Tom Rockmore

Lukács on Rationality and Irrationality


Like many other forms of thought., Marxism depends on a deeply rooted dichotomy which is constitutive of its self-understanding. In general, Marxism since Engels has mainly been characterized by the rejection of idealism in favor of materialism, where the latter is mainly, perhaps exclusively, understood as the antithesis of the former. This dualism, which Is expressed in such other ways as the the distinction between science and ideology, or revolutionary and bourgeois thought, is intended to differentiate between rational and irrational types of theory.[1] Understood in this way, “rational” means intrinsically related to the overthrow of capitalism In favor of communism” and “irrational” means “intrinsically committed to maintaining capitalism:

With the possible exception of the overt political emphasis, Marxism’s consistent appeal to a dualistic analysis of the relation of Marxism and non-Marxism as rational and irrational is highly traditional. The very idea of a radically new form of thought meant to break cleanly with what preceded it is a major theme running throughout the entire modern philosophical tradition at least since Descartes. Generations of philosophers have routinely proposed conceptual schemes meant to disqualify all preceding forms of thought as in principle unacceptable. In Kant, we find the claim that earlier forms of philosophy are dogmatic. Husserl argues that that philosophy has never taken shape as a rigorous science and we need to start over. According to Heidegger, since the pre-Socratics philosophy has abandoned the way of truth to which we need to return. Whatever else they might be, each of these arguments has the strategic purpose of introducing a difference in kind between philosophy and the history of philosophy in virtue of which philosophy need not take into account its prior forms.

Marxism is a leading instance of the effort to divorce supposedly rational thought from its irrational past. But Marxists have not always exhibited an appropriate grasp of the history of philosophy, which they are concerned to leave behind. Lukács is an outstanding example of a Marxist thinker with an exceptional command of the history of philosophy. One way to regard the development of his thought in his long Marxist period is as a series of efforts through an appropriately historical analysis to make out a difference in kind between materialism and idealism, which he understands as the distinction between rational and irrational forms of thought.

Any analysis of Lukács’s Marxist position needs to refer to its complex philosophical debt. For present purposes, we can distinguish five main strands in Lukács’s Marxism, with respect to Marx, Engels, Hegel, Fichte, and Lask. From Marx, Lukács borrows the concern with alienation, as well as an interest in commodity-analysis and ideology. From Engels, he takes the view of the distinction between idealism and materialism as a watershed in philosophy. From Hegel, he appropriates numerous ideas, above all the concept of totality. The indebtedness to Fichte and Lask is not often mentioned and is not well known. Lukács owes to Fichte the approach to human being as basically active which resurfaces in his interpretation of the proletariat as the solution to the Kantian problem of the thing-in-itself.

Lask’s role in the constitution of Lukács’ thought is not well known, but crucial for a grasp of his effort to argue for the difference in kind between materialism and idealism which forms a basic article of Marxist faith. In his neo-Kantian examination of the problem of history, under the heading of the problem of irrationality, Lask held that the isolated historical occurrence could not be known and that history as a science was impossible. in his initial Marxist breakthrough, Lukas s transformed what in (Ask s position is a claim about the conditions of historical knowledge into a claim about the intrinsic irrationality of so-called bourgeois thought, unable to know its object. Since Lask was a leading neo-pants an before his untimely death, is not too much to say that through his influence Lukács’s Marxism is a neo-Kantian Marxism or a Marxian neo-Kantian.

In Lukács’s Marxist phase, we can differentiate at least four main stages of his argument in favor of Marxism through the effort to make out the distinction between idealism and materialism. In History and Class Consciousness which represents his initial Marxist breakthrough, Lukács maintained a rigid dichotomy between Marxism and so-called bourgeois thought, which he regarded as a series of stages meant to overcome the problem of the thing-in-itself arguably culminating in Hegel’s mythical analysis of history. According to Lukács., Marxism., or the theory of commodity-analysis.. which was adequate to provide the solution to all contemporary problems, provided the unity of theory and practice lacking in idealism which, in virtue of its bourgeois perspective., was supposedly. unable to now its object.

Lukács developed his epistemological perspective on the supposed difference in kind between Marxism and bourgeois thought, materialism and idealism, in his later writings. In The Young Hegel, which remains the major Marxist contribution to the study of this thinker, he carried further his pioneering effort, begun in History and Class Consciousness, to work out a Hegelian form of Marxism. Whereas Lukács earlier maintained that idealists were oblivious to the economic dimension of social reality, he now asserted that Hegel was distinguished by his knowledge of bourgeois political economy. Lukács further argued that unlike Marx, Hegel was unable to surpass the bounds of bourgeois political economy, a distinction reflected in the profound difference in the idealist and materialist analyses of alienation. Once again, the thrust of the discussion is to argue for a difference in kind between Marxism and so-called bourgeois, or idealist, thought.

A third phase in Lukács’s continuing effort to make out this difference occurs in the discussions of existentialism and irrationalism. In the polemical analysis of Existentialism or Marxism? Lukács applies Engels’s canonical Marxist view that there is no third way between materialism and idealism in order to assimilate existentialism to idealism. In the Destruction of Reason, following Hegel’s invidious distinction, Lukács differentiates between two forms of idealism: objective idealism leading up to Hegel, which Marx transformed into materialism; and subjective idealism leading from the later Schelling and Kierkegaard to various forms of irrationalism, including Nietzsche and the Lebensphilosophie of Dilthey and others, which finds its terminus ad quern in national socialism.

Each of the stages of Lukács’s Marxism surveyed so far represents a stage in the ongoing effort to make out the Marxist claim for the distinction in kind between Marxism and non-Marxist thought, materialism and idealism. Since Marxism consistently views itself as the only form of social rationality, this argument constitutes a strategy to discredit non-Marxist philosophy as arational or even irrational. Out it is important to note that this radical intention is is traditional within Marxism and modern philosophy in general. For as a strategy to argue for itself by undercutting all other claims to rationality, despite its proclaimed opposition to the philosophical tradition Marxism closely imitates a main strand of modern philosophy.

The claim for a difference in kind between Marxism and non-Marxism, which is constitutive of Marxism since Engels, and Lukács’s Marxism until his final period, changes radically in Lukács’ final thought. The last stage of Lukács ‘s position presents an exciting new form of Marxism, in which he softens his rigid dualism between Marxism and non-Marxism . With respect to his argument for materialism and against idealism, this phase is particularly interesting since Lukács here relativizes the opposition between Marxism and other forms of philosophy. As a result, he is finally able to understand the relation of Marxism to non-Marxism which successfully circumvents the need to rely on an untenable separation between the historical and systematic aspects of philosophy. In the remainder of this paper, want to sketch rapidly some of the ways in which Lukács turns away from his earlier Marxist dogmatism in order to turn towards a new, perhaps more vibrant form of Marxism.

The last stage of Lukács’ argument is contained in a posthumously published study of ontology., the main item in the writings which Lukács left behind at his death, published under the title On the Ontology of Social Being [Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins].[2] This book constitutes a new and important phase in Lukács’s Marxism. Unquestionably, History and Class Consciousness is the work in Lukács’s Marxist period which has exerted and continues to exert, a major and enduring influence on later Marxist discussion. But as a contribution to Marxism, his posthumously published study of ontology is arguably his most important Marxist text.

