CSS republishes the following, with the intention of publicizing part of a debate within the decaying corridors of academia, between Abromeit – co-editor of the text ‘Heideggerian Marxism’ – and Feenberg and Wolin. The latter, in the view of Abromeit, are of the view that Marcuse is best categorized as a ‘Left-Heideggerian’, whereas Abromeit places Marcuse in the Marxian tradition. In the view of the Center, the argument is taxonomical, perhaps just semantical in nature, and only contributes to an understanding of more important questions through the digressions and other points raised in the essay along its course, which are secondary or less in the eyes of the author, Abromeit, himself. This ‘debate’ also underscores the state and condition of Marxian academia itself, which is to say, not a healthy state.
The Center views the discourse exemplified in the proceeding to be evidence of one of the Center’s central tenets – that popular discourse online, in virtual spaces and through social media (e.g. YouTube, etc.), nominally on these same subjects, goes much further in both their explanatory and developmental power in this territory.
That said, the ‘gems’ which we believe are of interest to the Center and the reader contained in Abromeit’s piece, are nevertheless valuable and are worthy of making more accessible to the public than its original form when it was published in Constellations in 2010. – CSS Research Team
Constellations Volume 17, No 1, 2010.
2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.,
By John Abromeit
erbert Marcuse’s theoretical debts to Martin Heidegger have become the subject of renewed scrutiny. A number of recent publications have documented and analyzed Marcuse’s early engagement with Heidegger’s philosophy as well as the remnants of that engagement in Marcuse’s later works. In what follows, I would like to make a contribution to these recent discussions by revisiting Marcuse’s theory of technology and technological rationality. A reappraisal of Marcuse’s theory of technology is crucial to determining the extent to which he remained indebted to Heidegger, since many commentators see this as the aspect of his thought that most clearly displays Heidegger’s continuing influence. In contrast to this interpretation, I will argue that Marcuse borrows elements from the phenomenology of Heidegger and – to an even greater degree – Edmund Husserl, but that these elements are critically appropriated within an overall Marxist theoretical approach, in which social and historical factors are seen as the ultimate determinants of technology and technological rationality.
I would like to offer an alternative interpretation to that put forth recently by Andrew
Feenberg and Richard Wolin, both of whom see a more profound and lasting influence of Heidegger on Marcuse’s later work. While both Feenberg and Wolin recognize the ways in which Marcuse was critical of Heidegger, they also insist that he remained a “Heideggerian” in some significant sense until the end of his life. Feenberg emphasizes Marcuse’s indebtedness to Heidegger in order to praise his work and highlight his continuing relevance for a critical theory of technology.1
Wolin, in contrast, sees Marcuse’s indebtedness to Heidegger as a blind spot in his work, which made him susceptible to problematic anti-modern and anti-democratic tendencies, shared by other “children” of Heidegger, such as Hannah Arendt,
Karl L¨owith and Hans Jonas.2
While Feenberg and Wolin both capture important aspects of Marcuse’s relationship to Heidegger, in the end they overemphasize his indebtedness to Heidegger and fail to grasp the subordinate role that Heidegger, in particular, and phenomenology, in general, play in Marcuse’s non-traditional Marxist Critical Theory.3