Lucien Goldmann

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Lucien Goldmann
Born (1913-07-20)20 July 1913
Bucharest, Romania
Died 8 October 1970(1970-10-08) (aged 57)
Paris, France
Alma mater University of Bucharest
(LL.B.)[1]
University of Vienna
University of Paris
University of Zurich
(PhD, 1945)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Continental philosophy
Western Marxism
Genetic epistemology
Institutions EHESS
Main interests
Epistemology, sociology
Notable ideas
Genetic structuralism

Lucien Goldmann (French: [ɡɔldman]; July 20, 1913 – October 8, 1970) was a French philosopher and sociologist of Jewish-Romanian origin. A professor at the EHESS in Paris, he was a Marxist theorist.

Biography[edit]

Goldmann was born in Bucharest, Romania, but grew up in Botoşani.

He studied law at the University of Bucharest and the University of Vienna under the Austromarxist jurist Max Adler.[1] In 1934, he went to the University of Paris to study political economy, literature, and philosophy.[1] He moved to Switzerland in November 1942, where he was placed in a refugee camp until 1943.[1] Through Jean Piaget's intervention, he was subsequently given a scholarship to the University of Zurich,[1] where he completed his PhD in philosophy in 1945 with a thesis entitled Mensch, Gemeinschaft und Welt in der Philosophie Immanuel Kants (Man, Community and world in the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant).

Thought[edit]

While many Parisian leftists staunchly upheld Marxism's "scientificity" in the 1950s and 1960s, Lucien Goldmann insisted that Marxism was by then in severe crisis and had to reinvent itself radically if it were to survive. He rejected the traditional Marxist view of the proletariat and contested the Structural Marxist movement. In fact, the popularity of such trends on the Left Bank was one reason why Goldmann's own name and work were eclipsed — this despite the acclaim of thinkers as diverse as Jean Piaget and Alasdair MacIntyre, who called him "the finest and most intelligent Marxist of the age."[citation needed]

He refused to portray his aspirations for humanity's future as an inexorable unfolding of history's laws, but saw them rather as a wager akin to Blaise Pascal's in the existence of God. "Risk", Goldmann wrote in his classic study of Pascal's Pensées and Jean Racine's Phèdre, "is possibility of failure, hope of success, and the synthesis of the three in a faith which is a wager are the essential constituent elements of the human condition". He called his work "dialectical" and "humanist."

He sought to synthesize the "genetic epistemology" of Piaget with the Marxism of György Lukács;[2] he was the founder of the theory of "genetic structuralism" which he developed in the 1960s.

Lucien Goldmann was a humanist socialist, disciple of György Lukács, his sociology of literature in an important critic of structuralism.[3]

Selected bibliography[edit]

In German[edit]

  • Mensch, Gemeinschaft und Welt in der Philosophie Immanuel Kants (University of Zurich, 1945). Doctoral thesis.

In French[edit]

  • Le dieu caché ; étude sur la vision tragique dans les Pensées de Pascal et dans le théâtre de Racine. Paris: Gallimard, 1955.
  • Recherches dialectiques. Paris: Gallimard, 1959.
  • Sciences humaines et philosophie. Suivi de structuralisme génétique et création littéraire. Paris: Gonthier, 1966.
  • Structures mentales et création culturelle. Paris: 10/18, 1970.
  • Epistémologie et philosophie. Paris: Denoël, 1970.
  • Pour une sociologie du roman. Paris: Gallimard, 1973.
  • Lukacs et Heidegger. Paris: Denoël-Gonthier, 1973.

English translations[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Martin Jay, Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukács to Habermas, University of California Press, 1984, p. 305–6.
  2. ^ "Genetic structuralism and the analysis of social consciousness"
  3. ^ Lucien Goldmann, a Dictionary of Sociology, 1998, Gordon Marshall, Encyclopedia.com

Further reading[edit]