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Reason and Revolution
Wed, September 30, 2015 @ 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM$75 – $95
An 8-Week course with Chad Kautzer
Herbert Marcuse (1889-1979) was one of the most influential critical theorists of the twentieth century. He was associated with the early Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany—later known as the Frankfurt School. After he emigrated to the U.S., Marcuse joined the war effort against Nazi Germany and taught at several U.S. institutions, including UC San Diego where Angela Y. Davis was his student.
In Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory (1940), Marcuse masterfully delineates the methodological foundations of critical theory and reconstructs the development of Hegel’s philosophy and its influence on Marx. He identifies and defends a form of critical reason, originating in Hegel, which is social, historical, and dialectical, and therefore in opposition to so-called positivist thought. “Reason is in its very essence contradiction, opposition, negation as long as freedom is not yet real,” writes Marcuse. “If the contradictory, oppositional, negative power of Reason is broken, reality moves under its own positive law and… unfolds its repressive force. Such decline in the power of Negativity has indeed accompanied the progress of late industrial civilization”.
In this eight-week course we will investigate this power of negativity and trace its path between reason and revolution in the Hegelian-Marxist tradition. Along the way, we will improve our understanding of several important concepts, such as alienation, materialism, idealism, recognition, the dialectic, and revolution. Any edition of Marcuse’s text will suffice for the course. Arrangements will be made for students who cannot afford to buy a used or new copy of the book.
Chad Kautzer is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver and a Visiting Research Scholar at CUNY Graduate Center. He has studied in Frankfurt, translated the work of Axel Honneth and Walter Benjamin, and is author of Radical Philosophy: An Introduction (Routledge/Paradigm, 2015). Currently, he is working on a manuscript titled Hegel and the Colonial World: From European Freedom to Decolonial Resistance. Chad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.