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New Left Review I/110, July-August 1978

Georg Lukács

On Bertolt Brecht


In the realm of aesthetics, the way a thing is expressed is of a qualitatively different order from what it would be in science. No one will deny that even in science a statement can be made in a clear or confused, an elegant or a laboured manner, etc., and that depending on this the method of presentation can accelerate, impede or retard the acceptance of novel ideas. But it would be misguided to see in this any justification for the sort of analogy between science and aesthetics often put forward nowadays, as a reaction to works of art lacking in content and appealing solely to the feelings. The aestheticization of science and philosophy in the Romantic movement, and again at the end of the nineteenth century, sprang from diametrically opposed motives, but begs the actual question in similar manner. The view dominant today is expressed as follows by Bertolt Brecht in his Short Organon for the Theatre: ‘Today it would even be possible to compile an aesthetics of the exact sciences. Galileo himself already spoke of the elegance of certain formulae, and of experiments as having a witty point. Einstein suggests that the sense of beauty has a function in scientific discovery. And the nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer praises the scientific attitude because “it has its own kind of beauty and appears highly appropriate to man’s position on earth”.’ [11] Bertolt Brecht, Versuche, 12, Berlin 1953, p. 110.

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Georg Lukacs, ‘On Bertolt Brecht’, NLR I/110: £3

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