Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory
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It is of the very definition of any "classic" work that it will not only introduce a new depth and direction of thought, but that its original insights endure. When it first appeared in 1940, Reason and Revolution by Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was acclaimed for its profound and undistorted reading of Hegel's social and political theory. Today, the appreciation of Marcuse's work has remained high, more relevant now than ever before.
In the rapidly changing context of post-Cold War political realities, there is no better guide than Marcuse to where we have been and to what we might expect. As he well understood, turbulent and spectacular political events always ran within channels earlier set by political theory; and he equally understood that it was Hegel's often unappreciated and misunderstood theory which actually set a fundamental path of modern political life.
It is a fortunate combination to have a scholar of Marcuse's brilliance and lucid honesty addressing the sources and consequences of Hegel's social theory.
interwoven 2 in one bond .' . . Hegel's use of the Volksgeist is closely related to Montesquieu's use of the esprit ge'ne'ral of a nation as the basis its social and political laws. The 'national spirit' is not conceived as a mystical or metaphysical entity, but represents the whole of the natural, technical, economic, moral, and intellectual conditions that determine the nation's for historical development. Montesquieu's emphasis on this was directed against the unjustifiable re-
freedom and unity. He explicitly stated philosophical article. 'The need for philos- when the unifying power [die Macht der Verhas einigung] disappeared from the life of men, when the contradictions have lost their living interrelation and in- ophy arises 10 The terdependence and assumed an independent 'form/ force the he of refers to vital unifying harmony of speaks the individual and common interest, which prevailed in the ancient republics and which assured the liberty of the whole and
preserved in the whole. And, as we shall see, Hegel has here in effect taken the first step that leads to his identifying freedom with necessity, or submission to necessity, in his final system. 3. THE SYSTEM OF MORALITY At about the same time, Hegel wrote the first draft of that part of his system known as the Philosophy of Mind. This draft, the so-called System of Morality (System der Sittlichkeit), is one of the most difficult in German philos- We shall sketch its general
6 THE FOUNDATIONS OF HEGEL'S PHILOSOPHY the French Revolution was that mind and dared man came to rely on his submit the given reality to the standards of reason. Hegel expounds the new development through a contrast between an employment of reason and an uncritical compliance with the prevailing conditions of life. 'Nothing is reason that is not the result of thinkthe ing.' Man has set out to organize reality according to to demands of his free rational thinking instead of simply
dis- M Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, Logic of Hegel, trans. W. Wallace, pp. 374 f.). f Science of Logic, vol. 11, pp. 468-84. 837. Addition (The l66 THE FOUNDATIONS OF HEGEI/S PHILOSOPHY tinctions and relations of one comprehensive principle. is nature, and dialectical Thus comprehended, being thought passes on to the Philosophy of Nature. This exposition covers but one aspect of the transition. The advance beyond the Logic is not only the methodo- from one science