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Critical Discussion Lukács and Heidegger: Towards a New Philosophy , by Lucien Goldmann; translated by William Q. Boelhower; xxii & 112 pp. London, Henley, and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977, $7.50. Discussed by David Couzens Hoy I While the boundary between the philosopher's and the intellectual historian's treatment of the history of philosophy is vague, there is certainly a distinction between them. This distinction is not captured by the usual assertion that a properly philosophical discussion of past philosophies must question not merely their genesis and influence, but their truth as well. Whether "truth" so used has a determinate sense is an open question, and this question is begged by assuming that it can be asked from a transhistorical standpoint. Nevertheless, the interpretive task of finding similarities and differences between past thinkers can go on to say why these are in fact interesting now. Presumably their interest will stem from options that the interpreter thinks are still open in philosophically productive ways. Since the subtitle of Lucien Goldmann's Lukács andHeidegger is Towards a New Philosophy, the expectation is that the book will advance not only historical but also philosophical theses. Unfortunately, Goldmann died before writing more than an introduction, and these expectations are disappointingly answered only by a summary of Goldmann's lectures for the 1967-68 academic year. The transcripts of university courses are rarely worth publishing, and these are no exception. Perhaps it was not a disservice to Goldmann for the French to publish this work since they could assume that most readers would be familiar with his works of careful scholarship like The Hidden God. The danger of an English edition is that it is not likely to generate interest in Goldmann's other works among readers who are unfamiliar with his unique approach 107 108Philosophy and Literature and who pick up this book primarily because of its concern with Lukács and Heidegger. The editors' decision neither to translate Youssef Ishaghpour's introduction nor to provide anything more than a cursory glossary as a substitute is thus a mistake. Despite the book's incompleteness, however, it does raise a provocative historical question that Goldmann, had he lived, could have developed into an originative philosophical discussion. Goldmann speculates that two crucial passages in Being and Time where Heidegger defends the importance of his own work against that of his contemporaries could refer only to Lukács, although he remains unnamed. This thesis has the startling implication that several of Being and Time's most original and influential ideas are in fact derived from Lukács's earlier works, including The Souland the Forms (191 1) and History and Class Consciousness (1923)—the most seminal books for Goldmann's own approach to the sociology of culture. On Goldmann's reading, at least three related points in Being and Time are already elaborated in detail, although in a different jargon, by Lukács: (1) the priority of the notion of man as a being already in a world rather than as a disengaged Cartesian subject or Kantian transcendental ego; (2) the priority of Zuhandenheit, or instrumentality, over Vorhandenheit, or objective givenness; and (3) the priority of fundamental ontology, and of what Heidegger calls the question of Being, over the contemporary fragmentation of philosophy into particular technical enterprises like epistemology and value theory. The common denominator of these three points is a critique of both traditional and current neo-Kantian philosophies for their metaphysical commitment to subject-object dualism. By showing that Lukács anticipates Heidegger in formulating the basic elements of such a critique, Goldmann would upset two common assumptions about the intellectual history of the twentieth century. His first implication is that the phenomenological and existential thinkers were not as original as was generally believed. His second is that existentialism and dialectical materialism have a common origin and are not radically independent; there will certainly be differences between the two, but these are presumably not ontological ones, and do not require Sartre's elaborate attempts to reconcile them. Goldmann does not want to oversimplify matters, of course, so he does suggest that Being and Time is the result of several lines of influence, only one of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 107-118
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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