Social Scientist. v 12, no. 131 (April 1984) p. 63.


Graphics file for this page

BOOK REVIEWS Review Articles

Destruction of Reason

GEORG LUKACS, THE DESTRUCTION OF REASON, Merlin Press.

GEORG LUKACS' The Destruction of Reason is a classic Marxist critique of philosophical irrationalism, and an account of its historical origins and role. Informed with great critical spirit and vision, it pole-micises against the major trends in reactionary bourgeois philosophy from the aftermath of the French Revolution to the present day. Lukacs began writing it when Hitler was still in power, ^and completed and published it at the height of the Cold War. The book was written with a certain sense of urgency as an earnest appeal to reason that was on the retreat in the intellectually murky Cold War atmosphere. Lukacs wanted his work to be taken as a voice of 'warning'. An immense contribution as it is to the intellectual history of Europe, the greater appeal of The Destruction of Reason stiH lies in the practical warning that Lukacs issues, and in the 'lesson' that he wants "every thinking person of integrity" to draw.

The Destruction of Reason traces "Germany's path to Hitler in the realm of philosophy"; the actual scope of the book is, however, broader, and the wider relevance of its analysis to many contemporary debates cannot be overstated. Lukacs, in fact, begins with a chapter on "Irrationalism as an international phenomenon in the imperialist period" and writes a long epilogue to examine the trends in post-War irratio" nalism, in which he discusses the significant modifications in the irrationalist heritage The main body of the book is devoted to the study of German irrationalism, as he considers Germany to be the original hotbed of irrationalism and its unchallenged international leader during the period 1848-1945. In doing so he goes into the specificities of the historical development of Germany and their relevance to the growth of irrationalism. He then goes on to discuss a range of philosophies and social theories 'logically converging with "the National Socialist outlook" of Hitler s^nd Rosenberg.

Lukaci begins with the assertion that philosophical developments cannot be viewed immanently. Problems, and the directions in which they may be resolved, are pos^d in philosophy by the ongoing social processes and class struggles. It is this social context which "lends philosophical ideas their real breadth and determines their profundity,



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page