Lukács did not have time to finish preparing his manuscript for publication. But it was sufficiently close to being finished when he died for us to evaluate its significance and its place within his thought. This book: represents a new stage in Lukács’s position, which differs here as much from the preceding Stalinist period as that phase differs from his initial. better known Marxist moment. It is arguable that this study represents a new high point in Lukács’s Marxist period. In view of his importance within Marxist philosophy, it is perhaps the single most important contribution to Marxist philosophy published in this century. But for a variety of reasons, including its inordinate length and relative unavailability until recently, this book is not widely known and unlikely to become so in the near future. It is not even well known to Marxists, and only slightly better known to Lukács specialists.[3] It is not possible at present to describe this multi-faceted book in detail. It will be useful to characterize this study of social ontology in a few broad strokes, a task which is perhaps most easily done against the background of Lukács’s previous Marxist writings.

Even in a rapid, incomplete description it is helpful to mention the difference between the study as a whole and its “Prolegomena”. The Prolegomena, the last thing Lukács wrote, differs significantly from the remainder of the study. Although the “Prolegomena” is part of the book as a whole. its origin is strictly occasional. According to the editor, it was written only in order to answer the criticism of friends and students of the other parts of the work. The result is a gigantic resume of a study which Lukács was unable to complete, and which perhaps could not be completed.[4] The editor correctly suggests that the “Prolegomena” differs from the rest of the book in its avoidance of the rigid dualism supposedly characteristic of its historical and systematic parts.[5] It further exhibits an increased freedom from Marxist orthodoxy as manifested in a tendency, unprecedented in the writings of Lukács’s Marxist phase, to criticize all the main figures of classical Marxism including Lenin.[6]

The ordinary difficulty of describing an important philosophical work is only compounded by the bewildering number of themes Lukács takes up in this long work. We can distinguish between the phases of Lukács’s analysis of the relation of Marx and Marxism to non-Marxist philosophy on the one hand and the evolution of his view of Marxism on the other. In this essay we have so far studied three stages in Lukács’s Marxism. These include his initial breakthrough to Marxism in History and Class Consciousness a further, more Leninist form of Marxism in his monographic study of The Young Hegel, and his later Stalinist writings on Existentialism or Marxim?. and Destruction of Reason Lukács’s study of ontology constitutes a fourth and final stage of his Marxist period.

Obviously, the different stages of Lukács’s Marxism reflect important changes in the course of a varied and complex intellectual itinerary extending over more than six decades., from his famous conversion to Marxism at the end of 1918 to his death in 1971. But as in the thought of any significant thinker, there is also an important element of continuity in Lukács writing. A persistent theme in Lukács ‘s Marxism is a preoccupation with Marxist orthodoxy in History and Class Consciousness and in all later writings. Although his comprehension of orthodox Marxism varied as he traversed his different Marxist periods, his commitment to the principle of orthodoxy remained invariant. In his last Marxist period, many elements in Lukács ‘s understanding of Marxism change; but perhaps the most important change is the silent, but conceptually significant move away from Marxist orthodoxy of any kind.

Speaking generally, we can say that at the end of his long career, Lukács returns to many of the themes earlier treated in his initial Marxist phase in a discussion which is no longer orthodox in any recognizable sense. If, following Marxism in general, including Lukács’s earlier Marxist views, we comprehend orthodoxy and unorthodoxy as true contraries which divide the conceptual universe between them, it is fair to say that Lukács’s final Marxist perspective is at least unorthodox and perhaps even heretical. Lukács’s move away from Marxist orthodoxy in his last phase results in a singularly free form of Marxism which clearly violates a series of Marxist canons he had earlier sought to respect.

Among these canons, three are particularly important for all his earlier views of Marxism. They include a tendency to accord decisive philosophical weight to the views of Marxists whose qualifications are mainly, or only., political; a further tendency routinely to dismiss non-Marxist thinkers merely for this reason; and a still further tendency to. defend uncritically the Marxist dogma that Marx’s contribution is principally or even wholly economic in character. Each of these tendencies belongs to the orthodox defense of Marxism through the attempted disqualification of non-Marxism.

In abandoning these features of his Marxist approach to Marxist materialism and German idealism, Lukács literally transforms his ability to comprehend both forms of thought from his new, unorthodox perspective. It would be an error to exaggerate the difference between earlier and later phases of Lukács’s thought, which exhibits strong elements of continuity; but it is not too much to say that his silent abandonment of Marxist orthodoxy in his last phase results in a sea change in his reading of Marx and Marxism and their relation to German idealism.

The change in Lukács’s utilization of the Marxist classics in his study of ontology is particularly clear. After History and Class Consciousness, Lukács routinely accorded philosophical weight to statements by Marxists without standard philosophical credentials, including even Stalin. The study of social ontology exhibits a respectful, but frequently critical attitude towards classical Marxist thinkers. But Lukács is particularly critical of Stalin and Stalinist writers, whom he consistently takes to task throughout this long work on a large number of philosophical and political grounds. Clearly, he maintains his philosophical commitment to Marxism; but equally clearly he no longer feels the need to buttress his own opinions with quotations from the Marxist classics or to support any and all views expressed by the political leaders of the Marxist movement.

There is also an important change in Lukács’s capacity to appreciate non-Marxist thought. in virtue of its allegedly bourgeois character throughout the prior portion of his Marxist phase, Lukács routinely dismissed idealism, even in those positions which he obviously admired and to which he was clearly indebted, such as Hegel’s. This attitude, which in principle prevented him from recognizing the permanent contribution of any

non-Marxist thinker., is literally swept away in his study of ontology. For the first time in Lukács’s Marxist period a new attitude enables him to appreciate the significance of positions different from his own. His increased sensitivity to other types of philosophy is reflected in various ways. These include a greater sensitivity to the philosophical differences between idealism and materialism, and an increased capacity to accord a positive reception of non-Marxist writers.

Several examples will illustrate the alteration in Lukács’s attitude toward non-Marxist philosophers. His attention to Hegel is a constant theme present throughout his Marxist period. in the discussion of Hegel before the study on ontology, he constantly criticized Hegelian idealism as such from the perspective of the supposed distinction between materialism and idealism. In the long treatise on ontology, this distinction is scarcely mentioned. It is perhaps even more noteworthy that in the first part of this study Lukács devotes a long and highly appreciative chapter to an obviously non-Marxist thinker, Nicolai Hartmann. According to Lukács, Hartmann is the only non-Marxist to have a positive view of dialectic.[7]

The change in Lukács’s capacity to appreciate non-Marxist thought is further reflected in his interpretion of Marx’s relation to Hegel. Lukács now maintains that we need not understand Marx’s thought as representing a radical break with the prior philosophical tradition; rather, we can comprehend it, as Lenin suggests perhaps in an unconscious echo of Hegel’s approach to the history of philosophy—as preserving in itself all that is of value in preceding philosophy but going further than prior thinkers. Lukács writes: “The recollection of the most significant predecessors seems to us to be useful, because in this way the significance of Marxism is not limited to its radical break with limited metaphysical and idealistic tendencies of bourgeois philosophy, as reported in the Stalin-Zhdanov period. On the contrary, to employ Lenin’s term, it [i.e. the significance of Marxism – TR.] is that Marxism appropriates and transforms every thing of value in the more than two thousand year old development of human thought and human culture.[8]

This passage marks a clear difference between two different, incompatible views of the nature of Marxism: First, there is an approach, which Lukács here associates with Stalinism, to Marxism as sui generis and unrelated to bourgeois philosophy, which it has simply discarded. Second, there is an different, incompatible approach, which Lukács here attributes to Lenin, to Marxism as taking up into itself and as further developing all that is positive in preceding thought. Obviously, these two views of Marxism cannot be reconciled. It cannot be the case that Marxism breaks radically with non-Marxism, and that Marxism takes up and further develops all that is possible in prior philosophy. Either Marxism breaks cleanly with prior philosophy, which it leaves behind; or Marxism further develops the positive contribution of previous philosophy. But it cannot be both. l cannot stress too strongly the significance of this statement: for the former approach to Marxism was in generally characteristic of Lukács’s Marxist writings until the study of ontology; but it is the latter approach to Marxism which is characteristic in this work.

