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eBook Eclipse of Reason ePub

eBook Eclipse of Reason ePub

by Max Horkheimer

  • ISBN: 0816491801
  • Category: World
  • Subcategory: History
  • Author: Max Horkheimer
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Continuum Pub Group (May 1974)
  • Pages: 191
  • ePub book: 1726 kb
  • Fb2 book: 1571 kb
  • Other: lit docx mobi lrf
  • Rating: 4.8
  • Votes: 246


Eclipse of Reason is a 1947 book by Max Horkheimer, in which the author discusses how the Nazis were able to project their agenda as "reasonable", but also identifies the pragmatism of John Dewey as problematic.

Eclipse of Reason is a 1947 book by Max Horkheimer, in which the author discusses how the Nazis were able to project their agenda as "reasonable", but also identifies the pragmatism of John Dewey as problematic, due to his emphasis on the instrumental dimension of reasoning. Horkheimer deals with the concept of reason within the history of western philosophy. He defines true reason as rationality, which can only be fostered in an environment of free, critical thinking.

Eclipse of Reason was published in English in 1947. In 1967 a German translation appeared under the title Zur Kritik der Instrumentellen Vernunft (Toward a Critique of Instrumental Reason)

Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Eclipse of Reason was published in English in 1947. In 1967 a German translation appeared under the title Zur Kritik der Instrumentellen Vernunft (Toward a Critique of Instrumental Reason). The form of reason Horkheimer praises he calls "objective. The form he criticizes he calls sometimes "formalized," sometimes "subjective," and sometimes "instrumental.

Eclipse of Reason book. Max Horkheimer was a leading figure in hugely influential Frankfurt School who highlighted the tyrannical aspects of our new rational cure.

Book Source: Digital Library of India Item 2015. author: Max Horkheimer d. ate. te: 2003-10-17 d. citation: 1947 d. dentifier: RMSC, IIIT-H d. dentifier. origpath: 95 d.

Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer (2013-03-06) Paperback – 1813. by. Max Horkheimer (Author). Find all the books, read about the author, and more. Are you an author? Learn about Author Central.

In Eclipse of Reason, Horkheimer discusses how the Nazis were able to project their agenda as "reasonable", but also identifies the Pragmatism of John Dewey as. .Eclipse of Reason - Max Horkheimer.

In Eclipse of Reason, Horkheimer discusses how the Nazis were able to project their agenda as "reasonable", but also identifies the Pragmatism of John Dewey as problematic, due to his emphasis on the instrumental dimension of reasoning. It is broken into five sections: Means and Ends, Conflicting Panaceas, The Revolt of Nature, The Rise and Decline of the Individual and On the Concept of Philosophy and deals with the concept of reason within the history of western philosophy.

Horkheimer was part of the Frankfurt School, who . In this relatively short volume Horkheimer discusses reason and rationality in fairly broad focus.

Horkheimer was part of the Frankfurt School, who you may have heard alluded to in dark tones by raving swivel-eyed racists, because the School features at the centre of the legendarily batshit ‘Cultural Marxism’ conspiracy. Well if this is the book that’s meant to bring down America then I think that says more about America than Horkheimer, to be honest. In the opening section he makes a distinction between Formalised or Subjective Reason, which is about reasoning from ends to means, and Objective Reason, which is about determining ends.

In his most important work, Max Horkheimer surveys and demonstrates the gradual ascendancy of Reason in Western philosophy, its eventual total application to all spheres of life, and what he considers its present reified domination. First published in 1947, Horkheimer here explores the ways in Nazism - that most irrational of political movements - had co-opted ideas of rationality for its own ends. Ultimately, the book is a warning of the ways this might happen again and, as such, this is a book that has never appeared more timely.

item 5 Max Horkheimer-Eclipse of Reason Paperback BOOK NEW -Max Horkheimer-Eclipse of Reason Paperback .

item 5 Max Horkheimer-Eclipse of Reason Paperback BOOK NEW -Max Horkheimer-Eclipse of Reason Paperback BOOK NEW. £1. 1. item 6 Eclipse of Reason, Paperback, by Max Horkheimer -Eclipse of Reason, Paperback, by Max Horkheimer. item 7 Eclipse of Reason (Bloomsbury Revelations) -Eclipse of Reason (Bloomsbury Revelations). He is one of the founders of the Frankfurt School. Country of Publication.

