Reason and Revolution

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Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory
Reason and Revolution (first American edition).jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Herbert Marcuse
Country United States
Language English
Subject Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 431 (1970 Beacon Press edition)
ISBN 0-8070-1557-1

Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory is a 1941 book by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, in which the author discussed the social theories of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. Marcuse reinterpreted Hegel, with the aim of demonstrating that Hegel's basic concepts are hostile to the tendencies that led to fascism. Reason and Revolution has received praise as an important discussion of Hegel and Marx.


Marcuse discusses the social and political ideas of Hegel,[1] and attempts to show that "Hegel's basic concepts are hostile to the tendencies that have led into Fascist theory and practice."[2] Marcuse criticizes the thesis, propounded by Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse in The Metaphysical Theory of the State (1918), that Hegel provided an ideological preparation for German authoritarianism,[3] making the case that Hegel was a revolutionary.[4] Marcuse also discusses the philosophical basis of Marx's thought,[5] and provides an account of Marx's notion of labour.[6] In an appendix to the 1960 edition, Marcuse states that the "only major recent development in the interpretation of Hegel's philosophy is the postwar revival of Hegel studies in France." Marcuse credits the new French interpretation with showing clearly the "inner connection between the idealistic and materialistic dialectic". He provides a list of key works, including Alexandre Kojève's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (1947).[7]

Scholarly reception[edit]

Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm praised Reason and Revolution in his Marx's Concept of Man (1961), calling it "brilliant and penetrating" and "the most important work which has opened up an understanding of Marx's humanism".[5] Historian Peter Gay described Reason and Revolution as one of the most important discussions of alienation in the scholarly literature on Hegel and Marx.[8] Jean-Michel Palmier saw the work as a rejection of Marcuse's Hegel's Ontology and the Theory of Historicity (1932), an interpretation of Hegel influenced by Martin Heidegger. Philosopher Seyla Benhabib criticized Palmier in her introduction to her translation of that work, arguing that while Marcuse pays much greater attention to Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1820) and Lectures on the History of Philosophy (1825-6) in Reason and Revolution than in his previous work on Hegel, "the concept of Bewegtheit, which characterizes the movement intrinsic to all being, is clearly at the origin of the concept of negativity" prominent in the former work.[9]


  1. ^ Singer, Peter (2001). Hegel: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-19-280197-X. 
  2. ^ Marcuse, Herbert (1970). Reason and Revolution. Boston: Beacon Press. p. xv. ISBN 0-8070-1557-1. 
  3. ^ Marcuse, Herbert (1970). Reason and Revolution. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 390. ISBN 0-8070-1557-1. 
  4. ^ Robinson, Paul (1990). The Freudian Left: Wilhelm Reich, Geza Roheim, Herbert Marcuse. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. p. 152. ISBN 0-8014-9716-7. 
  5. ^ a b Fromm, Erich (1975). Marx's Concept of Man. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. pp. ix, 74. ISBN 0-8044-6161-9. 
  6. ^ McLellan, David (1995). Karl Marx: A Biography. London: Papermac. p. 444. ISBN 0-333-63947-2. 
  7. ^ Marcuse, Herbert (1970). Reason and Revolution. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 420. ISBN 0-8070-1557-1. 
  8. ^ Gay, Peter (1986). The Bourgeois Experience Victoria to Freud. Volume II: The Tender Passion. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 458. ISBN 0-19-503741-3. 
  9. ^ Benhabib, Seyla; Marcuse, Herbert (1987). Hegel's Ontology and the Theory of Historicity. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. pp. xxxii, xl. ISBN 0-262-13221-4. 

External links[edit]