A further difference lies in the move in this study, for the first time in Lukács ‘s Marxist period, away from a strongly economic, or economic, reading of Marx’s thought. In History and Class Consciousness Lukács argued that Marx differed from other philosophers in his analysis of the economic basis of society. And in later writings he maintained that Marxism as a form of thought was characterized by an attention to economics lacking in Marxist thought. Now applied to Marx, this Marxist view leads ineluctably to the conclusion that Marx only finally becomes a mature thinker when he leaves behind his youthful interest in philosophy. This is a conclusion which Lukács never drew, and which Marx also never drew. But it was drawn by Althusser, and has led to a spirited discussion in the secondary Literature.[9]

Perhaps with Althusser in mind, Lukács now reacts against even the possibility that Marx’s thought is discontinuous in an important affirmation of the unity of Marx’s position over time, from early to late. Lukács argues this point in various ways, of which two can be mentioned here. On the one hand, Lukács affirms the so-called continuity thesis, that is the continuity of Marx’s view throughout his career by denying that Marx ever renounced his earlier views in his later writings.[10] On the other hand, Lukács returns to the concept of alienation which was a central theme in his initial Marxist phase. In the literature, as part of the effort to argue for the difference in kind between Marxian. or Marxist, Materialism and German idealism, it has been suggested that after the “Paris Manuscripts” Marx leaves this concept behind. In a lengthy chapter which closes his treatise on social ontology, Lukács refutes this reading of Marx’s position.[11]

These brief comments suffice to indicate that from a general perspective the discussion of ontology represents an important new stage in Lukács’s Marxism. I need now to characterize the aim of this book. As a first approach, we can refer to Lukács’s remarks in a series of interviews in the weeks before his death, in part reproduced in the Afterword to his study of social ontology.[12] In particular, two statements attributed to Lukács provide a lucid, but simple access to his complex Marxian theory of ontology.

In response to an invitation to comment on his last work, Lukács states: “Following Marx, imagine ontology as the real philosophy based on history. Now it is historically not doubtful that inorganic being is first, and from it– how we don’t know, but we know approximately when—organic being emerges, and precisely in its plant and animal forms. And from this biological situation, through an enormous number of transitions, emerges what we designate as human social being, whose essence is the teleological positing of man, that is, work. That is the most decisive new category, which includes everything within itself.”[13] And he adds, in response to a further invitation to specify the extent to which Marx himself had developed this thesis, the following comment: “Above all Marx worked out, and I hold that for the most important part of the Marxian theory) that every being is historical. In the “Paris Manuscripts,” Marx says that there is only one science, namely history, and he adds: ”A non-objective essence is a non-essence.” That means, a fact which has no categorial properties cannot exist. Hence, existence means that every category is exemplified in the objectivity of a definitive form, to which the respective essence belongs. Here ontology is sharply separated from the old philosophy.”[14]

These two oral statements provide a clear, but incomplete indication of Lukács’s intention in his study. Obviously, Lukács’ general aim in this work is to base himself on Marx’s position in order to develop the elements of an ontology of social being. Ostensibly following Marx, he regards ontology as the philosophy which underlies the correct comprehension of history. A conception of human history from an ontological perspective presupposes a triple distinction between inorganic being, which precedes and hence underlies organic being, organic being, for instance in its animal and plant forms, and finally social or human being.

Lukács believes that the essence of human social being lies in teleological positing [die teleologische Setzung], a term Lukács constantly employs throughout this long book without ever reflecting upon it.[15] As used here, the term has obvious associations with earlier positions in the history of philosophy, including Plato’s view that a carpenter requires an idea of what he makes in order to make it, Fichte’s concept of striving [Streben], and the concept of intentionality prominent in phenomenology. From this general angle of vision, we can say that for Lukács work [Arbeit] is the defining characteristic of human being, since we precede our activity with an idea of whet we intend to accomplish.

Lukács holds that the category of work only emerges in the recent philosophical tradition. From the epistemological perspective, this category is centrally important since on this basis we can generate all other social categories. As a concept, work is anticipated by other writers, particularly Aristotle and Hegel. But Lukács maintains that the Mandan view of work constitutes a concrete rethinking of what for Hegel is still an abstract concept. Obviously, Lukács has in mind a categorial interpretation of social being, that is, a categorial approach to knowledge of the social world. Clearly, through his categorial approach to knowledge Lukács retains an important link with the epistemological approach manifested throughout classical German philosophy beginning with Kant.

But Lukács differs, or at least claims to differ, from classical German philosophy in his realist stress on the immanence of the category, which is present in the mind of the observer and functions as well within the social context. According to Lukács, things do not change in and of themselves; rather, they change as the result of conscious positing in which the result corresponds to the aim. Lukács maintains that we can understand human society in terms of teleological positing, more precisely as following from the effort to achieve value through goal-directed activity. In now stressing that teleological activity is both the basic category for the understanding of social life and immanent within it as its real basis, reaffirms the Spinozistic„ or double-aspect, form of Marxism already in evidence in History and Class Consciousness

In response to the question of the extent to which Marx had worked out this, or a similar view, Lukács breaks cleanly with his own prior convictions in two important respects. On the one hand, in his reference to the most important part of the Marxian theory [der Marxschen Theorie] Lukács simply unravels the fundamental Marxist dogma of the seamless web linking Marx and Marxism. Marxists of the most diverse persuasions, who agree on virtually no other doctrinal point, are united in their conviction that their own views, although not necessarily those of their competitors, preserve the essence of Marx’s thought.

In his prior Marxist writings, as a central element of his own orthodoxy, Lukács has never admitted the distinction between Marx and Marxism. But he does so here. in his allusion to Marx’s thought in this crucial passage, Lukács tacitly suggests that there is a difference between the views of Marx and Marxism. In his suggestion that Marx’s position is a separate conceptual entity Lukács implies that it ought not to be conflated with Marxism. It is not too much to say that in this wag Lukács challenges a fundamental element of official Marxism; and he further undermines a main component of his own earlier form of Marxist faith.

On the other hand, in stating that Marx had above all worked out that the basic category of social being resides in its historical character, Lukács indicates his intention to go beyond the letter of Marx’s theory by elaborating it according to its spirit. The clear implication is that Marx’s position is not fully complete, but requires additional development. This further implies that the criterion of acceptable theory is no longer mere allegiance to a view, namely Marx’s theory. Rather, for Lukács in this study even Marx’s thought is finally interesting insofar it contains the resources necessary to permit the development of a social ontology towards which Marx only pointed.

Although important, these innovations are overshadowed by Lukács’s assertion that the most important part of Marxian theory resides in a comprehension of the historical character of social being. In this way, Lukács attributes to, or rather discovers in, Marx’s thought the highly contemporary thesis that ontology is grounded in history. It hardly needs stressing that an analogous thesis is elaborated in rather different fashion by Heidegger as the basis of his so-called fundamental ontology.[16]

Lukács now glosses his thesis by pointing to a passage in the “Paris Manuscripts” where Marx remarks that the only science is history and further remarks that a non-objective essence is a non-essence. Although in part an argument from authority, this gloss is important. Lukács clearly means to endorse the Marxian view that all sciences ultimately derive from and depend upon the science of history. Presumably in this context, Lukács understands “historical science” to mean “the categorial interpretation of social being in terms of work, or teleological activity, from a temporal perspective.”

