Marcuse's critical theory of modernity

Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (9):1071-1093 (2008)
Abstract
Analyzing Eros and Civilization, in this article I argue that Marcuse is incapable of offering an account of the empirical dynamics that may lead to the social change he envisions, and that his appeal to the benefits of automatism is blind to its negative effects. I then claim that Marcuse's vision of the good life as centered on libidinal self-realization, if actualized, would threaten the freedom of individuals and potentially undermine their sense of self-integrity. Comparing Marcuse's position with that of Adorno, I argue that the former fails to take temporality and transience properly into account. Unlike Adorno, Marcuse has no genuine appreciation of the need for mourning. Instead, Marcuse's concept of primary narcissism, which is meant to represent the gist of his utopian vision, leads him to recommend an essentially melancholic position. I finally argue that political action requires a stronger ego-formation than what Marcuse's conception allows for
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Paul C. Taylor (2010). W.E.B. Du Bois. Philosophy Compass 5 (11):904-915.
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