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New Left Review I/57, September-October 1969

Jerry Cohen

Critical Theory: The Philosophy of Marcuse

1. A vision dominates Marcuse’s career, explaining both his hope and his despair. It derives from German Philosophy of History, from which he appropriated the conviction that the history of humanity [1] scilicet European civilization. can be read as the result of a great project, drafted and executed by a single agency, mankind. The content of the project varies. Immanuel Kant thought it was a movement towards perpetual peace. Hegel replaced peace by liberty, and for him history was the growth in man’s awareness of his freedom. Marx accepted both ends, but subordinated them to a larger goal he thought would guarantee them: the conquest of and reunion with nature, which was once so hostile that men had to separate themselves from it and wage a long technological war that reproduced itself in battles between and inside men.

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Jerry Cohen, ‘Critical Theory: The Philosophy of Marcuse’, NLR I/57: £3

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