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Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 16, Issue 1, 2013
Critical Refusals, Part 1

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1. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Harry van der Linden A Note from the Editor
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2. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Arnold L. Farr, Douglas Kellner, Andrew T. Lamas, Charles Reitz Herbert Marcuse's Critical Refusals
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archives
3. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Jürgen Habermas, Charles Reitz Herbert Marcuse: Critical Educator for a New Generation--A Personal Reminiscence
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Reflecting on the development of social theory in postwar Germany, Habermas asked, Who better than Germany’s expelled Jewish scholars had something to teach the new nation’s young intellectuals about the dark elements of the all-too-near Nazi past? Habermas’s respect for Adorno, Horkheimer, Löwith, Popper, and others who returned is enormous. Still, he makes clear in this personal letter to Marcuse that it was Marcuse whom he found more exhilarating than any of the others. This he says was due to Marcuse’s critical Marxism, the links he forged between Marx and Freud, and his ability to connect Frankfurt theory to radical praxis against militarism and colonialism.
4. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Herbert Marcuse, Leo Löwenthal, Charles Reitz The Dialectics of Liberation and Radical Activism: An Exchange of Letters between Herbert Marcuse and Leo Löwenthal
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Warm regards are exchanged between old friends who are seriously bent on changing the world, not merely analyzing it. Mutual appreciation is evident, as is some tension. Herbert Marcuse’s militant critique of US war-making, waste-making, and poverty is taking Europe by storm. Leo Löwenthal tips his hat with subtle irony and humor to Marcuse’s 1967 triumphs as a public intellectual and political theorist. Activist students give Marcuse great credit because other Frankfurt theorists like Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno have remained aloof from this protest. Löwenthal remains more skeptical than Marcuse about the goals of the student movement, which seem to him too ideological and insufficiently radical.
5. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Herbert Marcuse From Marx to Freud to Marx: Letter to Martin Jay; Remarks to Sidney Lipshires
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Sidney Lipshires, a Marxist scholar, considered Marcuse’s shift “from Marx to Freud” problematic. Marcuse’s legitimate criticism of the conformist/adjustment elements of psychoanalytical practice seemed to Lipshires to require a recognition of theoretical weakness in Freud’s philosophical metapsychology, but this is in fact what Marcuse admires most—as explained in Eros and Civilization. Marcuse responds that Freud’s mythological material serves to recall the possibility of a nonrepressive culture! The anthropological research of Margaret Mead operates likewise. Marcuse steadfastly regards practice as political praxis, aiming at changing society as a whole, and says that Mead’s work and Freud’s work has helped him bring social theory back to Marx.
eros and praxis
6. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Stanley Aronowitz Marcuse's Conception of Eros
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In his books Eros and Civilization and An Essay on Liberation, Herbert Marcuse offers a different, but complementary, theory of eros from that of Freud. While sexuality still occupies a central space in the pleasure principle, Marcuse extends the concept to embrace a wider understanding of eros. Now eros is termed the “new sensibility,” which, in his view, has been made possible by the end of scarcity’s rule over human life. In an epoch in which necessary labor can be sharply reduced, we would have time to develop our capacities: arts and crafts, friendships, noncommodified intellectual pursuits, and, of course, love beyond procreation. The new sensibility can be dismissed as a utopian hope in a period of retrenchment of pleasure, but Marcuse refuses the prevailing tendency to ratify repression.
7. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Axel Honneth, Charles Reitz Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School
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This paper presents the distinctive qualities of Herbert Marcuse’s approach to critical theorizing. Marcuse’s early life in the German capital city of Berlin had lasting and contrasting impacts upon his political perspective and social activism when compared to the more provincial Frankfurt experiences of Horkheimer and Adorno. Marcuse was also more upbeat, resistant to defeatism, and conventionally thorough—in other words, less fragmentary or experimental—in his academic writing. I also offer a detailed description of the deep intellectual affinities linking the work of Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse into a distinguished “school” of critical social thought.
8. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Richard J. Bernstein Marcuse's Critical Legacy
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My aim in this paper is to engage in three interrelated tasks. First, I want to take a sweeping look at the historical vicissitudes of the concept of critique—in a style similar to the way in which Marcuse treated key concepts in the 1930s and 1940s, for example, in his famous essay “The Concept of Essence.” Second, my sketch of the history of critique is oriented to exploring Marcuse’s famous essay “Philosophy and Critical Theory.” I believe that in this 1937 essay, Marcuse put his finger on the central problem of critical theory—a problem that concerned him for the rest of this life. Third, I want to explore the critical legacy of Marcuse—a critical legacy that is revealed in the way in which it treated and constantly returned to this central problem.
9. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Nina Power Marcuse and Feminism Revisited
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This paper examines Marcuse’s complex relationship to feminism, both in his own time and today. It examines Marcuse’s celebration of and comments on the feminism of his time alongside Ellen Willis’s criticisms of Marcuse’s characterization of consumerism as “feminized.” The paper suggests that the widespread “one-dimensionality” of Marcuse’s 1964 diagnosis remains an apt diagnostic tool when the continued exploitation of women in many ways includes their mass entry into the workforce—once seen as a liberation from the domestic sphere—and the continued pushing of consumerist models of existence as supposedly characterizing the “good life.”
10. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Andrew Feenberg From Psychology to Ontology
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Marcuse’s philosophy of nature is closely bound up with his concepts of the erotic and the aesthetic. This paper discusses the connection and shows how themes from the early Marx, Heideggerian phenomenology, and Hegel come together in his work. Marcuse’s early writings under the influence of Heidegger focus on the unity of the living human subject and its environment. The later works develop a similar conception in terms of the aesthetic relation to nature and technological transformation.
11. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Osha Neumann Who's Winning--Eros or Thanatos?: Eros and Civilization and the Death of Nature
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Freud speculated that the course all living beings travel from birth to death is determined by a contest between a life instinct (Eros) and a death instinct (Thanatos). He believed that instinctual repression required by civilization tended to strengthen Thanatos. Herbert Marcuse argued that civilization did not require quite as much repression as Freud assumed. This joyous suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm by the countercultural political movements of the 1960s. I ask whether Marcuse was overly optimistic, given the fact that humanity appears to be hell-bent on destroying itself due to its inability to deal with global warming.
aesthetic and cultural dimensions
12. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Stefan Bird-Pollan Critiques of Judgment: A Kantian Reading of Marcuse
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I argue that Marcuse follows Kant’s critical distinction in mapping three basic forms of judgment: cognitive, moral, and aesthetic, all united by the underlying structure of purposiveness. Marcuse argues in Eros and Civilization that psychoanalysis has falsely identified repression as moral judgment with material need. With the gradual disappearance of material need, however, the authority of repression disappears, creating the possibility for freedom. However, the vacuum left by moral authority is replaced by cognitive and aesthetic judgments seeking to take morality’s place.
13. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Lucio Angelo Privitello Teaching Marcuse: A Critical Pedagogy of Aesthetic Dimensions
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In “The Aesthetic Dimension” (Eros and Civilization), Marcuse envisions an aesthetic pedagogy as a crucible of the potentialities of human existence. A review of Marcuse’s use of Schiller and Otto Rank highlights Marcuse’s middle-period reflections on aesthetics—signaling the call for an aesthetic ethos where “technique would . . . tend to become art, and art would tend to form reality” (An Essay on Liberation). A reexamination of various interpretations of Marcuse’s insights on aesthetic education precedes the proposal of a critical pedagogy of aesthetic dimensions that would enhance “creative receptivity” and foster a “third way” in teaching Marcuse’s “The Aesthetic Dimension.”
14. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Robespierre de Oliveira Aesthetics and Politics in Today's One-Dimensional Society
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Marcuse emphasizes a dialectical relationship between aesthetics and politics. Art promotes liberation through the education of sensibility and critique of reality—the Great Refusal—while still embodying elements of the ideological system of domination. Thus, although art itself cannot change the world, it can move people to social change. In this respect, the Great Refusal serves an important political role in challenging the Establishment. This paper argues for the continued theoretical relevance of the Great Refusal and for its practical possibilities in transforming society.
15. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
James McMahon Aesthetics, Technology, and Democracy: An Analysis of Marcuse's Concept of the New Sensibility
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This paper will analyze Marcuse’s theorizations about a new sensibility. While many of Marcuse’s commentators have correctly emphasized the importance of aesthetics as a foundation of the new sensibility, this concept is strong because it is also tied to arguments for a new democracy. The democratic foundation of the new sensibility is crucial because the technological foundation of a new society will not, according to Marcuse, satisfy all of the wants and desires that were promised in repressive societies. Rather, a new sensibility is meant to allow for radically democratic processes that question what, in fact, true needs are.
16. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Aaron Pinnix Unending Fries: Mechanical Repetition in Joe Wenderoth's Letters to Wendy's
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Joe Wenderoth’s Letters to Wendy’s (2000) brings fast food under poetry’s interrogational gaze, revealing a strange world of idealized hamburgers and erotically infused Frosties. Through a close reading of four poems and aided by Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (1964) I explore the implications of a mechanized repetition and idealized imagery which asserts itself at every stage in Western capitalism, from production to consumption. Poetry, in its engagement with the ambiguities of language, has the ability to question this process not by denying it, but rather by assuming the claims which arise out of this method of production and displaying their incongruities from within. Therefore poetic works like Letters to Wendy’s serve as important critical texts where no critique currently exists.
17. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Peter-Erwin Jansen, Charles Reitz Mobilization of Bias Today: The Renewed Use of Established Techniques; A Reconsideration of Two Studies on Prejudice from the Institute for Social Research
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Racial animosities are being mobilized today by right-wing voices in the US media. Resurgent racism requires intelligent analysis and societal intervention. This essay discusses how the classic, five-volume series Studies in Prejudice, undertaken by Max Horkheimer and others in the Frankfurt School, including Herbert Marcuse, furnishes a critical foundation. The mobilization of bias with regard to historical anti-Semitic abuses was seen to depend in definite ways upon an authoritarian type of personality structure. Herbert Marcuse strengthened the analysis by emphasizing that prejudice formation must be understood as well within concrete socioeconomic conflicts and the requirements of repressive political forces.
18. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Mark O'Brien Marcuse and the Language of Power: The Unfair Discourse of "Fairness" in the Coalition Government's Policy Presentation
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This paper considers the political manipulation of language in the UK governmental fairness agenda. It employs Marcuse’s analytical notion of the suppression of the transitive meaning of “the word” within “the sentence.” Further to this it links the operationalizing of language with positivist and uncritical policy epistemologies used by the UK coalition government. Using this theoretical framework the paper draws out the two broad meanings of the term “fairness” used to legitimate public-sector cuts on the one hand, and by researchers concerned with issues of structural inequality on the other.
critical lineages
19. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Filip Kovacevic Marcuse in Yugoslavia
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During the 1960s, Herbert Marcuse was an invited lecturer at the Korčula Summer School organized by the group of Yugoslav Marxist philosophers known as the Praxis Group. The aim of this article is to explore the way Marcuse and his ideas were received in the Yugoslav intellectual milieu. The article is based on the close reading of the forewords and afterwords written by Yugoslav philosophers in the translations of Marcuse’s books. It also gives an account of Marcuse’s activities during the proceedings of the Korčula Summer School.
20. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Lucius T. Outlaw Jr. "Critical Social Theory"--Then and Now: The Personal and the Political in an Intellectual Life
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The essay is a reflective reconstruction of encounters with persons, writings, and discursive communities involved with “critical social theory” across a decades-long quest for a comprehensive synchronic and diachronic understanding of significant aspects of the social whole of the United States of America, in particular, which understanding was to be the resource for guiding efforts in “emancipatory social transformation”: the overcoming of impediments to the enjoyment by Black people of flourishing lives without invidious racial discrimination and economic exploitation.