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The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath: Volume II
The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath: Volume II
Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHER REJECTS HEGEL AND MARX IN FAVOR OF DEMOCRACY, October 10, 2014
Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher and professor at the London School of Economics, best-known as a philosopher of science and of political philosophy. He wrote a number of books, such as The Logic of Scientific Discovery, The Poverty of Historicism, etc. The companion volume to this book is The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato. [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 420-page Princeton paperback edition.]

He charges, "Plato's philosophy, which once had claimed mastership in the state, becomes with Hegel its most servile lackey." (Pg. 46) He adds, "Hegel presents us with an apology for God and for Prussia at the same time, and whether it is not clear that the state which Hegel commands us to worship as the Divine Idea on earth is not simply Frederick William's Prussia from 1800 to 1830. And I ask whether it is possible to outdo this despicable perversion of everything that it decent; a perversion not only of reason, freedom, equality, and the other ideas of the open society, but also of a sincere belief in God, and even of a sincere patriotism." (Pg. 49) He continues, "Hegel knew that his task was to combat the liberal and even the imperialist leanings of nationalism... In our own time, Hegel's hysterical historicism is still the fertilizer to which modern totalitarianism owes its rapid growth." (Pg. 57, 59)

He states, "I shall briefly describe a theory which is widely held but which assumes what I consider the very opposite of the true aim of the social sciences; I call it the `conspiracy theory of society.' It is the view that an explanation of a social phenomenon consists in the discovery of the men or groups who are interested in the occurrence of this phenomenon (sometimes it is a hidden interest which has first to be revealed), and who have planned and conspired to bring it about. This view of the aims of the social sciences arises... from the mistaken theory that, whatever happens in society... is the result of direct design by some powerful individuals and groups... I do not wish to imply that conspiracies never happen... They become important, for example, whenever people who believe in the conspiracy theory get into power. And people who sincerely believe that they know how to make heaven on earth are most likely to adopt the conspiracy theory, and to get involved in a counter-conspiracy against non-existing conspirators... Conspiracies occur, it must be admitted. But the striking fact which... disproves the conspiracy theory is that few of these conspiracies are ultimately successful. Conspirators rarely consummate their conspiracy. Why is this so? Why do achievements differ so widely from aspirations? Because this is usually the case in social life..." (Pg. 95)

He warns against "the danger inherent in Marx's sweeping historicist generalizations," but adds, "On the other hand, his attempt to use what may be called the `logic of the class situation' to explain the working of the institutions of the industrial system seems to me admirable... at least, as a sociological analysis of that stage of the industrial system which Marx has mainly in mind: the system of `unrestrained capitalism' ... of one hundred years ago." (Pg. 116-117) He adds, "Such were the conditions of the working class... when Marx was writing Capital: A Critique of Political Economy; his burning protest against these crimes, which were then tolerated, and sometimes even defended, not only by professional economists but also by churchmen, will secure him forever a place among the liberators of mankind." (Pg. 122)

He observes, "I should like to characterize the point here reached as the most central point in our analysis. It is only here that we can begin to realize the significance of the clash between historicism and social engineering, and its effect upon the policy of the friends of the open society. Marxism claims to be more than a science. It does more than make a historical prophecy. It claims to be the basis for practical political action. It criticizes existing society, and it asserts that it can lead the way to a better world. But according to Marx's own theory, we cannot at will alter the economic reality by, for example, legal reforms... This, I think, is an extremely poor political programme, and its poverty is a consequence of the third-rate place which it attributes to political power in the hierarchy of powers. For according to Marx, the real power lies in the evolution of machinery; next in importance is the system of economic class-relationships; and the least important influence is that of politics." (Pg. 125-126)

He continues his analysis of Marx: "We see here why the cry, `Workers, unite!' was, from a Marxian point of view, indeed the only possible reply to an unrestrained capitalism. But we see, too, why this cry must open up the whole problem of state interference, and why it is likely to lead to the end of the unrestrained system, and to a new system, INTERVENTIONISM, which may develop in very different directions... It leads, under all circumstances, to an extension of the economic responsibility of the state, whether or not this responsibility is consciously accepted. And this means that the assumptions on which Marx's analysis is based must disappear. The derivation of the historical law of increasing misery is thus invalid. All that remains is a moving description of the misery of the workers which prevailed a hundred years ago... But in so far as it is meant as an historical prophecy, and in so far as it is used to deduce the `inevitability' of certain historical developments, the derivation is invalid." (Pg. 178-179)

He asserts, "I take it for granted that most people know with sufficient clarity what they mean when they speak of the `meaning of history' ... And in this sense... I answer, History has no meaning... I wish to make it clear that `history' in the sense in which most people speak of it simply does not exist; and this is at least one reason why I say that it has no meaning." (Pg. 269) He acknowledges, "I know that these views will meet with the strongest opposition from many sides, including some apologists for Christianity; for although there is hardly anything in the New Testament to support this doctrine, it is often considered a part of the Christian dogma that God reveals himself in history; that history has meaning; and that its meaning is the purpose of God. Historicism is thus held to be a necessary element of religion. But I do not admit this. I contend that this view is pure idolatry and superstition, not only from the point of view of a rationalist or humanist but from the Christian point of view itself." (Pg. 271) He concludes, "History has no meaning, I content. But this contention does not imply that all we can do about it is to look aghast at the history of political power, or that we just look on it as a cruel joke. For we can interpret it, with an eye to those problems of power politics from the point of view of our fight for the open society, for a rule of reason, for justice, freedom, equality, and for the control of international crime. Although history has not ends, we can impose these ends of ours upon it; and although history has no meaning, we can GIVE it meaning." (Pg. 278)

Obviously controversial, Popper's book is one of the most important works of political philosophy written in the 20th century.


The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath
The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath
by Karl Raimund Popper
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.71
95 used & new from $0.35

5.0 out of 5 stars THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHER REJECTS HEGEL AND MARX, October 10, 2014
Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher and professor at the London School of Economics, best-known as a philosopher of science and of political philosophy. He wrote a number of books, such as The Logic of Scientific Discovery, The Poverty of Historicism, etc. The companion volume to this book is The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato.

