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Herbert Marcuse: From Marxism To Pessimism

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Chapter Summary

Marxism is in most of its versions an optimistic philosophy; so it is, for example, in Herbert Marcuse's earlier writings, when Hegel is castigated because his philosophy 'ends in doubt and resignation'. But the later Marcuse himself ends in a state of doubt, if not one of resignation: 'Those social groups which dialectical theory identified as the forces of negation are either defeated or reconciled with the established system'. This theme has been elaborated at length in One Dimensional Man, and it is worth enquiring whether on examination this transformation of Marxism into a pessimism does not reveal something about the character of Marxism and not just something about Marcuse's own intellectual development. Marcuse, like some other Marxists, moves from the level of a schematism for constructing theories to that of substantive theory without distinguishing the two, or even being aware that there are two levels.

Keywords:dialectical theory; Hegel; Herbert Marcuse; intellectual development; Marxism; One Dimensional Man; pessimism; schematism



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