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EPZ Eclipse of Reason (Continuum Impacts) Paperback – January 25, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0826477934 ISBN-10: 0826477933

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Product Details

  • Series: Continuum Impacts
  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (January 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826477933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826477934
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,874,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Max Horkheimer, founder and long-time director of the famous Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, was professor emeritus of philosophy and sociology at the University of Frankfurt until his death in 1973. He is one of the founders of the Frankfurt School.

Customer Reviews

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"Progress threatens to nullify the very goal it is supposed to realize - the idea of man" (v).
benjamin
There is very little about the process of the globalization of world capital that would surprise Horkheimer, and there is a great deal that he foresaw.
not a natural
If people use true reason to critique their societies, they will be able to identify and solve their problems.
fmeursault@yahoo.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By benjamin on June 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Despite its compact size, Max Horkheimer's Eclipse of Reason is a potent manifesto against the instrumentalization of Reason in the Enlightenment, which led to a culture in which the most barbaric of acts - the Holocaust, with all of its mediatized manipulation under the Nazis - could take place. At points a whirlwind tour through some of the major trends in intellectual history since Plato, The Eclipse of Reason can be as dense as it is potent. It will reward only a close and careful reading.

"Progress threatens to nullify the very goal it is supposed to realize - the idea of man" (v). This sentence, contained in the Preface, concisely states the main concern that animates the entire book. The Enlightenment comes in for heavy critique throughout these pages, for in separating reason from religion it "retained God, but not grace" (11) and effectively killed metaphysics. Having cut itself off from any notion of a grounding worldview, it finds its ultimate expression in the development of the American worldview, as best expressed in the only philosophical movement to have ever grown up out of America's own soil: Pragmatism, which Horkheimer writes "reflects a society that has no time to remember and meditate" (30).

The lack of time and transcendence - the lack of any fundamental notion of Truth, which is fundamental to American liberalism - helps undermine any and all notions of beauty as a revealing of Truth. The reduction of everything to mere practicality robs humanity of something fundamental to it, which is contained in the work of art: seeing something beyond ourselves, outside of ourselves. Practicality reduces everything to a mere tool: and this is the essence of totalitarian violence.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By fmeursault@yahoo.com on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Horkheimer's book, Eclipse of Reason deals with the concept of "reason" within the history of Western philosophy. Horkheimer defines true reason as rationality. He details the difference between objective and subjective reason and states that we have moved from objective to subjective. Objective reason deals with universal truths that dictate that an action is either right or wrong. Subjective reason takes into account the situation and social norms. Actions that produce the best situation for the individual are "reasonable" according to subjective reason. The movement from one type of reason to the other occurred when thought could no longer accommodate these objective truths or when it judged them to be delusions. Under subjective reason, concepts lose their meaning. All concepts must be strictly functional to be reasonable. Because subjective reason rules, the ideals of a society, for example democratic ideals, become dependent on the "interests" of the people instead of being dependent on objective truths.
Horkheimer is writing in 1946 and is influenced by Nazi power in Germany. He is outlining how the Nazis were able to make their agenda appear "reasonable". He is also issuing a warning against this happening again. Horkheimer believes that the ills of modern society are caused by the misuse and misunderstanding of reason. If people use true reason to critique their societies, they will be able to identify and solve their problems.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By not a natural on August 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
American pragmatism is a philosophical movement that I have long admired. In particular, John Dewey's book The Public and Its Problems and George Herbert Mead's lectures reported in Mind, Self, and Society are both conceptually original and analytically brilliant. The have relatively painlessly given me the intellectual wherewithal to make sense of aspects of our shared world that previously eluded me. Neither book is perfect, but both merit reading and re-reading.

However, until I read Max Horkheimer's Eclipse of Reason, I was completely oblivious to a serious limitation shared by Dewey, Mead, and the rest of the pragmatists, a limitation that is becoming increasingly pervasive and deep-rooted among the rest of us, perhaps most conspicuously in American society. Specifically, the philosophical notion of reason has more and more been reduced to what Horkheimer terms subjective reason, while objective reason has become the victim of exacerbated neglect.

This assertion is not difficult to understand when Horkheimer explains that subjective reason refers to the predictive relationship between means and ends, and has little or no interest in the intrinsic character of either, while objective reason focuses on the things themselves, inquiring first and foremost as to their value. Subjective reason, it is easy to see, is the instrument of those with a practical bent, people, groups, nations, and classes who are interested in production of one thing from another. Thus, automobiles are produced from hundreds of parts manufactured in a broad range of factories that may be located in places that virtually span the globe. The parts themselves, moreover, are manufactured from raw materials that may be similarly diverse in their origins.
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Straight up Frankfurt-school-critique goodness. Some of the specific and sustained interpretive moments feel quite dated and uninspiring, but Horkheimer must be credited for putting into focus the nature of a technocratic positivist pursuit of means w/out any deeper end or purpose, without reference to some principle outside of our mere subjective wants (i.e., his concept of "objective reason")--it is, I think, a decisive description of the dominant mode of activity and organization in our moment of neoliberal or multi-national capitalism. What is the purpose of endless growth?
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