He charges, "Plato's philosophy, which once had claimed mastership in the state, becomes with Hegel its most servile lackey." (Pg. 46) He adds, "Hegel presents us with an apology for God and for Prussia at the same time, and whether it is not clear that the state which Hegel commands us to worship as the Divine Idea on earth is not simply Frederick William's Prussia from 1800 to 1830. And I ask whether it is possible to outdo this despicable perversion of everything that it decent; a perversion not only of reason, freedom, equality, and the other ideas of the open society, but also of a sincere belief in God, and even of a sincere patriotism." (Pg. 49) He continues, "Hegel knew that his task was to combat the liberal and even the imperialist leanings of nationalism... In our own time, Hegel's hysterical historicism is still the fertilizer to which modern totalitarianism owes its rapid growth." (Pg. 57, 59)

He states, "I shall briefly describe a theory which is widely held but which assumes what I consider the very opposite of the true aim of the social sciences; I call it the `conspiracy theory of society.' It is the view that an explanation of a social phenomenon consists in the discovery of the men or groups who are interested in the occurrence of this phenomenon (sometimes it is a hidden interest which has first to be revealed), and who have planned and conspired to bring it about. This view of the aims of the social sciences arises... from the mistaken theory that, whatever happens in society... is the result of direct design by some powerful individuals and groups... I do not wish to imply that conspiracies never happen... They become important, for example, whenever people who believe in the conspiracy theory get into power. And people who sincerely believe that they know how to make heaven on earth are most likely to adopt the conspiracy theory, and to get involved in a counter-conspiracy against non-existing conspirators... Conspiracies occur, it must be admitted. But the striking fact which... disproves the conspiracy theory is that few of these conspiracies are ultimately successful. Conspirators rarely consummate their conspiracy. Why is this so? Why do achievements differ so widely from aspirations? Because this is usually the case in social life..." (Pg. 95)

He warns against "the danger inherent in Marx's sweeping historicist generalizations," but adds, "On the other hand, his attempt to use what may be called the `logic of the class situation' to explain the working of the institutions of the industrial system seems to me admirable... at least, as a sociological analysis of that stage of the industrial system which Marx has mainly in mind: the system of `unrestrained capitalism' ... of one hundred years ago." (Pg. 116-117) He adds, "Such were the conditions of the working class... when Marx was writing Capital: A Critique of Political Economy; his burning protest against these crimes, which were then tolerated, and sometimes even defended, not only by professional economists but also by churchmen, will secure him forever a place among the liberators of mankind." (Pg. 122)

He observes, "I should like to characterize the point here reached as the most central point in our analysis. It is only here that we can begin to realize the significance of the clash between historicism and social engineering, and its effect upon the policy of the friends of the open society. Marxism claims to be more than a science. It does more than make a historical prophecy. It claims to be the basis for practical political action. It criticizes existing society, and it asserts that it can lead the way to a better world. But according to Marx's own theory, we cannot at will alter the economic reality by, for example, legal reforms... This, I think, is an extremely poor political programme, and its poverty is a consequence of the third-rate place which it attributes to political power in the hierarchy of powers. For according to Marx, the real power lies in the evolution of machinery; next in importance is the system of economic class-relationships; and the least important influence is that of politics." (Pg. 125-126)

He continues his analysis of Marx: "We see here why the cry, `Workers, unite!' was, from a Marxian point of view, indeed the only possible reply to an unrestrained capitalism. But we see, too, why this cry must open up the whole problem of state interference, and why it is likely to lead to the end of the unrestrained system, and to a new system, INTERVENTIONISM, which may develop in very different directions... It leads, under all circumstances, to an extension of the economic responsibility of the state, whether or not this responsibility is consciously accepted. And this means that the assumptions on which Marx's analysis is based must disappear. The derivation of the historical law of increasing misery is thus invalid. All that remains is a moving description of the misery of the workers which prevailed a hundred years ago... But in so far as it is meant as an historical prophecy, and in so far as it is used to deduce the `inevitability' of certain historical developments, the derivation is invalid." (Pg. 178-179)

He asserts, "I take it for granted that most people know with sufficient clarity what they mean when they speak of the `meaning of history' ... And in this sense... I answer, History has no meaning... I wish to make it clear that `history' in the sense in which most people speak of it simply does not exist; and this is at least one reason why I say that it has no meaning." (Pg. 269) He acknowledges, "I know that these views will meet with the strongest opposition from many sides, including some apologists for Christianity; for although there is hardly anything in the New Testament to support this doctrine, it is often considered a part of the Christian dogma that God reveals himself in history; that history has meaning; and that its meaning is the purpose of God. Historicism is thus held to be a necessary element of religion. But I do not admit this. I contend that this view is pure idolatry and superstition, not only from the point of view of a rationalist or humanist but from the Christian point of view itself." (Pg. 271) He concludes, "History has no meaning, I content. But this contention does not imply that all we can do about it is to look aghast at the history of political power, or that we just look on it as a cruel joke. For we can interpret it, with an eye to those problems of power politics from the point of view of our fight for the open society, for a rule of reason, for justice, freedom, equality, and for the control of international crime. Although history has not ends, we can impose these ends of ours upon it; and although history has no meaning, we can GIVE it meaning." (Pg. 278)

Obviously controversial, Popper's book is one of the most important works of political philosophy written in the 20th century.


The open society and its enemies, volume 1: the spell of Plato
The open society and its enemies, volume 1: the spell of Plato
by Karl Popper
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHER REJECTS THE “TOTALITARIANISM” OF PLATO, IN FAVOR OF DEMOCRACY, October 10, 2014
Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher and professor at the London School of Economics, best-known as a philosopher of science and of political philosophy. He wrote a number of books, such as The Logic of Scientific Discovery, The Poverty of Historicism, etc. The companion volume to this book is The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath. [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 361-page Princeton paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to the first edition, “If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not… to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men. Great men may make great mistakes… some of the greatest leaders of the past supported the perennial attack on freedom and reason… The book is a critical introduction to the philosophy of politics and of history, and an examination of some of the principles of social reconstruction… its object is not so much to popularize the questions treated as to solve them.” He further explains in the Introduction, “While engaged in the systematic analysis and criticism of the claims of historicism, I also tried to collect some material to illustrate its development. The notes collected for that purpose became the basis of this book. The scientific analysis of historicism aims at something like scientific status. This book does not. Many of the opinions expressed are personal. What it owes to scientific method is largely the awareness of its limitations.” (Pg. 3)

He admits, “I must therefore warn the reader not to expect a representation of the whole of Plato’s philosophy, or what may be called a ‘fair and just’ treatment of Platonism. My attitude towards historicism is one of frank hostility, based upon the conviction that historicism is futile, and worse than that. My survey of the historicist features of Platonism is therefore strongly critical. Although I admire much in Plato’s philosophy… I do not take it as my task to add to the countless tributes to his genius. I am, rather, bent on destroying what is in my opinion mischievous in this philosophy. It is the totalitarian tendency of Plato’s political philosophy which I shall try to analyse, and to criticize.” (Pg. 33-34)

He asserts, “Plato furnished Hesiod’s somewhat crude views of human history at once with a theoretical background and with a wealth of practical application. He developed a remarkably realistic historicist theory which found the cause of social change in Heraclitus’ disunion, and in the strife of classes in which he recognized the driving as well as the corrupting forces of history. He applied these historicist principles to the story of the Decline and Fall of the Greek city-states, and especially to a criticism of democracy, which he described as effeminate and degenerate. And … in the Laws, he applied them also to a story of the Decline and Fall of the Persian Empire, thus making the beginning of a long series of Decline-and-Fall dramatizations of the histories of empires and civilizations. (O[swald] Spengler’s notorious Decline of the West is perhaps the worst but not the last of them.)” (Pg. 55)