Horkheimer was the sole author of Eclipse of Reason, which appeared originally in English.

First published Wed Jun 24, 2009; substantive revision Wed Aug 30, 2017. Max Horkheimer was born into a conservative Jewish family on February 14, 1895, the only son of Moritz and Babette Horkheimer. Horkheimer was the sole author of Eclipse of Reason, which appeared originally in English.

Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.


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In _Eclipse of Reason_, Max Horkheimer, one of the most well known and influential theorists of the so-called Frankfurt School, calls our attention to a significant alteration in the concepts of reason and rationality in the twentieth century. While under an earlier conception of reason it was possible to assess the rationality of ends as well as means, it now seems impossible to employ reason unless the goal is set beforehand. "The idea that an aim can be reasonable for its own sake--on the basis of virtues that insight reveals it to have in itself--without reference to some kind of subjective gain or advantage" is utterly alien to our new exclusively instrumental conception of rationality. Under the new form of reason it becomes impossible to discuss the reasonableness of a goal unless it is subservient to another goal. The ultimate aims of human activity are set not by reason but by arbitrary whim. "There is no reasonable aim as such, and to discuss the superiority of one aim over another in terms of reason becomes meaningless. From the subjective approach, such a discussion is possible only if both aims serve a third and higher one, that is, if they are means, not ends." (p. 4)

If men are best judges of their own interests, then the interests of mankind as a whole can be decided by polls and markets. But how do we know men are best judges of their own interests? To answer this question we must rely on "some sort of reason underlying not only means but ends." We might try to argue that we know men are best judges of their own interests because the majority believes this, but since the principle of majority rule is based on the idea that men are best judges of their own interests, this seems to involve us in circular argument. Horkheimer points out that the principle of majority rule was, historically, based on metaphysical arguments about the dignity of each human individual. If reasoning about ends is discarded, democracy can be justified only by the fact that it exists. And by this standard tyranny can be justified just as readily. (pp. 26-27)

The role of the "pathfinders of modern thought," Horkheimer reminds us, was not to devise theories that could be reconciled with sacred documents or generally accepted beliefs. It was to create new sacred documents, and persuade the world to change its beliefs. The great religious and philosophical leaders of the past did not praise humility and brotherly love because they were accepted, because they were realistic, or because they were norms enforced by conformity. They praised them based on an idea of reason, or _logos_, that transcended existing circumstances and called for better ones. (pp. 33-34)

While we pay lip service to the idea that rhetoric might inspire improvement in individuals or societies, in practice "language has been reduced to just another tool in the gigantic apparatus of production." Any words that don't directly refer to measurable quantities are suspected of being "sales talk of some kind." Even children aren't immune from the cynical view that rhetoric always conceals advertisements or rationalizations. Thinking itself has been reduced to an industrial process. Reason is no longer an autonomous force, but merely an instrument to be used by the blind forces of nature or power. (pp. 21-22)

An important difference must be noted between Horkheimer's view and later "postmodern" views it arguably inspired. The idea that acquiescence of reason to power is the norm in the statistical sense is very easily confused with the idea that it is the norm in the moral sense. The principle of majority rule, interpreted as a demand that thinking conform to the statistical norm, has become "a new god, not in the sense in which the heralds of the great revolutions conceived it, namely, as a power of resistance to existing injustice, but as a power of resistance to anything that does not conform." (p. 30) Horkheimer tells us about the transformation of reason into an instrument of power, but he never says we must abandon the attempt to resurrect a form of reason capable of judging ends as well as means. Unlike postmodernists who acquiesce in the loss of objective reasoning about ends, or even celebrate it, Horkheimer laments its demise. He recognizes that a new emasculated, neutralized, impotent reason unable to confront power is what rules society. But he doesn't concede that it must rule. The postmodernist version of critical theory, on the other hand, by celebrating the new emasculated, neutralized, impotent form of reason rather than resisting it, seems to have inherited the description of the battle from Horkheimer only to take the opposite side.