Lukács’s interpretation of Marx’s statement on essence as requiring objectivity, or objective existence, allows him to insist on the immanence of the categories within social reality. In this way, Lukács implicitly connects categorial immanence to a realist perspective, which he here regards as decisvely different from earlier forms of ontology. Significantly, Lukács now argues this point in terms of the basic realism of the Marxian perspective, and not, as in earlier writings, by referring either to the difference of materialism from idealism, or the difference of proletarian from bourgeois thought. In the same way, Lukács is careful not to claim that the historical perspective as such is unprecedented. Indeed, he acknowledges that some earlier categorial systems also contained historical categories. In his view, the relevant difference lies in the insight that for Marxism history is the history of categorial change. This reading leads to the inference that even the categories undergo change through time, and to the further claim, which I have already noted, that the categories are parts of objective reality.

Two conclusions follow from this line of thought. On the one hand, since everything which exists is categorial, nothing can exist which is not a category. This is a direct consequence of Lukács’s effort to synthesize categorial and realist approaches. On the other hand, insisting that everything which exists is a category, Lukács maintains that Marxism differs from the older philosophies which regard categorial being as the basic category within which the categories of being arise. Although Lukács refers to an example taken from Leibniz, he does not identify the older thinkers whom he has in mind. Clearly, one such thinker is Hegel. It is useful to recall that Hegel precisely attempts to derive the categories of reality from the general, but ahistorical concept of being, in which he includes historical categories as well.

This reference enables us to focus Lukács’s claim for the originality of the Marxist view against its background in classical German thought, particularly in relation to Hegelian idealism. Lukács is not asserting that the Mandan, or Marxist, angle of vision differs in its attention to history as such from a categorial perspective. rather, he believes that materialism differs from idealism in its resolute extension of the historical dimension to the categorial framework itself. The categorial framework is no longer thought of as an invariant conceptual network prior to and independent of the object of knowledge, for instance in a Kantian or perhaps even in a Fichtean sense; on the contrary, the mutable framework is immanent within the object. In a word, in Lukács’s interpretation of the Marxian turn to history the categorial approach typical of classical German thought takes on a new, historically relative form in a new type of historical realism.

As in his preceding writings, Lukács develops his systematic ideas in large part through detailed discussion of different views in the history of philosophy. In earlier writings, the conviction that Marxism as the truth differed in kind from non-Marxism meant that from the epistemological angle of vision non-Marxism could not be true as such; it was true at all only and to the extent that it contributed to the rise of Marxism. It would be incorrect to suggest that Lukács has entirely abandoned this perspective, since there is still much partisan discussion of Marxism as better, or intrinsically better, than non-Marxism. But in general the most impressive aspect of Lukacs’s relativization of the difference between reason and unreason lies in his new found capacity to provide a sympathetic and insightful discussion of non-Marxist thought.

In order to characterize Lukácss increased sensitivity to important positions in the history of philosophy, we can turn briefly to his discussions of Nikolai Hartmann, Hegel and Marx. In his long study of ontology, the two main examples of his treatment of non-Marxist thought are the discussions of Hartmann and Hegel. In view of Lukács’s earlier rejection of non-Marxism as such, even his choice of the title of his chapter on Hartmann as “Nikolai Hartmanns Push toward a Genuine Ontology” is significant. Obviously, in his qualification of Hartmann’s view as a step toward an authentic ontology, Lukács has silently dropped the class perspective which he earlier advanced as the principal criterion of Philosophical truth in History and Class Consciousness.

The analysis of Hartmann’s ontology is divided into two sections, including a description of its basic principles, followed by a critical evaluation. [wicks is above all impressed by Hartmanns effort to construct an ontological theory. Lukács maintains that since Hartmann’s theory is immanent, it avoids any theological overtones and further resists the tendency to transform ontology into epistemology.[17] According to Lukács, Hartmann’s ontology is most novel in its attention to the elaboration of a categorial framework.[18] With respect to his own preoccupation with social ontology, Lukács regards Hartmann’s approach as doubly deficient: it fails to contribute to social ontology, of which it has a confused understanding at best,[19] and it exhibits no real grasp of the dialectic.[20]

Lukács’s discussion of Hegel within this book is doubly important: as the final chapter in an extended discussion of Hegel’s thought which runs throughout his entire Marxist period; and as an integral part of his effort here to elaborate a social ontology from a Marxian, or Marxist, angle of vision. In spite of the monograph length of his Hegel chapter which led to its appearance as a separate work, his treatment of Hegel in this book is severely condensed. With the exception of his discussion of Marx, Lukács remarks on Hegel are more detailed than those on any other philosopher. Now Hegel is a special case, or at ‘least became a special case in part through Lukácss own pioneering effort in History and Class Consciousness to demonstrate that Marx had to be understand in terms of his relation to Hegel.

It is arguable that Lukács’s stress on the importance of Hegel for the understanding of Marx, which he maintains here, continues to conflict with his capacity to appreciate Hegelian idealism. Somewhat paradoxicaly, we find in his analysis of Hegel a close link between an increased sensitivity to non-Marxism and a still rather orthodox Marxist reading of Hegel. Lukács’s residual orthodoxy is evident in various ways, particularly in the rapid recourse to Marx and Marxism in order to criticize, or even to describe, Hegel’s position. The impressive., but also curious result is a series of -comments on Hegel’s thought which reflect considerable insight into the position, an increased openness to Hegelian idealism, as well as a greater residual orthodoxy than elsewhere in the work on ontology.

In virtue of the residual orthodoxy of Lukács Hegel analysis, it is arguably that part of the study of ontology which is closest to History and Class Consciousness. In the earlier book, we recall Lukács’s effort to demonstrate antinomies of classical German thought derivative of a supposed inability to understand the re& subject of history. In .his turn to ontology., Lukács is no longer interested in proving the antinomic character of classical German philosophy as such; but he is still interested in proving the antinomic character of Hegel’s position.

Lukács discusses Hegel’s thought from the ontological perspective under the heading of Hegel’s false and genuine ontologies [Hegels falsche und echte Ontologie].[21] He maintains that Hegel is the first thinker since Heraclitus to regard the concept of contradiction as the ultimate ontological principle.[22] But he believes that, as the Marxists quickly saw, Hegel only seemingly united reason and reality in his thought. In support of this assertion, he indicates that we need only to remember Hegel’s panlogism. He further maintains that if we are to rely on Hegel’s thought today, we can do so only by going further on the path already trodden by the classical Marxist thinkers. In this respect, Lukács now adapts for his own purposes a perhaps unfortunate phrase, which Marx applied to Ricardo. According to Lukács, we need to acknowledge that for Hegel what is novel in his position appears in the midst of the dung of the contradictions [Dünger der Widersprüche].[23]

It would be hasty to conclude that at this point in his evolution Lukács simply rejects Hegel’s thought from a Marxist perspective. As in his prior writings, in many ways Lukács here continues to propose a strongly positive reading of Hegel’s thought. For instance, he acknowledges the significance of Hegel’s analysis of the contradictory nature of the present situation. He writes: “This dung of contradictions’ appears in Hegel to begin with as the knowledge of the contradictory nature of the present, as the problem not only of thought, but &so as that of reality itself, as a primarily ontological problem, which carries far beyond the present day, and as its basis for every rational thought concerning this.”[24] In this way, Hegel offers a grasp of the present as the result of a dialectical social process, which is itself grounded in the dialectical process of anorganic nature. Lukács praises this insight as “the first union of the dialectical results and real historicality.”[25] The result, as he stresses, Is a profound grasp on the present as a moment in a larger process whose other dimensions are the past and the future.

