Marcuse, Aesthetics, and the Logic of Modernity

Herbert Marcuse is a thinker associated with one of the most radical and totalising critiques of modernity ever produced. Marcuse maintains that contemporary capitalist society is a one-dimensional prison that is capable of perpetuating itself by incorporating any criticism into its logic. Despite this totalisation, Marcuse insists that the realm of aesthetics is capable of escaping the logic of modern capitalism and establishing an alternative society that is grounded in an alternative non-repressive logic. However, it is argued that not only does Marcuse ground this transformation in a specific economic formation thereby ensuring that it is economics not aestheticsthat grounds this social transformation, but his argument is based on a simplistic understanding of the relation between the aesthetic as a means of affecting individual transformation and the aesthetic affecting social transformation
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