He argues, “Historically, all ethics undoubtedly begin with religion… [but] I only maintain that it is we, and we alone, who are responsible for adopting or rejecting some suggested moral laws… All kinds of norms have been claimed to be God-given. If you accept the ‘Christian’ ethics or equality and toleration and freedom of conscience only because of its claim to rest upon divine authority, then you build on a weak basis; for it has been only too often claimed that inequality is willed by God, and that we must not be tolerant with unbelievers. If, however, you accept the Christian ethics … because of your conviction that it is the right decision to take, then it is you who have decided.” (Pg. 66)

Citing a passage from Plato’s Laws, he observes, “Plato leaves no doubt that these same militarist principles should be adhered to not only in war, but also ‘in peace, and from the earliest childhood on.’ Like other totalitarian militarists… Plato urges that the all-important requirements of military discipline must be paramount, even in peace, and that they must determine the whole life of all citizens.” (Pg. 103) But he acknowledges, “Liberalism and state-interference are not opposed to each other. On the contrary, any kind of freedom is clearly impossible unless it is guaranteed by the state. A certain amount of state control in education, for instance, is necessary, if the young are to be protected from a neglect which would make them unable to defend their freedom… the important and difficult question of the limitations of freedom cannot be solved by a cut and dried formula.” (Pg. 111)

He states a crucial question, “How can we so organize political institutions that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?” (Pg. 121) He continues, “My claim is that every theory of sovereignty omits to face a more fundamental question…. whether we should not strive towards institutional control of the rulers by balancing their powers against other powers. The theory of checks and balances can at least claim careful consideration.” (Pg. 122) He adds, “the theory of democracy is not based upon the principle that the majority should rule; rather, the various equalitarian methods of democratic control, such as general elections and representative government, are to be considered as no more than well-tried and, in the presence of a widespread traditional distrust of tyranny, reasonably effective institutional safeguards against tyranny, always open to improvement, and even providing methods for their own improvement… And should we live to see the day when the majority vote destroys the democratic institutions, then this sad experience will tell [us] only that there does not exist a foolproof method of avoiding tyranny.” (Pg. 125)

He explains, “the magical or tribal or collectivist society will also be called the ‘closed society,’ and the society in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions, the ‘open society.’” (Pg. 172) He concludes, “The lesson which we thus should learn from Plato is the exact opposite of what he tries to teach us… his own development proves that the therapy he recommended is worse than the evil he tried to combat… We can never return to the alleged innocence and beauty of the closed society… There is no return to a harmonious state of nature. If we turn back, then we must go the whole way---we must return to the beasts… if we wish to remain human, then there is only one way, the way into the open society…. using what reason we may have to plan as well as we can for both security and freedom.” (Pg. 201)

Obviously controversial, Popper’s book is one of the most important works of political philosophy written in the 20th century.


The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato
The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato
by Karl Raimund Popper
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.98
87 used & new from $6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHER REJECTS THE “TOTALITARIANISM” OF PLATO, IN FAVOR OF DEMOCRACY, October 10, 2014
Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher and professor at the London School of Economics, best-known as a philosopher of science and of political philosophy. He wrote a number of books, such as The Logic of Scientific Discovery, The Poverty of Historicism, etc. The companion volume to this book is The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath.

He wrote in the Preface to the first edition, “If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not… to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men. Great men may make great mistakes… some of the greatest leaders of the past supported the perennial attack on freedom and reason… The book is a critical introduction to the philosophy of politics and of history, and an examination of some of the principles of social reconstruction… its object is not so much to popularize the questions treated as to solve them.” He further explains in the Introduction, “While engaged in the systematic analysis and criticism of the claims of historicism, I also tried to collect some material to illustrate its development. The notes collected for that purpose became the basis of this book. The scientific analysis of historicism aims at something like scientific status. This book does not. Many of the opinions expressed are personal. What it owes to scientific method is largely the awareness of its limitations.” (Pg. 3)

He admits, “I must therefore warn the reader not to expect a representation of the whole of Plato’s philosophy, or what may be called a ‘fair and just’ treatment of Platonism. My attitude towards historicism is one of frank hostility, based upon the conviction that historicism is futile, and worse than that. My survey of the historicist features of Platonism is therefore strongly critical. Although I admire much in Plato’s philosophy… I do not take it as my task to add to the countless tributes to his genius. I am, rather, bent on destroying what is in my opinion mischievous in this philosophy. It is the totalitarian tendency of Plato’s political philosophy which I shall try to analyse, and to criticize.” (Pg. 33-34)

He asserts, “Plato furnished Hesiod’s somewhat crude views of human history at once with a theoretical background and with a wealth of practical application. He developed a remarkably realistic historicist theory which found the cause of social change in Heraclitus’ disunion, and in the strife of classes in which he recognized the driving as well as the corrupting forces of history. He applied these historicist principles to the story of the Decline and Fall of the Greek city-states, and especially to a criticism of democracy, which he described as effeminate and degenerate. And … in the Laws, he applied them also to a story of the Decline and Fall of the Persian Empire, thus making the beginning of a long series of Decline-and-Fall dramatizations of the histories of empires and civilizations. (O[swald] Spengler’s notorious Decline of the West is perhaps the worst but not the last of them.)” (Pg. 55)

He argues, “Historically, all ethics undoubtedly begin with religion… [but] I only maintain that it is we, and we alone, who are responsible for adopting or rejecting some suggested moral laws… All kinds of norms have been claimed to be God-given. If you accept the ‘Christian’ ethics or equality and toleration and freedom of conscience only because of its claim to rest upon divine authority, then you build on a weak basis; for it has been only too often claimed that inequality is willed by God, and that we must not be tolerant with unbelievers. If, however, you accept the Christian ethics … because of your conviction that it is the right decision to take, then it is you who have decided.” (Pg. 66)

Citing a passage from Plato’s Laws, he observes, “Plato leaves no doubt that these same militarist principles should be adhered to not only in war, but also ‘in peace, and from the earliest childhood on.’ Like other totalitarian militarists… Plato urges that the all-important requirements of military discipline must be paramount, even in peace, and that they must determine the whole life of all citizens.” (Pg. 103) But he acknowledges, “Liberalism and state-interference are not opposed to each other. On the contrary, any kind of freedom is clearly impossible unless it is guaranteed by the state. A certain amount of state control in education, for instance, is necessary, if the young are to be protected from a neglect which would make them unable to defend their freedom… the important and difficult question of the limitations of freedom cannot be solved by a cut and dried formula.” (Pg. 111)