Lukács further sees in the idea of contradiction, which he regards as the basis of Hegel’s attempt to grasp the real world, the main weakness in Hegel’s thought. Lukács believes that Hegel’s thought, more precisely his logic, is intrinsically antinomic because of the multiple strains created by the simultaneous presence within it, unknown to Hegel, of two different, but incompatible ontologies.[26] First, there is a false ontology, that strand of Hegel’s position Lukács rejects. He describes Hegel’s false ontology as the view in which the authentic ontological relations initially receive their appropriate conceptual expression in the form of logical categories. Second, there is the true ontological view in which the logical categories are not understood as pure moments of thought, but as the dynamic constituents of the essential movement of reality itself.. Lukács writes: “On the one hand, in Hegel the genuine ontological relation receive their appropriate expression first in the form of logical categories; on the other hand, the logic& categories are not, hence, conceived as pure thought determinations, but must be understood as dynamic constituents of the essential movement of reality itself, as steps, as stages on the way to the self-attainment of spirit. Therefore, the principal antinomies, which so far have shown themselves and below will show themselves, arise from the clash of two ontologies, which are present unrecognized and which work against each other in many ways”.[27]

Lukács’s critique rests on two presuppositions. As in his prior writings, he continues to invoke the traditional Marxist insistance on being as prior to thought, in this case in the form of a realist theory of social being. Lukács continually maintains throughout this work that it is in principle a mistake to subordinate being of any kind to thought about being. With respect to Hegel, a relevant difference is that Lukács now supposes that despite his best efforts Hegel fails to present a unitary vision since Hegelian idealism is finally dualistic. Now it is well known that Hegel stressed monism and criticized others, for instance Kant,[28] for an inability to overcome dualism. In now raising the specter of dualism against Hegel, Lukács is evaluating Hegel by the same standard that that latter employed to evaluate other thinkers.

Lukács’s claim that Hegel’s thought contains an unresolved dualism is a significant modification of his earlier critique of Hegel. In The Young Hegel, following Marx’s. remarks on the Phenomoenology in the “Paris Manuscripts,” he argued that Hegel incorrectly begins from thought whereas Marx correctly begins from the social context. Here Lukacs continues to accept the Marxist view, following the famous hint in the Second Afterword to Capital, that Marx puts Hegel’s dialectic on its feet so to speak. But he now regards the relation between Marx and Hegel as more complicated than Marxists, presumably Lukács himself, had previously understood.[29] In earlier writings, Lukács had understood this relation as a simple inversion. But he now maintains that in Hegel we find both the type of approach he previously rejected from a Marxist angle of vision as well as the type of approach from which he earlier rejected the Hegelian view.

Clearly, Lukács’s reading of Hegel as an unconscious purveyor of two incompatible ontologies is important for Lukács’s present concern with social ontology. From his realist perspective, Lukács rejects the first Hegelian ontology but accepts the second. What he calls the second Hegelian ontology functions within Lukács’s view to explain the relation of Marx to Hegel and as the basis for the elaboration of his own social ontology. in his earlier analysis of the relation of Marx to Hegel„ Lukács operated with a simple., perhaps simplistic, exclusive dichotomy between materialism and idealism. On the contrary, Lukács now proposes that both ontological views are located within Hegel’s own position as alternative answers to Hegel’s allegedly basic problem of how to realize the realm of reason within the postrevolutionary world.[30]

There is a price to pay for the change in Lukács’s reading of Hegel. His new, dualistic reading of Hegel’s ontology undermines his continued reference to Hegel, here and elsewhere, as an idealist. As a result of Lukács’s new Hegel interpretation, the distinction between materialism and idealism) or at least this distinction in its usual, dichotomous form, becomes superfluous to describe the difference between Marxist and non-Marxist perspectives. If both idealist and materialist, or realist, ontologies cohabit, or cohabit silently within Hegel’s thought, the consequence is to undermine the usual critique of Hegel as an idealist from the materialist perspective. For it follows that Hegel is both an idealist and a materialist; and it further follows that the ordinary Marxist view of the difference in kind and not in degree between the two perspectives is irrelevant, or at least insufficient, to differentiate between Hegel and Marx. In a word, from the angle of vision Luk8cs introduces here, the famous supposed reversal of Hegel’s thought in Marx’s position cannot be a simple inversion, as Lukács properly suggests in his comment that the sense in which Marx set Hegel on his feet is more complex than the Marxists have seen; it is rather Marx’s rejection of one strand in Hegel’s thought in favor of another.

In his tacit decision to give up the distinction between materialism and idealism, or at least this distinction as usually drawn, Lukács moves backward from Marxism, for which the distinction is a basic dogma, toward Marx, for whom it is insignificant. But, as could be expected, Lukács does not weaken his claim for the superiority of Marx’s vantagepoint. Not surprisingly, he continues to insist on the significance of the difference between Marx and Hegel as of fundamental importance for his reading of Hegel as well as for his own ontological task. “The following considerations on Hegel are based on Marx. The development of his ontology, above all that of social being, better serves to illuminate the positions of both great thinkers in intimate dependency and qualitative difference, even opposition.”[31]

Lukács’s increased sensitivity in this work to non-Marxist thought is accompanied by a similar increase in sensitivity to Marx’s position. There can be no pretense here of a detailed exposition of the last phase of Lukács’ reading of Marx as an ontological thinker, even in outline. It will be sufficient to mention only some of the main aspects of Lukács’s final reading of Marx. According to Lukács, just as Marx’s critique of Hegel is ontological so his own theory is fundamentally an ontological view, in which he comprehends human being in terms of human practice [Praxis].[32] Lukács maintains that starting in his earliest writings Marx’s new theory of ontology arose through a double relation to Hegel’s view: the critique of Hegelian logicism on the one hand., and the further elaboration of the Hegelian view of social being as a historical process,[33] with particular attention to the ontologically basic role of the economic dimension of social reality on the other.[34]

With respect to his earlier discussions, Lukács’s analysis of Marx here has several new features. These include a revised reading of Hegel’s position, and hence of Marx’s relation to it, and the attention to the ontological nature of Marx’s thought. it is well known that Lenin insisted that most Marxists failed to comprehend Marx since they were unfamiliar with Hegel. Similarly.. Lukács now strongly insists that since Lenin Marxism has mainly lost sight of the authentic nature of Marx’s ontology. Lukács holds that the main task at present is to call attention to the true nature of Marx’s view, not only for its own sake, but above all in order to facilitate the development of human being is a manner dependent neither on theology nor on other forms of utopian thought. He writes: “This digression was necessary in order to show that today the task of Marxists can only be to reawaken the genuine Marxian ontology, above all with its help to make scientifically possible not only a historically true analysis of the historical development since Marx’s death, which today is as good as entirely lacking, but also in order to grasp and to expound the being as a whole) in Marx’s sense, as fundamentally a historically (irreversible) process. This is the sole theoretically feasible way to expound in thought the process of man’s becoming man, the becoming of the human specieis without any transcendence, without any utopia. Only in this way can this theory recover the practical pathos remaining beyond the earthly-immanent, which it had in Marx and which later, in partial abstraction from Lenin’s intermediate position, theoretically as well as practically to the greatest extent disappeared.”[35]

It is interesting, in view of Lukács’s earlier pronouncements on the inevitable victory of communism, that he here stresses the relative, but not, as in earlier writings, the absolute superiority of the Marxian standpoint as the only possible way to achieve the end in view. Lukács identifies three elements required to reawaken the authentic Marxian ontology at this time.[36] First, we need a fundamental critique of contemporary bourgeois ideology, particularly in relation to neopositivism. Second, and as a precondition, we require a basic critique of the Stalinist view of Marxism. Third, as is clear from his comments on Hegel, we must provide a study of the Hegelian residue in Marxism.

