as well as proletarian, by politically rightist and leftist thinkers.
Thus, History and Class Consciousness exerted a profound effect in the circles of the youthful intelligentsia. George Lukacs's History and Class Consciousness is a truly extraordinary work, and its English translation, after almost fifty years of neglect by English and American publishers, is a major event The full quality of Lukacs's brilliance is most powerfully manifested in this 'youthful' work done when merely 38!
For all this, then, we owe homage to Georg Lukacs. Search Search.
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