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The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics
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The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Developing a concept briefly introduced in Counterrevolution and Revolt, Marcuse here addresses the shortcomings of Marxist aesthetic theory and explores a dialectical aesthetic in which art functions as the conscience of society. Marcuse argues that art is the only form or expression that can take up where religion and philosophy fail and contends that aesthetics offers t...more
paper, 108 pages
Published June 15th 1979 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 1978)
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Glenn Russell
In his book Eros and Civilization, Herbert Marcuse outlined his vision of a non-repressive society, where Eros is viewed as a liberating and constructive power and how throughout history we humans have had to fight against the repression of our instincts. And why are our instincts repressed? According to Marcuse, in our modern capitalist system this suppression is done in the name of progress and performance. Marcuse's philosophy of aesthetics is an extension of this worldview.

I would like to c...more
Marcuse has such a high opinion of art and art's potential that I was at times reminded, almost against my will, of Schopenhauer - although thankfully Marcuse sidesteps Schopenhauer's quasi-ecstatic mysticism and sees art as very much engaged with liberation. He also avoids arguing that all art has utilitarian obligations (or rather, he seems to argue that "art for art's sake" is an ethical use of art - it's a bit complicated). The book is also quite quotable.

On Oedipus Rex and eternal art:
اين مقاله را مي توان از مهمترين دستاورد هاي مكتب فرانكفورتي ها در زمينه ي زيبايي شناسي به حساب آورد كه البته اميد مهرگان هم اين مقاله را به همراه دو مقاله يديگر از آدورنو و بنيامين در كتاب ديگري ترجمه نموده است.
Benjamin Wetmore
What a ridiculous piece of trash.
Bill Quam
Another interesting analysis of the thoughts of the 1950's and 60's and how the masses were mislead on all sides about Marxism as a political process. Each side has effectively used the failures of their system to build up or tear down the movement.

As we look around our world today the main struggle of our world is still lost in disinformation about the best path forward for our world. Interesting really.
It was no "One-Dimensional Man" or "Eros and Civilization," but it was a quick and enjoyable read that got my brain working. While I do not agree entirely with the low value Marcuse places on pop art and popular culture (like his Frankfurt School/Critical Theory counterparts), I think his argument is compelling. From the first pages, when he writes, "[T]here may be more subversive potential in the poetry of Baudelaire and Rimbaud than in the didactic plays of Brecht," to the end, I was hooked an...more
Karlo Mikhail
Creates a "vulgar Marxism" that equates aesthetics with ideology, particularly the dominant ideology, as a straw man and proceeds to criticize it for valuing works of art only for its content. Marcuse presents art as transhistorical and representative of universal human values that is autonomous from prevailing class relations and social conditions. He then champions art as in-itself the key to demystifying the dominant order and therefore inspiring resistance to it. Marcuse should read Mao's Ye...more
I have a favorite quote from this book, that I share frequently in my classes:
"Art breaks opne a dimension inaccessible to other experience, a dimension in which human beings, nature, and things no longer stand under the law of the established reality principle...The encounter with the truth of art happens in the estanging language and images which make perceptible, visible, and audible that which is no longer, or not yet, perceived, said, and heard in everyday life."
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
I probably would have enjoyed this more if I knew more about Marxism, which I don't know a whole lot about. So ... a lot of this was confusing for me. But otherwise, it had some cool ideas in it and I found it interesting.
This book solidified my decision to study political theory. Art and culture are political, too! And the aesthetic (music, art)can speak volumes more than the political rhetorician. It inspires.
how are we supposed to rate these? book was well written, is/seems dated,

Review: "Don't get all romantic on me."
Austin Wright
Short and sweet, but honestly went over my head.
quite short, more of a long single essay than anything else, but the ending is very goof
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German-Jewish philosopher, political theorist and sociologist, and a member of the Frankfurt School. Celebrated as the "Father of the New Left", his best known works are Eros and Civilization, One-Dimensional Man and The Aesthetic Dimension. Marcuse was a major intellectual influence on the New Left and student movements of the 1960s.
More about Herbert Marcuse...
One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud An Essay on Liberation Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory Counterrevolution & Revolt

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“Inasmuch as art preserves, with the promise of happiness, the memory of the goal that failed, it can enter, as a 'regulative idea,' the desperate struggle for changing the world. Against all fetishism of the productive forces, against the continued enslavement of individuals by the objective conditions (which remain those of domination), art represents the ultimate goal of all revolutions: the freedom and happiness of the individual.” 9 likes
“Lucien Goldmann has stated the central problem of Marxist aesthetics in the period of advanced capitalism. If the proletariat is not the negation of the existing society but to a great extent integrated into it, then Marxist aesthetics is confronted with a situation where "authentic forms of cultural creations" exist "tough they cannot be attached to the consciousness -even a potential one- of a particular social group." The decisive question therefore is: how the "link is made between the economic structures and literary manifestations in a society where this link occurs outside the collective consciousness, i.e., without being grounded in a progressive class consciousness, without expressing such consciousness?” 0 likes
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