At this point in his evolution Lukács has not diminished his commitment to Marxism, or his belief that it is so to speak the only wag; and his terminology is still Marxist. But it would seem that Lukács’s commitment here is tempered by a more realistic view of Marx„ by the recognition that Marx’s position does not put an end to philosophy, even by an awareness that despite its novel features, Marx’s view is merely another theory in the philosophical tradition, in terms of which it requires evaluation. It is not too much to say that just as others in the philosophic& tradition routinely argue for the comparative advantage of one approach over its alternatives, so at the close of his Marxist phase Lukács makes a similar argument on behalf of Marx’s ontological perspective.

Obviously, this series of brief remarks is not intended as a complete description of Lukács’s study of ontology, even in outline. Although I have in part described the “Prolegomena’s and portions of the first volume, I have said nothing, or almost nothing about the systematic discussion of such important themes as work, reproduction, ideology, and alienation which occupy the second volume. Nonetheless„ these remarks suffice to evaluate the role of Lukács’s final phase in the Marxist effort to refute idealism in favor of materialism.

In the preceding discussion, I have shown that Marxism largely constitutes itself through the rejection of non-Marxist, supposedly bourgeois thought; and I have explored the way in which Lukács makes this argument in two ways: in terms of the supposed rationality or irrationality of the object of knowledge from the materialist or idealist perspectives, and in terms of the supposed rationality and irrationality of Marxism and non-Marxist thought as such.

There is an evident similarity between the two forms of Lukács ‘s argument. in each case, he presupposes distinctions in kind between non-Marxist and Marxist forms of thought, and between irrationality and rationality. Now when we reflect on Lukács’s study of social ontology, we see that in his final phase he relativizes these twin distinctions presupposed throughout his earlier writings as the basis for his argument In favor of Marxism and against non-Marxism. As a result distinctions: which were earlier treated as absolute and which function throughout his Marxist period as the preconditions of his understanding of the relation of Marxism to bourgeois philosophy, are reinterpreted as differences not in kind but in degree.

Lukács ‘s relativistic reinterpretation of the distinctions upon which he earlier relied for his claim for the superiority of Marxist materialism over German idealism strongly affects the way in which he now argues, or even can argue, this point. Obviously, Lukács remains a Marxist, and Marxism is inconceivable without a basic commitment to Marx; but equally obviously, it is only possible to maintain the absolute superiority of Marxism over non‑Marxism if there is a distinction in kind between Marxism and non-Marxist philosophy. In now providing a relativistic reinterpretation of distinctions upon which he earlier relied to distinguish Marxism and non-Marxism, Lukács can no longer maintain the absolute superiority of materialism over idealism; at most he can argue that Marxism is relatively superior to its non-Marxist alternative.

Although Lukács continues to refer to non-Marxism as bourgeois thought, the term “bourgeois” now functions more as an indication of the economic strata to which an author belongs than as a designation for the intrinsic validity of a conceptual approach. At this point Lukács clearly relativizes the difference between non-Marxism and Marxism in various was. The chief example is his unprecedented admission of the essential continuity of Marxism with the earlier philosophical tradition in the quotation reproduced above. Now clearly the relation of Marxism to early philosophy, or even the philosophical character of Marxism, is an explosive issue. Hence, it is not surprising that, despite the loosening of his ties to Marxist orthodoxy in his study of ontology, Lukács is careful to attribute this idea to Lenin.

In fact, the view of the relation of Marxism to prior thought which Lukács adopts here closely resembles Hegel’s understanding of the relation of his own position to the prior philosophical tradition. According to Hegel, his own position carries further al l that is of positive value in earlier philosophy. Now Lukács has stature as a Hegel scholar. But it is clear that in his argument for the difference in kind between idealism and materialism, Lukács has consistently denied this Hegelian approach in earlier writings. In now stressing the sense in which Marxism takes up and carries forward the achievement of preceding thinkers., Lukács undercuts the supposed difference in kind between Marxism and prior thought.

Lukács also relativizes the distinction between reason and unreason, or rationality and irrationality. have already noted two forms of the distinction between rationality and irrationality in Lukács’s earlier writings: initially in his understanding of the relation of thought to the object of knowledge, and later as concerns theory itself. In his discussion of ontology, Lukács in part maintains the second view of irrationality. An instance is his description of the Hitler regime as a form of irrationality unhindered by any thought.[37] He also maintains his view of irrationality as the denial of the ontological relevance of reason, as illustrated in the views of the romantics.[38]

In connection with his view of teleological positing as the basic category of social life, in passing he now offers an interesting rethinking of the concept of social rationality which differs from the notion of so-called universal metaphysical rationality[39] In writings later than History and Class Consciousness Lukács consistently argued that capitalism is intrinsically irrational. Now returning to his initial Marxist perspective, Lukács insists that the view of social phenomena as intrinsically irrational, as inherently uncognizable, cannot be maintained.[40] According to Lukács after the fact, from the perspective of hindsight, the intrinsic rationality of historic& events is always perceptible. To put this same anti-Kantian, in fact Hegelian point in Kantian language, things-in–themselves are never uncognizable.

Lukács`s relativitats on of the distinctions mentioned now allows him to make a weaker claim for the relative, but not the absolute superiority of Marxism. From the angle of vision of an ontology of social being, we can infer that far Lukács Marxism is doubly advantageous. First, it provides the basis for a realistic, dialectical ontology which surpasses Hegel’s position. We can acknowledge that as a result of his dualistic reading of Hegel, Hegel’s view of ontology is both idealist and materialist, or realist. Hence, from Lukács’s vantagepoint Marx goes beyond Hegel through a selective rejection of one strand of Hegel’s ontology and an equally selective defense of another strand of the same theory. Second, Lukács maintains that Marxism provides, as noted, a theory of human development which can help bring human development about.

The change in Lukács’ understanding of the relation of Marxism to non-Marxism is linked to an important change in his view of Marxism. A dominant theme in Marxism since its inception is a quasi-positivist mistrust of philosophy. This is certainly one of the motives which has historically led to the ongoing effort by so many Marxists to break with orthodox philosophy, or even with philosophy itself. Lukács has never argued that Marx’s view is riot philosophy, although throughout his Marxist phase he stresses its scientific status.

In his study of ontology, Lukács is careful to recognize what he describes as the scientific aspect of Marx’s thought. This is that portion of Marxs position, mainly in relation to economics, where Marx supposedly goes beyond philosophy. But Lukács insists strongly, perhaps more strongly than in previous writings, on its philosophical dimension as well. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle suggests that his aim is not only to describe ethics but to motivate ethical behavior. Similarly, Lukács now argues for the social relevance of philosophy, in particular for the social relevance of Marxist philosophy. So at the end of his work, in a passage difficult to translate felicitously, he writes: “Accordingly, it is the turn back to social being itself as the unavoidable basis of any human practice, of its true thought, which will describe the freedom movement in all areas of life. This basic tendency as such can be foreseen philosophically. The principial impossibility of limiting in advance with philosophical means the concrete state of alreadyness of such movements as arise does not signify the powerlessness of Marxist thought in respect to such concrete qualities of real processes. On the contrary. Since Marxism is able to recognize the inner essence of a movement also in its simultaneous generality but from a different point of view, with the specificity of a singular process., it can adequately grasp the development of consciousness and concretely demand such processes …. This text aims to make such a method possible by a statement of this kind, by providing an indication of possible suggestions.”[41]

I can end this discussion with a remark about Lukács’s final view of the relation between the historical and systematic dimensions of philosophy. In his stress on the merely relative superiority of Marxism over non-Marxism, in his last stage Lukács is more willing than he has ever been to acknowledge the continuity between Marx and the philosophical tradition. As a result.„ for first time in his Marxist period Lukács is able to acknowledge that Marx’s position relates to the preceding philosophical tradition as other positions relate to their predecessors.