_Eclipse of Reason_ was published in English in 1947. In 1967 a German translation appeared under the title _Zur Kritik der Instrumentellen Vernunft_ (Toward a Critique of Instrumental Reason). The form of reason Horkheimer praises he calls "objective." The form he criticizes he calls sometimes "formalized," sometimes "subjective," and sometimes "instrumental." As far as I can tell, Horkheimer doesn't object to formalization as such, but to the fact that it has been used to narrow the scope of reason's claims. He doesn't seem to object to the individual exercising reason independently, but to the fact that individuals almost always reason in terms of the incentives offered by existing power structures. Subjective reason, in the sense used in this book, treats the ends chosen by polls and markets as part of the natural environment. It treats the incentives put in place to enforce these ends as a natural fact, no more amenable to rational critique than the orbit of the planets. Subjective reason always optimizes the subject's personal interests in light of these incentives. It never criticizes them. "Subjective reason conforms to anything," no matter how irrational or inhumane. (p. 25)

According to the terms of the "peace settlement" between religion and philosophy that is in force today, secular philosophy surrenders all questions about ends to religion, while religion surrenders all questions about means to secular philosophy. As a result of this settlement, religion has given up the claim that the forms of life it advocates are reasonable. And philosophy has given up the claim that reason is "an organ for perceiving the true nature of reality and determining the guiding principles of our lives." (p. 18)

Pragmatism and positivism, two of the most influential forces in today's American philosophy departments, both fare badly under Horkheimer's criticism. Pragmatism assumes at the outset that truth in itself is not a value, but only an instrument that leads to "something that is alien or at least different from truth." This contrasts with the method of earlier philosophers, for whom practical life was a precondition for the pursuit of truth, not its aim. Horkheimer is uncertain if, after this reversal of values, pragmatism can even justly claim to be part of the philosophical tradition. "One might be tempted to deny any philosophical pedigree to a doctrine that holds not that our actions are successful because our ideas are true, but rather that our ideas are true because our expectations are fulfilled and our actions successful." (p. 42)

Among other difficulties, positivism is subject to doubts about its own consistency. "In refusing to verify their own principle--that no statement is meaningful unless verified--[positivists] are guilty of petitio principii, begging the question." In fact positivism bases its principles not on any form of philosophical reasoning, but on an observation of how "successful" sciences like physics are conducted. Again we find instrumental reason uncritically supposing existing social structures are always rational. (p. 76)

The instrumentalization of reason has also taken its toll on art. When we listen to a symphony today, we imagine we appreciate it on the basis of an "autonomous aesthetic instinct." But if we were to inquire into the origins of this so-called instinct, Horkheimer claims we would find a prehistory behind it. "Man's ... belief in the goodness or sacredness of a thing precedes his enjoyment of its beauty." Now that our beliefs in goodness and sacredness are no longer rationally defensible, we can no longer wholeheartedly believe in them. Our appreciation for art relies on "old forms of life smoldering under the surface of modern civilization." The warmth and delight we still find in art today are merely a result of these vestigial remnants of a now discarded form of reason, and, as a result, are now rapidly fading. (pp. 35-36)

Personally, I came to be interested in _Eclipse of Reason_ as a result of ethical questions about my work. The means we employ in engineering are exquisitely rational, based on the very undemocratic idea that the truths of mathematics and physics are to be decided on the basis of objective reasoning, irrespective of whether or not the majority assents to them. The ends of our work, however, are determined by the opinions of the majority as determined by polls and markets, irrespective of whether or not they are rational.

Engineers in Central Europe in the 1940s rationally planned how hydrogen cyanide gas would be produced and stored in canisters. They believed they were fulfilling their duty, being rational about means while leaving the choice of ends to their rulers. Engineers today rationally plan how coal will be extracted from mines and converted to electricity and carbon dioxide. We too believe we are fulfilling our duty by obeying. But we might ask, does a mind capable of devising exquisitely complex means have a duty to ask whether the ends for which they will be used are humane and rational? Or is obedience to majority and marketplace sufficient? The answers depend fundamentally on the issues Horkheimer confronts in _Eclipse of Reason_.