He states a crucial question, “How can we so organize political institutions that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?” (Pg. 121) He continues, “My claim is that every theory of sovereignty omits to face a more fundamental question…. whether we should not strive towards institutional control of the rulers by balancing their powers against other powers. The theory of checks and balances can at least claim careful consideration.” (Pg. 122) He adds, “the theory of democracy is not based upon the principle that the majority should rule; rather, the various equalitarian methods of democratic control, such as general elections and representative government, are to be considered as no more than well-tried and, in the presence of a widespread traditional distrust of tyranny, reasonably effective institutional safeguards against tyranny, always open to improvement, and even providing methods for their own improvement… And should we live to see the day when the majority vote destroys the democratic institutions, then this sad experience will tell [us] only that there does not exist a foolproof method of avoiding tyranny.” (Pg. 125)

He explains, “the magical or tribal or collectivist society will also be called the ‘closed society,’ and the society in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions, the ‘open society.’” (Pg. 172) He concludes, “The lesson which we thus should learn from Plato is the exact opposite of what he tries to teach us… his own development proves that the therapy he recommended is worse than the evil he tried to combat… We can never return to the alleged innocence and beauty of the closed society… There is no return to a harmonious state of nature. If we turn back, then we must go the whole way---we must return to the beasts… if we wish to remain human, then there is only one way, the way into the open society…. using what reason we may have to plan as well as we can for both security and freedom.” (Pg. 201)

Obviously controversial, Popper’s book is one of the most important works of political philosophy written in the 20th century.


The Logic Of Scientific Discovery
The Logic Of Scientific Discovery
by Karl R. Popper
Edition: Paperback
5 used & new from $11.98

5.0 out of 5 stars THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHER PROPOSES “FALSIFICATION” (RATHER THAN “VERIFICATION”) AS THE METHOD FOR SCIENCE, October 9, 2014
Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher and professor at the London School of Economics, best-known as a philosopher of science and of political philosophy. He wrote a number of books, such as The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to the 1959 English edition, “I… believe that there is at least one philosophical problem in which all thinking men are interested. It is the problem of cosmology: the problem of understanding the world---including ourselves, and our knowledge, as part of the world… Philosophers are as free as others to use any method in searching for truth. There is no method peculiar to philosophy… The central problem of epistemology has always been and still is the problem of the growth of knowledge. And the growth of knowledge can be studied best by studying the growth of scientific knowledge… I have tried to show that the most important of the traditional problems of epistemology---those connected with the growth of knowledge---transcend the two standard models of linguistic analysis and require the analysis of scientific knowledge… I am interested in science and in philosophy only because I want to learn something about the riddle of the world in which we live, and the riddle of man’s knowledge about that world. And I believe that only a revival of interest in these riddles can save the sciences and philosophy from narrow specialization and from an obscurantist faith in the expert’s special skill… a faith that so well fits our ‘post-rationalist’ and ‘post-critical’ age, proudly dedicated to the destruction of the tradition of rational philosophy, and of thought itself.”

He points out, “That inconsistencies may easily arise in connection with the principle of induction should have been clear from the work of Hume… For the principle of induction must be a universal statement in its turn. Thus if we try to regard its truth as known from experience, then the very same problems which occasioned its introduction will arise all over again. To justify it, we should have to employ inductive inferences; and to justify these we should have to assume an inductive principle of a higher order; and so on. Thus the attempt to base the principle of induction on experience breaks down, since it must lead to an infinite regress.” (Pg. 29) He adds, “the difficulties mentioned are not even touched by an appeal to probability. For if a certain degree of probability is to be assigned to statements based on inductive inference, then this will have to be justified by invoking a new principle of induction, appropriately modified. And this new principle in its turn will have to be justified, and so on. Nothing is gained, moreover, if the principle of induction … is taken not as ‘true’ but only as ‘probable.’ In short, like every other form of inductive logic, the logic of probable inference, or ‘probability logic,’ leads either to an infinite regress, or to the doctrine of apriorism.” (1, pg. 30)

He proposes, “the procedure of testing [of theories] turns out to be deductive. With the help of other statements, previously accepted, certain singular statements---which we may call ‘predictions’---are deduced from the theory; especially predictions that are easily testable or applicable. From among these statements, those are selected which are not derivable from the current theory, and more especially those which the current theory contradicts. Next we seek a decision as regards these (and other) derived statements by comparing them with the results of practical applications and experiments. If this decision is positive, that is, if the singular conclusions turn out to be acceptable, or VERIFIED, then the theory has, for the time being, passed its test: we have found no reason to discard it. But if the decision is negative, or in other words, if the conclusions have been FALSIFIED, then their falsification also falsifies the theory from which they were logically deduced. It should be noticed that a positive decision can only temporarily support the theory, for subsequent negative decisions may always overthrow it. So long as a theory withstands detailed and severe tests… we may say that it … is ‘corroborated’ by past experience. Nothing resembling inductive logic appears in the procedure here outlines… I never assume that by force of ‘verified’ conclusions, theories can be established as ‘true,’ or even as merely ‘probable.’” (3, pg. 33)

He elaborates, “I shall certainly admit a system as empirical or scientific only if it is capable of being TESTED by experience. These considerations suggest that not the VERIFIABILITY but the FALSIFIABILITY of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation. In other words: I shall not require of a scientific system that it shall be capable of being singled out, once and for all, in a positive sense; but I shall require that its logical form shall be such that it can be singled out, by means of empirical tests, in a negative sense: it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience.” (6, pg. 40-41) He adds, “I do not demand that every scientific statement must have in fact been tested before it is accepted. I only demand that every such statement must be CAPABLE of being tested; or in other words, I refuse to accept the view that there are statements in science which we have, resignedly, to accept as true merely because it does not seem possible, for logical reasons, to test them.” (8, pg. 48)

He explains, “A system such as classical mechanics may be ‘scientific’ to any degree you like; but those who uphold it dogmatically---believing, perhaps, that it is their business to defend such a successful system against criticism as long as it is not CONCLUSIVELY DISPROVED---are adopting the very reverse of that critical attitude which in my view is the proper one for the scientists. In point of fact, no conclusive disproof of a theory can ever be produced; for it is always possible to say that the experimental results are not reliable, or that the discrepancies… are only apparent and they will disappear with the advance of our understanding… If you insist on strict proof (or strict disproof) in the empirical sciences, you will never benefit from experience, and never learn from it how wrong you are.” (9, pg. 50)

He develops his proposal: “I propose the following definition. A theory is to be called ‘empirical’ or ‘falsifiable’ if it divides the class of all possible basic statements unambiguously into the following non-empty subclasses. First, the class of all basic statements with which it is inconsistent (or which it rules out, or prohibits); we call this the class of potential falsifiers of the theory; and secondly, the class of those basic statements which it does not contradict (or which it ‘permits’)… a theory makes assertions only about its potential falsifiers. (It asserts their falsity.) About the ‘permitted’ basic statements it says nothing. In particular, it does not say that they are true.” (21, pg. 86) Later, he clarifies, “I hold that what characterizes the empirical method is just this: that the convention or decision does not immediately determine our acceptance of UNIVERSAL statements but that, on the contrary, it enters into our acceptance of the SINGULAR statements---that is, the basic statements.” (30, pg. 109)

He notes, “our theory explains why simplicity is so highly desirable. To understand this there is no need for us to assume a ‘principle of economy of thought’ or anything of the kind. Simple statements, if knowledge is our object, are to be prized more highly than less simple ones because they tell us more; because their empirical content I greater; and because they are better testable.” (43, pg. 142)

This book was a true “HIGH WATERMARK” in the contemporary philosophy of science; it is “must reading” for anyone interested in such subjects.