Here and earlier throughout his Marxist phase Lukács continues to stress the fact that Marx’s view emerged out of the philosophical tradition. Now this relation remains incoherent as most Marxists insist, prior philosophy is significant as an influence on Marx only, but not in itself. But this relation becomes coherent if Marx’s view is described as relatively, not absolutely, better than other philosophical theories. Lukács now concedes for the first time that Marx’s view never broke with, and always retained a link to, the prior history of philosophy, from which it differs in degree but not in kind. The result is to make it possible to comprehend Marx’s thought as another, further stage in the development of classical German philosophy. In the last phase of his reading of Marx’s position, by inference Lukács acknowledges the intrinsic connection between system and history in Marx’s thought which Marxists have always been concerned to deny.

But there is an important distinction between the recognition of the relation of a theory, any theory, to its historical antecendents, and the suggestion that theory is necessarily systematic. Although Lukács now accepts the former point, he continues to deny the latter point in relation to Marx. Hence, it is important to note that, as a consequence of his reading of Hegel’s position as an unconscious ontological dualism, he is unwilling to accept the concept of system as compatible with the concern with history. For Lukács holds that Hegel’s system arises on the basis of the first panlogical., abstract ontology, which is arguably incompatible with the second ontology concerning the real historical processes in terms of their intrinsic contradictions. it follows that for Lukács Marx’s position, which develops out of Hegel’s second ontology, is incompatible with the aim at system. He writes: “So system contains the ideal of philosophical thought which from the onset is incompatible with the ontological historicity of being and already in Hegel called forth insoluble antinomies.”[42] In sum, although Lukács was finally able to accept the continuity between systematic and historical aspects of the philosophical tradition, more precisely between Marxism and prior philosophy, he remained unable to accept the relevance of system as such for Marx and Marxism. In this sense, even his final move towards a reconciliation of historical and systematic aspects from the Marxist perspective arguably remained incomplete.

We can end this paper with a comment on the significance of Lukács ‘s final phase for the relation of philosophy and the history of philosophy. Since all thinkers either explicitly or implicitly depict their own positions as the only fully rational approach, by inference other, preceding views are less than fully rational. But with the possible exceptions of Aristotle and above all Hegel, the concern to learn from prior thinkers is rare in philosophical tradition. Marxism since its inception is characterized by the effort, widely present in modern philosophy, to disqualify other forms of philosophy as such. For Marxism as for other forms of philosophy, this effort depends on the appeal to a dualistic analysis of the entire conceptual universe in terms of a series of allegedly exclusive alternatives. But at this late date, as Lukács finally saw, it is simply unrealistic to hold that one’s own view is the sole source of truth and that other positions are irrational as such. In a word, &though at the beginning of his Marxist phase Lukács intended to be a revolutionary thinker, he was in fact following in the Marxist tradition and the tradition of modern philosophy in the effort to show that as rational Marxism breaks with &I prior thought which is irrational. But at the end of his Marxist phase., in the final stage of his thought, Lukács finally becomes a revolutionary thinker when he understands what Hegel already knew, that is, that in philosophy rationality is not a difference in kind, but in degree. Just as Hegel cannot deny the achievement of Kant’s thought, neither Marxism nor non-Marxism can reasonably deny each other’s contribution. In this respect, Lukács’s final phase represents a double achievement: On the one hand, he finds a way to assimilate the positive achievements of non-Marxism which has only rarely been equalled in non-Marxism. On the other hand., he demonstrates that systematic thought can, indeed must, build on the history of the philosophical tradition, since in philosophy rationality is not confined to one’s own position.

[1] For a more extended version of this analysis, see Tom Rockmore, Irrationalism: Lukács and the Marxist View of Reason, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

[2] Zur Ontologie des gesellschaftlichen Seins, edited by Frank Benseler, in: Georg Lukács Werke, Darmstadt and Neuwied: 1984, 1986., volumes 13 and 14. For another interesting part of Lukacs Nachlass, with a clear link to his study of ontology, see his posthumously published book, Demokratisierung heute und morgen, edited by Laszlo Sziklai, Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1985.

[3] For a good study of the work as a whole, see Nicolas Tertulian, “Lukács’ Ontology, in Lukács today. Essays in Marxist Philosophy, edited, with an i ntroduction, by Tom Rockmore, Boston and Dordrecht: Reidel, 1988, pp. 243-273.

[4] See ibid., p. 737.

[5] See loc. cit.

[6] For a criticism of Lenin and Luxembourg for a supposed failure to grasp the fundamental economic categories, see Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol. 1 3, pp. 234-235.

[7] See Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, volume 13, chapter 2, “Nikolai Hartmanns Vorstoss zu einer echten Ontologie,” pp. 421- 467.

[8] Die Erinnerung an die bedeutendsten Vorläufer scheint uns dennoch nützlich zu sein., schon weil aus ihr sichtbar wird, dass die Bedeutung des Marxismus nicht auf seinen radikalen Bruch mit bestimmten metaphysischen und idealistischen Tendenzen der bürgerlichen Philosophie baschränkt werden darf, wie das die Periode Stalin-Sc hda now verkündete, sondern um Lenins Ausdruck zu gebrauchen. darauf„ dass er “sich alles Wertvolle der mehr als zweitausendjährigen Entwicklung des menschlichen Denkens und der menschlichen Kultur aneignete und verarbeitete.” Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, volume 14, p. 397. Since there is no complete nor standard translation of this work, i will provide my own translation in the body of the text and the German original in the notes.

[9] For a representative work, see Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar, Reeding Capital, 2 volumes, translated by Ben Brewster, New York: Pantheon Press, 1970.

[10] See Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol. 13, pp.301 , 566-567, 606 n. 639.

[11] See Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol. 14, chapter 4, “Die Entfremdung, pp. 500-730.

[12] See I. Eörsi, Gelebtes Denken. Eine Autobiographie im Dialog, Frankfurt, 1980. The passages quoted are from pp. 235ff.

[13] “Nach Marx stelle ich mir die Ontologie als die eigentliche Philosophie vor, die auf der Geschichte basiert. Nun ist es aber historisch nicht zweifelhaft, dass das anorganische Sein zuerst ist, und daraus – wie, was wissen wir nicht , aber wann, das wissen wir ungefähr – geht das organische Sein hervor, und zwar in dessen pflanzlichen und tierischen Formen. Und aus diesem biologischen Zustand geht dann säter durch ausserordentlich viele übergänge das hervor, was wir als menschliches gesellschaftliches Sein bezeichnen, dessen Wesen die teleologische Setzung der Menschen ist, des heisst die Arbeit. Das ist die entscheidentste neue Kategorie, weil sie alles in sich fasst.” Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol. 14, p. 739.

