[OPE-L] Heideggerian Marxism by Herbert Marcuse

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Oct 10 2005 - 03:10:16 EDT

        Heideggerian Marxism
By Herbert Marcuse Edited by Richard Wolin and John Abromeit

The Frankfurt School philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) studied with Martin Heidegger at
Freiburg University from 1928 to 1932 and completed a dissertation on Hegel’s theory of
historicity under Heidegger’s supervision. During these years, Marcuse wrote a number of
provocative philosophical essays experimenting with the possibilities of Heideggerian Marxism. For
a time he believed that Heidegger’s ideas could revitalize Marxism, providing a dimension of
experiential concreteness that was sorely lacking in the German Idealist tradition. Ultimately,
two events deterred Marcuse from completing this program: the 1932 publication of Marx’s early
economic and philosophical manuscripts, and Heidegger’s conversion to Nazism a year later.
Heideggerian Marxism offers rich and fascinating testimony concerning the first attempt to fuse
Marxism and existentialism.

These essays offer invaluable insight concerning Marcuse’s early philosophical evolution. They
document one of the century’s most important Marxist philosophers attempting to respond to the
“crisis of Marxism”: the failure of the European revolution coupled with the growing repression in
the USSR. In response, Marcuse contrived an imaginative and original theoretical synthesis:
“existential Marxism.”

Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History, Political Science, and Comparative Literature
at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of, among other works,
Heidegger’s Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse and The
Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Poststructuralism.
John Abromeit is an assistant professor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division at the
University of Chicago. He is the coeditor, with W. Mark Cobb, of Herbert Marcuse: A Critical

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