The Mystery of Being 1 Reflection and Mystery (Gifford Lectures), First Edition 1950
The Mystery of Being 1 Reflection and Mystery (Gifford Lectures), First Edition 1950
by Gabriel Marcel
Edition: Hardcover
3 used & new from $48.23

5.0 out of 5 stars THE FIRST VOLUME OF MARCEL'S MOST IMPORTANT "SUMMATION" WORK, October 9, 2014
Gabriel Honoré Marcel (1889-1973) was a French philosopher, playwright, music critic and Christian existentialist. He wrote many other books, such as Metaphysical Journal, etc. This is the first of two series of Gifford Lectures given by Marcel in 1949 and 1950, at the University of Aberdeen; the second volume is Mystery of Being: 2. Faith and Reality. [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 270-page Gateway paperback edition.]

He states in the Introduction, "my tasks... could not be that of expounding some system which might be described as Marcelism... but rather to recapitulate the body of my work under a fresh light... above all to indicate its general direction." (Pg. 4) He continues, "When I look at or listen to a masterpiece, I have an experience which can strictly be called a revelation. That experience will just not allow itself to be analysed away as a mere state of simply strongly felt satisfaction. One of the secondary purposes, indeed, of these lectures will be to look into the question of how we ought to understand such revelations." (Pg. 12) He adds, "it may be that the role of the free critical thinker in our time is to swim against the current and attack the premises themselves... we must state, simply and flatly, that there do exist ranges of human experience where a too literal, an over-simplified way of conceiving the criterion of universality just cannot be accepted." (Pg. 13)

He explains, "We shall be starting off... from the double observation that nothing is more necessary than that one should reflect; but that on the other hand reflection is not a task like other tasks; in reality is it not a task at all, since it is reflection that enables us to set about any task whatsoever, in an orderly fashion... It may be, nevertheless, that this process of reflective self-clarification cannot be pushed to the last extreme; it may be, as we shall see, that reflection, interrogating itself about its own essential nature, will be led to acknowledge that it inevitably bases itself on something that is not itself... it may be that an intuition, given in advance, of supra-reflective unity is at the root of the criticism reflection is able to exert upon itself." (Pg. 47)

He observes, "we can say that where primary reflection tends to dissolve the unity of experience which is first put before it, the function of secondary reflection is essentially recuperative; it reconquers that unity. But how is such a reconquest possible? ... what we have to deal with here is an actual way of access to a realm that is assuredly as near to us as can be, but that nevertheless, by a fatality... has been, through the influence of modern thought, set at a greater and greater distance from us; so that the realm has become more and more of a problematic realm, and we are forced to call its very existence into question. I am talking about the self, about that reality of the self, with which we have already come in contact so often, but always to be struck by its disquieting ambiguity." (Pg. 102-103)

He suggests, "I AM my body in so far as I succeed in recognizing that this body of mine CANNOT, in the last analysis, be brought down to the level of being this object, AN object, a something or other. It is at this point that we have to bring in the idea of the body not as an object but as a subject." (Pg. 124) He notes, "contemplation, in so far as it cannot be simply equated with the spectator's attitude and in a deep sense is even at the opposite pole from that attitude, and even as one of participation's most intimate modes." (Pg. 152)

He states, "in the last analysis I do not know what I live by nor why I live; and that moreover, as a character says in one of my plays, perhaps I can only go on living on condition that I do not ask myself why I do. My life infinitely transcends my possible conscious grasp of my life at any given moment; fundamentally and essentially it refuses to tally with itself... the practical conditions in which my life unfolds itself force me... to attempt to make my accounts tally; but my sort of moral bookkeeping is of its very nature concerned with factors that evade any attempt to confine their essence or even to demonstrate their existence... The task of the profoundest philosophical speculation is perhaps that of discovering the conditions ... under which the real balance-sheet may occasionally emerge in a partial and temporary fashion from underneath the cooked figures that mask it." (Pg. 206-207)

He says, "I cannot speak of my life without asking myself what point it has, or even whether it points in any direction at all; and even if I decide that it is in fact a pointless business, that it points nowhere, still the very fact that I have raised the question presupposes the assumption that life, in some cases at least, might have a point." (Pg. 212) He adds, "We ought vigorously to reject any attempt to represent my life, or any human life at all for that matter, as a sequence of cinematic images... it is impossible that my life should reduce itself to a mere flow of images, and impossible therefore that its structure should be merely that of a succession... we have to acknowledge that our inner experience, as we live that experience, would be an impossibility for a being who was merely a succession of images." (Pg. 232-233)

He concludes, "one thing that we may feel that we have established in this first volume is that this process of getting an insight into something whose reality, by definition, lies completely outside our own. We have been forced to insist more and more emphatically on the presence of one's self TO itself, or on the presence to it of the other that is not really separable from it. And we have, in fact, real grounds for stating that we discern an organic connection between presence and mystery. For, in the first place, every presence IS mysterious and, in the second place, it is very doubtful whether the word `mystery' can really be properly used in the case where a presence is not, at the very least, making itself somehow felt." (Pg. 266)

Marcel's work is important for anyone studying Existentialism, or contemporary Catholic philosophy.


Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy
Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy
by Michael Polanyi
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.42
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5.0 out of 5 stars IS THE NOTION OF COMPLETE SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVITY A “FALSE IDEAL”?, October 8, 2014
Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) was a Hungarian-British chemist and philosopher; he wrote other books such as The Tacit Dimension, Knowing and Being, The Logic of Liberty, Science, Faith, and Society, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1958 book, “This is primarily an enquiry into the nature and justification of scientific knowledge. But my reconsideration of scientific knowledge leads on to a wide range of questions outside science. I start by rejecting the idea of scientific detachment. In the exact sciences, this false ideal is perhaps harmless, for it is in fact disregarded there by scientists. But we shall see that it exercises a destructive influence in biology, psychology and sociology, and falsifies our whole outlook far beyond the domain of science. I want to establish an alternative ideal of knowledge … I have used the findings of Gestalt psychology as my first clues to this conceptual reform. Scientists have run away from the philosophic implications of gestalt; I want to countenance them uncompromisingly. I regard knowing as an active comprehension of the things known, an action that requires skill… Such is the PERSONAL PARTICIPATION of the knower in all acts of understanding. But this does not make our understanding SUBJECTIVE.” (Pg. vii) He adds, “It seems reasonable to describe this fusion of the personal and the objective as Personal Knowledge. Personal knowledge is an intellectual commitment…” (Pg. viii) He reiterates, “The purpose of this book is to show that a complete objectivity as usually attributed to the exact sciences is a delusion and is in fact a false ideal. But I shall… [be] offering a substitute… this I have called ‘personal knowledge.’” (Pg. 18)

He explains, “The arts of doing and knowing, the valuation and the understanding of meanings, are thus seen to be only different aspects of the act of extending our person into the subsidiary awareness of particulars which compose a whole. The inherent structure of this act of personal knowing makes us both necessarily participate in its shaping and acknowledge its results with universal intent. This is the prototype of intellectual commitment. It is the act of commitment in its full structure that saves personal knowledge from being merely subjective. Intellectual commitment is a responsible decision, in submission to the compelling claims of what in good conscience I conceive to be true. It is an act of hope, striving to fulfill an obligation within a personal situation for which I am not responsible and which therefore determines my calling. This hope and this obligation are expressed in the universal intent of personal knowledge.” (Pg. 65) He suggests, “Thus to speak a language is to commit ourselves to the double indeterminacy due to our reliance both on its formalism and on our own continued reconsideration of this formalism in its bearing on experience. For just as, owing to the ultimately tacit character of all our knowledge, we remain ever unable to say all that we know, so also, in view of the tacit character of meaning, we can never quite know what is implied in what we say.” (Pg. 95)

He points out, “Another tenet of modern science which emerged at an early stage from its conflict with the Aristotelian and scholastic tradition is its idea of empiricism. Thought I dissent from this ideal in its absolute form, since I hold that the elimination of personal knowledge from science would destroy science, I acknowledge the decisive achievements of empiricism in opening the way to modern science.” (Pg. 153) He summarizes, “The attempt made in this book to stabilize knowledge against skepticism, by including its hazardous character in the conditions of knowledge, may find its equivalent, then, in an allegiance to a manifestly imperfect society, based on the acknowledgement that our duty lies in the service of ideals which we cannot possibly achieve.” (Pg. 245)

He admits, “This then is our liberation from objectivism: to realize that we can voice our ultimate convictions only from within our convictions---from within the whole system of acceptances that are logically prior to any particular assertion of our own, prior to the holding of any particular piece of knowledge. If an ultimate logical level is to be attained and made explicit, this must be a declaration of my personal beliefs… I must aim at discovering what I truly believe in and at formulating the convictions which I find myself holding: that I must conquer my self-doubt, so as to retain a firm hold on this programme of self-identification… the decision which I have now stated, to give deliberate expression to the beliefs I find myself holding, was duly anticipated all during the previous parts of this book. As I surveyed the operations of the tacit coefficient in the art of knowing, I pointed out how everywhere the mind follows its own self-set standards, and I gave my tacit or explicit endorsement to this manner of establishing the truth… This invitation to dogmatism may appear shocking: yet it is but the corollary to the greatly increased critical powers of man… I am seeking... to restore to us once more the power for the deliberate holding of unproven beliefs. We should be able to profess now knowingly and openly those beliefs which would be tacitly taken for granted in the days before modern philosophic criticism reached its present incisiveness.” (Pg. 267-268)

He reveals, “Only a Christian who stands in the service of his faith can understand Christian theology and only he can enter into the religious meaning of the Bible. Theology and the Bible together form the context of worship and must be understood in their bearing on it… While theological attempts to prove the existence of God are as absurd as philosophical attempts to prove the premises of mathematics or the principles of empirical inference, theology pursued as an axiomatization of the Christian faith has an important analytic task…. It can greatly help [Christians] to understand what they are practicing.” (Pg. 281-282) He continues, “the acceptance of the Christian faith does not express the assertion of observable facts and consequently you cannot prove or disprove Christianity by experiments or factual records.” (Pg. 284) He adds, “The stage on which we thus resume our full intellectual powers is borrowed from the Christian scheme of Fall and Redemption. Fallen man is equated to the historically given and subjective condition of our mind from which we may be saved by the grace of the spirit… we hope to be visited by powers for which we cannot account in terms of our specifiable capabilities. This hope is a clue to God…” (Pg. 324)

He summarizes, “We reach here the decisive issue of the theory of knowledge. Throughout this book I have … tried to demonstrate that into every act of knowing there enters a tacit and passionate contribution of the person knowing what is being known, and that this coefficient is… a necessary component of all knowledge. All this evidence turns into a demonstration of the utter baselessness of all our alleged knowledge, unless we can wholeheartedly uphold our own convictions, even when we know that we might withhold our assent from them.” (Pg. 312) He continues, “Such is man’s relation to his ideals: he can know them only by freely following them… I have shown how the values of science are rooted in the work of great scientists, and how our aesthetic sensibilities are developed likewise by the masters of music and painting… I have spoken of the moral passions which inspire our modern political dynamism, and … I gave some evidence of the deepening and purification of religious passions in our time… I spoke of the sustained passion for justice which has eventually secured the independence of law courts, and … I have shown how our appreciation of living beings and their various achievements are sustained by biology.” (Pg. 377)

He adds, “We can know a successful system only by understanding it as a whole, while being subsidiarily aware of its particulars; and we cannot meaningfully study these particulars except with a bearing on the whole… Therefore, to interpret systems that can succeed or fail in the more detached terms, by which we know systems to which no distinction of success or failure applies, is logically impossible. Systems that can succeed or fail are properly characterized by operational principles, or more generally, by certain rules of rightness; and our knowledge of any class of things that is characterized by a rule of rightness disappears when we attempt to define it in terms that are neutral to this rightness… Accordingly, it is as meaningless to represent life in terms of physics and chemistry as it would be to interpret a grandfather clock or a Shakespeare sonnet in terms of physics and chemistry; and it is likewise meaningless to represent mind in terms of a machine or of a neural model. Lower levels… define the conditions of their success and account for their failures, but they cannot account for their success, for they cannot even define it.”

Polanyi’s work has been cited by advocates of Intelligent Design; but even if one doesn’t agree with all of his positions, his emphasis on “


One-dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
One-dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
by Herbert Marcuse
Edition: Paperback
3 used & new from $4.24

5.0 out of 5 stars DOES THE PRODUCTIVE APPARATUS PRODUCE "ONE-DIMENSIONAL THOUGHT AND BEHAVIOR"?, October 8, 2014
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a German philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory, until he moved to the United States in 1934. (He was even briefly one of the "darlings" of the Student Movement of the 1960s.) He wrote other books, such as Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud.