[14] “Marx hat vor allem ausgearbeitet und das halte ich für den wichtigsten Teil der Marxschen Theorie, dass es die grundlegende Kategorie des gesellschaftlichen Seins ist, und das steht für jedes Sain, dass es geschichtlich ist. In den Pariser Manuskripten sagt Marx, dass es nur eine einzige Wissenschaft gibt, nämlich die Geschichte, und er fügt noch hinzu: “Ein ungegenständliches Wesen ist ein Unwesen.” Das heidst, eine Sache, die keine kategoriale Eigenschaft besitzt, kann nicht existieren. Existenz bedeutet also, dass etwas in einer Gegenständlichkeit von bestimmter Form existiert, dass heisst, die Gegenständlichkeit von bestimmter Form macht jene Kategorie aus, zu der das betreffende Wesen gehört. Hier trennt sich die Ontologie scharf von der alten Philosophie.” Ibid, vol 14, pp. 739-740.

[15] Setzen, which I have here rendered as positing, is a term difficult to translate into English. It is the German equivalent of the Greek tithemi, as in the term “hypothesis.” Setzen, as Lukács was aware, is a technical term in Fichte’s thought. For a discussion of the multiple meanings of this term in Fichte’ position, see Tom Rockmore., Fichte, Marx, and Classical German Philosophy, Carbondale and London: Southern Illinois University Press, 1980, pp. 13ff.

[16] See Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, New York and Evanston: Harper and Row, 1962, part 2, chapter 5: “Temporality and Historicality,” pp. 424-455.

[17] See Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins,, vol 13, p. 424.

[18] See ibid., p. 438.

[19] See ibid., pp. 450- 451.

[20] See ibid., p. 467.

[21] See ibid., part 1, chapter 3., pp. 468-558.

[22] See ibid., p. 469.

[23] Loc. cit.

[24] “Dieser “Dünger der Widersprüche” erscheint bei Hegel vorerst als die Erkenntnis der Widerspriichlichkeit der Gegenwart, als Problem nicht nur des Denkens, sondern zugleich als das der Wirklichkeit selbst, als primär ontologisches Problem, das aber weit über die Gegenwart hinaussweist, indem es als dynamische Grundlage der gesamten Wirklichkeit gefasst wird, und als ihr Fundament darum als das eines jeden rational ontologischen Denkens über diese.” Loc. cit.

[25] “[D]ie erste Vereinigung von dialektischer Abfolge und realer Geschichtlichkeit.” Ibid., p. 470.

[26] See ibid., p. 475.

[27] “Einerseits erhalten bei Hegel die echten ontologischen Zusammenhänge ihren angemessenen gedanklichen Ausdruck erst in den Formen von logischen Kategorien, andererseits werden die logischen Kategorien nicht also blosse Denkbestimmungen gefasst, sonder müssen als dynamische Bestandteile der wesentlichen Bewegung der Wirklichkeit selbst, als Stufen, als Etappen auf de Wege der Sichselbsterreichens des Geistes verstanden werden. Die prinzipiellen Antinomien also, die sich uns bis jetzt gezeigt haben und im folgenden zeigen werden, entspringen aus dem Zusammenstoss zweier Ontologien, die im bewusst vorgetragenen System von Hegel unerkannt vorhanden sind und vielfach gegeneinander wirksam werden.” Ibid., p. 483.

[28] For his critique of Kant’s unresolved dualism, see e.g. Enzyclopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, in G. W. F. Hegel, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, edited by Eva Moldenhauer and Karl Markus Michel, Frankfurt a.M.:Suhrkamp, 1971., vol 8, paragraph 60, p. 83: “In jedem dualistischen System, insbesondere aber im Kantischen, gibt sich sein Grundmangel durch die Inkonsequenz, das zu vereinen, was einen Augenblick vorher als selbstständig, somit als unvereinbar erklärt worden ist, zu erkennen.”

[29] Ibid., p. 503.

[30] See ibid., p. 485.

[31] He writes: “Die folgenden Betrachtungen über Hegel stehen also im Zeichen von Marx: Des Herausarbeiten seiner Ontologie, vor allem der des gesellschaftlichen Seins, dient dazu, um in intimen Zusammenhang und qualitativer Verschiedenheit, ja Entgegengesetztheit, die Stellungnahme beider grossen Denker besser zu beleuchten.” Op. cit., p. 513.

[32] See ibid., p. 37; cf. op. cit., p. 87.

[33] See ibid., p. 107.

[34] See ibid., p. 109.

[35] “Dieser Exkurs musste gemacht werden, um zu zeigen, dass die heutige Aufgabe der Marxisten nur sein kann: die echte Methode, die echte Ontologie von Marx wieder zum Leben zu erwecken, vor allem um mit ihrer Hilfe nicht nur eine historische getreue Analyse der gesellschaftlichen Entwicklung seit Marx’ Tod, die heute noch so gut vie völlig fehlt, wissenschaftlich möglich zu machen, sondern auch um das gesamte Sein, im Sinne vom Marx, als in seinen Grundlagen historischen (irreversiblen) Prozess zu begreifen und darzustellen. Deas ist der einzige theoretisch gangbare Weg, den Prozess des Menschwerdens des Menschen, das Werden des Menschengeschlechts ohne jede Transzendenz, ohne jede Utopie gedanklich darzustellen. Nur so kann diese Theorie jenes stets irdisch -immanent bleibende praktische Pathos wieder erhalten, das sie bei Marx selbst hatte, und das später – teilweise vom Leninschen Zwischenspiel abgesehen – theoretisch wie praktisch weitgehendst verloren ging.” Op. cit., p. 112.

[36] See ibid., pp. 112-113.

[37] See Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol. 14, pp. 694-695.

[38] See Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol . I 3, p. 468.

[39] See ibid., pp. 637-638.

[40] Lukács here follows Hegel ‘s view of the dependence of perceptual multiplicity upon the mind of the observer. See the discussion of perception under the heading of “Die Wahrnehmung oder das Ding und die Täuschung”, in G. W. F. Hegel, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, vol. 3, pp. 93-107, esp. p. 99.

[41] “Es ist also die Rückwendung zum gesellschaftlichen Sein selbst, als zur unaufhebbaren Grundlage einer jeden menschlichen Praxis, eines deren wahren Gedankens, die die Befreiungsbewegung von der Manipulation auf allen Gebieten des Lebens charakterisieren wird. Diese Grundtendenz als solche kann philosophisch voraussehbar sein. Die prinzipiele Unmöglichkeit, das konkrete Geradesosein so entstehender Bewegungen mit den Mitteln der Philosophie in voraus zu bestimmen, bedeutet allerdings nicht eine Ohnmacht des marxistischen Denkens solchen konkreten Qualitäten realer Prozesse gegenüber. Im Gegenteil. Gerade weil der Marxismus imstande sein kann, das prinzipbildende Wesen einer Bewegung auch in ihrer Allgemeinheit simultan., aber aus verschiedener Sicht, mit der Eigenart einmaliger Prozesse zu erkennen, kann er das Bewusstwerden solcher Prozesse adäquat erfassen und konkret fördern. [….] Für das Erwecken einer solchen Methode, die ein derartiges Erklären erst möglich macht, erstrebt diese Schrift einige, ein Wegweisen ermöglichende Anregungen zu bieten.” Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol. 14, p. 730.

[42] “So enthält das System als Ideal der philosophischen Gedanken, die mit der ontologischen Geschichtlichkeit eines Seins von vornherein unvereinbar sind und schon bei Hegel selbst unlösbare Antinomien hervorriefen.” Zur Ontologie des gesellschaflichen Seins, vol. I 3, p. 572.