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Class & Economy as Practices of Power: Herbert Marcuse One-Dimensional Man Ch. 3, 5 & 6 The instrumentalization of man.

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Presentation on theme: "Class & Economy as Practices of Power: Herbert Marcuse One-Dimensional Man Ch. 3, 5 & 6 The instrumentalization of man."— Presentation transcript:

1 Class & Economy as Practices of Power: Herbert Marcuse One-Dimensional Man Ch. 3, 5 & 6 The instrumentalization of man

2 High culture is dead This is good: it was based in an unjust distribution of wealth and power This is bad: with it, another source of negative thought has been lost 2

3 The Great Refusal in Art Art is fundamentally about negation: – Literature and art were essentially alienation, sustaining and protecting the contradictionthe unhappy consciousness of the divided world, the defeated possibilities, the hopes unfulfilled, the promises betrayed. (61) To live ones love and hatred, to live that which one is means defeat, resignation, and death. The crimes of society, the hell that man has made for man become unconquerable cosmic forces. (61) – Romanticism 3

4 Refusal Refused Fiction calls the facts by their name and their reign collapses; fiction subverts everyday experience and shows it to be mutilated and false. (62) – The deliberate refusal of established ways of life (127) This incompatibility is the token of their truth. (60) – But now: What has been invalidated is their subversive force, their destructive contenttheir truth. (61) The absorbent power of society depletes the artistic dimension by assimilating its antagonistic contents. – Classics (64) Mass distribution good, but saps power 4

5 Refusal Refused The works of alienation are themselves incorporated into this society and circulate as part and parcel of the equipment which adorns and psychoanalyzes the prevailing state of affairs. Thus they become commercialsthey sell, comfort, or excite. (64) – He meant this metaphorically – All You Need is Love and car insurance 5

6 Sex & the Totalitarian In the realm of culture, the new totalitarianism manifests itself precisely in a harmonizing pluralism, where the most contradictory works and truths peacefully coexist in indifference. (61) – 31 flavors of teenage rebellion The death of punk Tolerance? As modern classics, the avant-garde and the beatniks share in the function of entertaining without endangering the good conscience of men of good will (70) The current society limits the scope of sublimation. It also reduces the need for sublimation. – Trades repression for a limited pleasure, which reinforces the one-dimensional unfreedom of society 6

7 The power of Eros While the liberation of sexuality lessens unhappiness, it also renders love, art, & sex non-critical. The sublimated sexuality gains power & focus beyond the body, It is beyond good and evil, beyond social morality, and thus it remains beyond the reaches of the established Reality Principle, which this Eros refuses and explodes. (77) – Love, sex, art – The Happy Consciousness is unaware that it is not free, that it is not capable of imagining a better, or even a different world. – That which was socially subversive now reinforces society 7

8 The Power of Negative Thinking …That which is cannot be true. What is real is rational – Reason = Truth = Reality – Reason is the subversive power, and the power of the negative that establishes as theoretical and practical Reason, the truth for men and things that is the conditions in which men and things become what they really are. (123) In their ESSENCE 8

9 Being = Truth. – A thing is most true when it is most itself – If man has learned to see and know what he really is, he will act in accordance with truth. (125) What does it mean to be human? Non-truth = a threat to truth, and thus a threat to being (destructive) – Thus, the struggle for Truth is for the salvation of Being from destruction But it is critical, and can itself appear destructive when it attacks an established reality as untrue. – Socrates vs. Athens 9

10 Negative thought is historically concrete Analyzed in the condition in which he finds himself in his universe, man seems to be possessed of certain faculties and powers which would enable him to lead a good life – a life which is as much as possible free from toil, dependence, and ugliness. To attain such a life is to attain the best life: to live in accordance with the essence or nature of man. (126) The telos of humanity – Humans look around themselves and ask, is this True? A response to the conditions in which one finds oneself 10

11 Negative thought is about truth Seen in the light of a truth which appears in them falsified or denied, the given facts themselves appear false and negative. – Example: Man is not (in fact) free, endowed with inalienable rights, etc., but he ought to be, because he is free in the eyes of God, by nature, etc. (133) Thus, the realization of truth involves a subversion of the established order, for thinking in accordance with truth is the commitment to exist in accordance with truth. – Platos cave 11

12 Abstraction But: the drive toward criticism, applied to thought itself, leads to its purification, the (apparent) permanent split between reason & historical practice. – Thus, the judgments passed on the given reality are replaced by propositions defining the general forms of thought, objects of thought, and relations between thought & objects. (135) 12

13 Prediction and Control Thus, formal logic (a + b = c): – Indifferent toward its objects Humans, blenders, economic principles treated by same rules – Non-contradiction the primary good – Eliminates conflict between appearance and essence a thing IS what it appears to be – Aimed at prediction and control – Non-transcendent (non-critical) in its very structure 13

14 Essence, negative truth cannot be operationalized – How could you demonstrate quantitatively that humans are those creatures which deserve a life which is as much as possible free from toil, dependence, and ugliness? Positive thought thus abandons the tension between is and ought New scientific truth which they oppose to the accepted one does not contain in itself the judgment that condemns the established reality. (140) Non-critical 14

15 New ontology The mathematical and operational become defined as truth, the only real rationality – Outside this rationality, one lives in a world of values, and values separated out from the objective reality become subjective. – Values may have a higher dignity (morally and spiritually), but they are not real and thus count less in the real business of life. (147) 15

16 New ontology The same de-realization affects all ideas which, by their very nature, cannot be verified by scientific method. (147) Humanitarian, religious, and moral ideas are only ideal; they dont disturb unduly the established way of life, and are not invalidated by the fact that they are contradicted by a behavior dictated by the daily necessities of business and politics. (148) – They become matters not of truth, but of preference 16

17 New ontology The unscientific character of these [critical] ideas fatally weakens the opposition to the established reality; the ideas become mere ideals, and their concrete, critical content evaporates into the ethical or metaphysical atmosphere. (148) 17

18 New ontology Under an unopposed formal & positivist thought, nature (the world, its objects and systems) and even human beings become understood in instrumental terms. – Power, efficiency, control – It is not technical society that produces this thought, but this thought that produces technical society – When technics becomes the universal form of material production, it circumscribes an entire culture; it projects a historical totality. A world. (154) 18

19 Technical thought is not neutral The scientific method of abstraction from concreteness, the quantification of qualities which yield exactness as well as universal validity is a specific method of seeing the world. In this project, universal quantifiability is a prerequisite for the domination of nature and of humanity. (164) 19

20 Technical thought is not neutral 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 nature has remained linked to the domination of man. It sustains and improves the life of individuals while subordinating them to the masters of the apparatus. (166) The process of technological reality is a political process, in which man and nature become fungible objects of organization. – In the scientific method, all things are to be analyzed, studied, and manipulated according to the same principles of thought 20

21 Technical thought is not neutral The social position of the individual, and the way that he or she relates to others, is determined by objective economic & political processes, laws that appear as calculable manifestations of (scientific) rationality. (169) – Laws of economics 21

22 What is Reason? What is rational? Can nuclear war be rationally chosen? For Marcuse, a strong, two-dimensional rationality is aimed always at truth and Being. This is the mark of the rational. In this light, to speak of the rational choice for nuclear war is only to highlight the basic insanity of technical society. 22

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