He explains in the Introduction to this 1964 book, "One-Dimensional Man will vacillate throughout between two contradictory hypotheses: (1) that advanced industrial society is capable of containing qualitative change for the foreseeable future; (2) that forces and tendencies exist which may break this containment and explode the society. I do not think that a clear answer can be given. Both tendencies are there, side by side---and even the one in the other. The first tendency is dominant, and whatever preconditions for a reversal may exist are being used to prevent it. Perhaps an accident may alter the situation, but unless the recognition of what is being done and what is being prevented subverts the consciousness and the behavior of man, not even a catastrophe will bring about the change." (Pg. xv)

He argues, "in a specific sense advanced industrial culture is MORE ideological than its predecessor, inasmuch as today the ideology is in the process of production itself...The productive apparatus and the goods and services which it produces `sell' or impose the social system as a whole... the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers more or less pleasantly to the producers and, through the latter, to the whole. The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood. And as these beneficial products become available to more individuals in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life... Thus emerges a pattern of ONE-DIMENSIONAL THOUGHT and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe. They are redefined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension." (Pg. 11-12)

He states, "Indeed, society must first create the material prerequisites of freedom for all its members before it can be a free society; it must first CREATE the wealth before being able to DISTRIBUTE it according to the freely developing needs of the individual; it must first enable its slaves to learn and see and think before they know what is going on and what they themselves can to do change it. And, to the degree to which the slaves have been preconditioned to exist as slaves and be content in that role, their liberation necessarily appears to come from without and from above. They must be `forced to be free,' to `see objects as they are, and sometimes as they ought to appear,' they must be shown the `good road' they are in search of. But with all its truth, the argument cannot answer the time-honored question: who educates the educators, and where is the proof that they are in possession of `the good'?" (Pg. 40)

He observes, "Inasmuch as the struggle for truth `saves' reality from destruction, truth commits and engages human existence. It is the essentially human project. If man has learned to see and know what really IS, he will act in accordance with truth. Epistemology is itself ethics, and ethics is epistemology. This conception reflects the experience of a world antagonistic in itself---a world afflicted with want and negativity, constantly threatened with destruction, but also a world which is a COSMOS, structured in accordance with final causes. To the extent to which the experience of an antagonistic world guides the development of the philosophical categories, philosophy moves in a universe which is broken in itself... two-dimensional. Appearance and reality, untruth and truth, (and, as we shall see, unfreedom and freedom) are ontological conditions." (Pg. 125) He adds, "There are modes of existence which can never be `true' because they can never REST in the realization of their potentialities, in the JOY of being. In the human reality, all existence that spends itself in procuring the prerequisites of existence is thus an `untrue' and unfree existence." (Pg. 127-128)

He says, "The point which I am trying to make is that science, by virtue of its own method and concepts, has projected and promoted a universe in which the domination of man---a link which tends to be fatal to this universe as a whole. Nature, scientifically comprehended and mastered, reappears in the technical apparatus of production and destruction which sustains and improves the life of the individuals which subordinating them to the masters of the apparatus. Thus the rational hierarchy merges with the social one. If this is the case, then the change in the direction of progress... would also affect the very structure of science---the scientific project. Its hypotheses ... would develop in an essentially different experimental context (that of a pacified world); consequently, science would arrive at an essentially different concepts of nature and establish essentially different facts. The rational society subverts the idea of Reason." (Pg. 166-167)

He contends, "In the totalitarian era, the therapeutic task of philosophy would be a political task, since the established universe of ordinary language tends to coagulate into a totally manipulated and indoctrinated universe. Then politics would appear in philosophy, not as a special discipline or object of analysis, nor as a special political philosophy, but as the intent of its concepts to comprehend the unmutilated reality. If linguistic analysis does not contribute to such understanding; if, instead, it contributes to enclosing thought in the circle of the mutilated universe of ordinary discourse, it is at its best entirely inconsequential. And, at worst, it is an escape into the non-controversial, the unreal, into that which is only academically controversial." (Pg. 199)

The political rhetoric and tone of Marcuse seem seriously "dated," fifty years later. But his emphasis on freedom, and escaping the "one-dimensionality" of mass consumer existence, are subjects that are still very much of relevance today.


By Herbert Marcuse - One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (1st Edition) (9.1.1991)
By Herbert Marcuse - One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (1st Edition) (9.1.1991)
by Herbert Marcuse
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from $15.64

5.0 out of 5 stars DOES THE PRODUCTIVE APPARATUS PRODUCE "ONE-DIMENSIONAL THOUGHT AND BEHAVIOR"?, October 8, 2014
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a German philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory, until he moved to the United States in 1934. (He was even briefly one of the "darlings" of the Student Movement of the 1960s.) He wrote other books, such as Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud.

He explains in the Introduction to this 1964 book, "One-Dimensional Man will vacillate throughout between two contradictory hypotheses: (1) that advanced industrial society is capable of containing qualitative change for the foreseeable future; (2) that forces and tendencies exist which may break this containment and explode the society. I do not think that a clear answer can be given. Both tendencies are there, side by side---and even the one in the other. The first tendency is dominant, and whatever preconditions for a reversal may exist are being used to prevent it. Perhaps an accident may alter the situation, but unless the recognition of what is being done and what is being prevented subverts the consciousness and the behavior of man, not even a catastrophe will bring about the change." (Pg. xv)

He argues, "in a specific sense advanced industrial culture is MORE ideological than its predecessor, inasmuch as today the ideology is in the process of production itself...The productive apparatus and the goods and services which it produces `sell' or impose the social system as a whole... the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers more or less pleasantly to the producers and, through the latter, to the whole. The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood. And as these beneficial products become available to more individuals in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life... Thus emerges a pattern of ONE-DIMENSIONAL THOUGHT and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe. They are redefined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension." (Pg. 11-12)

He states, "Indeed, society must first create the material prerequisites of freedom for all its members before it can be a free society; it must first CREATE the wealth before being able to DISTRIBUTE it according to the freely developing needs of the individual; it must first enable its slaves to learn and see and think before they know what is going on and what they themselves can to do change it. And, to the degree to which the slaves have been preconditioned to exist as slaves and be content in that role, their liberation necessarily appears to come from without and from above. They must be `forced to be free,' to `see objects as they are, and sometimes as they ought to appear,' they must be shown the `good road' they are in search of. But with all its truth, the argument cannot answer the time-honored question: who educates the educators, and where is the proof that they are in possession of `the good'?" (Pg. 40)

