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Lukács, Georg (1885–1971)

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-DD077-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD077-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved August 20, 2018, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/lukacs-georg-1885-1971/v-1

Article Summary

Lukács’ Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness) (1923) is, for both its intrinsic merits and its enormous influence, the most important work of Marxist philosophy to have appeared in the twentieth century. It sought to render explicit the dependence of Marx’s thought on Hegel’s dialectic as a means of elucidating both the distinctive character of historical materialism as a form of theoretical inquiry and its revolutionary rejection of the modes of thinking prevailing in capitalist society. Lukács’ general aim had been shared by the authors of the first philosophical reflections on Marx’s project – Engels and Plekhanov, for example, had stressed its debt to Hegel. Lukács, however, sought to draw Marx into that broad current of twentieth-century Continental thought which has drawn a sharp distinction between the methods of the physical sciences, suitable at best for analysing inanimate nature, and those of the human sciences, whose aim is to interpret human actions in the light of the thoughts which move them. Thus Lukács sees Marx as the theorist, not of the laws of the dialectic or of inevitable social transformation, but of revolutionary subjectivity, of the proletariat as ‘the identical subject–object’ of history. This was a version of Marxism which suited the times, in the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution of October 1917. As the revolutionary tides receded, Lukács found philosophical and political reasons for retreating to a more orthodox historical materialism which laid much greater stress on objective constraints and processes than his version of the early 1920s had. Yet the force of its overall argument and the quality of its individual analyses have made History and Class Consciousness a constant reference-point in subsequent discussions of Marxist theory.

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Citing this article:
Callinicos, Alex. Lukács, Georg (1885–1971), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD077-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/lukacs-georg-1885-1971/v-1.
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