Lucien Goldmann

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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. He was born in Bucharest, Romania, grew up in Botoşani, and died in Paris.

Goldmann's thinking[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 structuralist 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;[1] 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.[2]

Selected bibliography[edit]

In German[edit]

  • Mensch, Gemeinschaft und Welt in der Philosophie Immanuel Kants (University of Zürich, 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]

Further reading[edit]