He observes, "Inasmuch as the struggle for truth `saves' reality from destruction, truth commits and engages human existence. It is the essentially human project. If man has learned to see and know what really IS, he will act in accordance with truth. Epistemology is itself ethics, and ethics is epistemology. This conception reflects the experience of a world antagonistic in itself---a world afflicted with want and negativity, constantly threatened with destruction, but also a world which is a COSMOS, structured in accordance with final causes. To the extent to which the experience of an antagonistic world guides the development of the philosophical categories, philosophy moves in a universe which is broken in itself... two-dimensional. Appearance and reality, untruth and truth, (and, as we shall see, unfreedom and freedom) are ontological conditions." (Pg. 125) He adds, "There are modes of existence which can never be `true' because they can never REST in the realization of their potentialities, in the JOY of being. In the human reality, all existence that spends itself in procuring the prerequisites of existence is thus an `untrue' and unfree existence." (Pg. 127-128)

He says, "The point which I am trying to make is that science, by virtue of its own method and concepts, has projected and promoted a universe in which the domination of man---a link which tends to be fatal to this universe as a whole. Nature, scientifically comprehended and mastered, reappears in the technical apparatus of production and destruction which sustains and improves the life of the individuals which subordinating them to the masters of the apparatus. Thus the rational hierarchy merges with the social one. If this is the case, then the change in the direction of progress... would also affect the very structure of science---the scientific project. Its hypotheses ... would develop in an essentially different experimental context (that of a pacified world); consequently, science would arrive at an essentially different concepts of nature and establish essentially different facts. The rational society subverts the idea of Reason." (Pg. 166-167)

He contends, "In the totalitarian era, the therapeutic task of philosophy would be a political task, since the established universe of ordinary language tends to coagulate into a totally manipulated and indoctrinated universe. Then politics would appear in philosophy, not as a special discipline or object of analysis, nor as a special political philosophy, but as the intent of its concepts to comprehend the unmutilated reality. If linguistic analysis does not contribute to such understanding; if, instead, it contributes to enclosing thought in the circle of the mutilated universe of ordinary discourse, it is at its best entirely inconsequential. And, at worst, it is an escape into the non-controversial, the unreal, into that which is only academically controversial." (Pg. 199)

The political rhetoric and tone of Marcuse seem seriously "dated," fifty years later. But his emphasis on freedom, and escaping the "one-dimensionality" of mass consumer existence, are subjects that are still very much of relevance today.


One - Dimensional Man: Studiesin the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
One - Dimensional Man: Studiesin the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
by Herbert Marcuse
Edition: Paperback
5 used & new from $7.50

5.0 out of 5 stars DOES THE PRODUCTIVE APPARATUS PRODUCE "ONE-DIMENSIONAL THOUGHT AND BEHAVIOR"?, October 8, 2014
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a German philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory, until he moved to the United States in 1934. (He was even briefly one of the "darlings" of the Student Movement of the 1960s.) He wrote other books, such as Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud.

He explains in the Introduction to this 1964 book, "One-Dimensional Man will vacillate throughout between two contradictory hypotheses: (1) that advanced industrial society is capable of containing qualitative change for the foreseeable future; (2) that forces and tendencies exist which may break this containment and explode the society. I do not think that a clear answer can be given. Both tendencies are there, side by side---and even the one in the other. The first tendency is dominant, and whatever preconditions for a reversal may exist are being used to prevent it. Perhaps an accident may alter the situation, but unless the recognition of what is being done and what is being prevented subverts the consciousness and the behavior of man, not even a catastrophe will bring about the change." (Pg. xv)

He argues, "in a specific sense advanced industrial culture is MORE ideological than its predecessor, inasmuch as today the ideology is in the process of production itself...The productive apparatus and the goods and services which it produces `sell' or impose the social system as a whole... the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers more or less pleasantly to the producers and, through the latter, to the whole. The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood. And as these beneficial products become available to more individuals in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life... Thus emerges a pattern of ONE-DIMENSIONAL THOUGHT and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe. They are redefined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension." (Pg. 11-12)

He states, "Indeed, society must first create the material prerequisites of freedom for all its members before it can be a free society; it must first CREATE the wealth before being able to DISTRIBUTE it according to the freely developing needs of the individual; it must first enable its slaves to learn and see and think before they know what is going on and what they themselves can to do change it. And, to the degree to which the slaves have been preconditioned to exist as slaves and be content in that role, their liberation necessarily appears to come from without and from above. They must be `forced to be free,' to `see objects as they are, and sometimes as they ought to appear,' they must be shown the `good road' they are in search of. But with all its truth, the argument cannot answer the time-honored question: who educates the educators, and where is the proof that they are in possession of `the good'?" (Pg. 40)

He observes, "Inasmuch as the struggle for truth `saves' reality from destruction, truth commits and engages human existence. It is the essentially human project. If man has learned to see and know what really IS, he will act in accordance with truth. Epistemology is itself ethics, and ethics is epistemology. This conception reflects the experience of a world antagonistic in itself---a world afflicted with want and negativity, constantly threatened with destruction, but also a world which is a COSMOS, structured in accordance with final causes. To the extent to which the experience of an antagonistic world guides the development of the philosophical categories, philosophy moves in a universe which is broken in itself... two-dimensional. Appearance and reality, untruth and truth, (and, as we shall see, unfreedom and freedom) are ontological conditions." (Pg. 125) He adds, "There are modes of existence which can never be `true' because they can never REST in the realization of their potentialities, in the JOY of being. In the human reality, all existence that spends itself in procuring the prerequisites of existence is thus an `untrue' and unfree existence." (Pg. 127-128)

He says, "The point which I am trying to make is that science, by virtue of its own method and concepts, has projected and promoted a universe in which the domination of man---a link which tends to be fatal to this universe as a whole. Nature, scientifically comprehended and mastered, reappears in the technical apparatus of production and destruction which sustains and improves the life of the individuals which subordinating them to the masters of the apparatus. Thus the rational hierarchy merges with the social one. If this is the case, then the change in the direction of progress... would also affect the very structure of science---the scientific project. Its hypotheses ... would develop in an essentially different experimental context (that of a pacified world); consequently, science would arrive at an essentially different concepts of nature and establish essentially different facts. The rational society subverts the idea of Reason." (Pg. 166-167)

He contends, "In the totalitarian era, the therapeutic task of philosophy would be a political task, since the established universe of ordinary language tends to coagulate into a totally manipulated and indoctrinated universe. Then politics would appear in philosophy, not as a special discipline or object of analysis, nor as a special political philosophy, but as the intent of its concepts to comprehend the unmutilated reality. If linguistic analysis does not contribute to such understanding; if, instead, it contributes to enclosing thought in the circle of the mutilated universe of ordinary discourse, it is at its best entirely inconsequential. And, at worst, it is an escape into the non-controversial, the unreal, into that which is only academically controversial." (Pg. 199)

The political rhetoric and tone of Marcuse seem seriously "dated," fifty years later. But his emphasis on freedom, and escaping the "one-dimensionality" of mass consumer existence, are subjects that are still very much of relevance today.


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