Marcuse: "This is not 'existentialism'."

"Thought as such is an act of negation."
—Theodor Adorno
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class="first">Marcuse: "This is not 'existentialism'."

Post by HerbM » Tue Nov 10, 2020 7:48 am

My copy of Marcuse's Reason & Revolution is a reprint of the original 1941 version, so I was surprised to learn that in 1960 Marcuse wrote a new preface for the book called "A Note on Dialectic", which I had never seen before. If your copy of R & R doesn't have it, the essay has been collected in The Essential Marcuse edited by Andrew Feenberg & William Leiss.
I was reading it today and came across...
He quotes the poet Paul Valéry:
"In short, thought is the labor which brings to life in us that which does not exist."
"What are we without the help of that which does not exist?"
It is this, he says, that is not "existentialism", continuing:
It is something more vital and more desperate: the effort to contradict a reality in which all logic and all speech are false to the extent that they are part of a mutilated whole. The vocabulary and grammar of the language of contradiction are still those of the game (there are no others), but the concepts codified in the language of the games are redefined by relating them to their "determinate negation".
Farther down in the same paragraph I laughed out loud when I read this passage:
"dialectical contradiction ["determinate negation"] is distinguished from all pseudo- and crackpot opposition, beatnik and hipsterisrn. The negation is-determinate if it refers the established state of affairs to the basic factors and forces which make for its destructiveness, as well as for the possible alternatives beyond the status quo.

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