Horkheimer suggests that moral and intellectual progress is now blocked by a "debilitation of the will" caused by its "premature diversion into endless activities under the pressure of fear." (p. 186) In my own case, this rings very true. As a conscientious engineer I have always put aside my own will and looked to the marketplace as the sole guide to what activities are worthwhile. My intellectual energy has been dissipated in solving thousands of tiny problems, so none remained to confront the larger question of whether the ends of my work were rationally justified. The brutal way our society treats dissenters has always hung over my head, and, conveniently for my rulers, produced the fear they needed to get me to put reasoning about ends aside, and focus entirely on means to solve their problems.
WtePSeLNaGAyko WtePSeLNaGAyko
Straight up Frankfurt-school-critique goodness. Some of the specific and sustained interpretive moments feel quite dated, but Horkheimer must be credited for putting into focus the nature of a technocratic positivist pursuit of means w/out any deeper end or purpose, without reference to some principle outside of our mere subjective wants (i.e., his concept of "objective reason")--it is, I think, a decisive description of the dominant mode of activity and organization in our moment of neoliberal or multi-national capitalism.

The "Frankfurt school pessimism" is discussed at length by Moishe Postone; the latter compelling explains that thinkers like Horkheimer conflate increasing technological forces as the source of modern people's increasing alienation in the world; rather, the more essential form of domination underlying modern "progress" is, according to Postone, a form of social mediation (the value-form) that has become autonomous and takes place at the expense of humans beings. Forms of industrial production and commodification are expressions of that underlying social form, rather than the primary sources of domination.
Togar Togar
fine reprint of this classic work
Fenrikree Fenrikree
"Whether this situation is a necessary phase in the general ascent of society as a whole, or whether it will lead to a victorious re-emergence of the neo-barbarism recently defeated on the battlefields, depends at least in part on our ability to interpret accurately the profound changes now taking place in the public mind and in human nature."

Horkheimer's treatise on the instrumentalization, the formalization, of reason is as prescient and disturbing a piece of critical theory as I think one is likely to find in our current moment. The reduction of reason, in the techno-positivist intellectual apparatus of industrialized mass culture societies, is both a consequence of and a contributing factor to the loss the individual's ability to push back against the hyper-efficient systems of social domination created by the techno-rational impetus of our means of scientific production and engineering (both in the mechanical and social senses). The reduction of reason, once an objective quality of truth to which we could hold reality to account, to a mere trace or byproduct of 'natural' forces for the subject's self-preservation in reality as-is deprives the individual of his or her most powerful tool for questioning the rightness of the ends suggested by the social reality they are presented.

Horkheimer traces the historical development of the transition from 'objective' to 'subjective' reason, and its relationship to the subject, philosophy, religion, and the regressive and progressive barbarisms of fascism and industrial societies, critiquing all attempts to somehow reverse the historically necessary transformation of 'reason' through neo-thomistic commercialized religion or the positivist & pragmatist philosophies which deprive philosophy, the subject, and reason of all substantive content and reduce them to mere events in the processes of production.

This breakdown in the cultural methods of critique and the reduction of all processes to seemingly ‘rational’ forms of domination and reification lead to what Horkheimer calls the ‘revolt of nature,’ which I think is the most powerful essay and thesis presented in this book. Essentially, Horkheimer (perhaps in the vein of Gasset) believes that the resentful revolt of ‘nature’ which manifests itself in regressive, barbarous social and political movements which ostensibly reject the instrumentalization of the subject, in fact almost always lend themselves to further refinement of the instruments of domination and further commodification of the subject’s nature. How timely in this current resurgence of the very pre-fascistic nativism globally to see a philosopher and critical theorist dismantling the very process at work in this faux-regression, and how these movements are triggered in response to the resentful, alienated, reified subject.

For Horkheimer, it is madness for philosophy to abandon its negativity and to reduce itself to another instrument for evaluating means for already accepted ends determined by the domination process of social production and the reality it perpetuates. A critical theory which exists in dialogue with critical social movements capable of questioning both the means and ends of the social reality as vital forces toward heading off the revolts of nature which allow the subject to coopt him or herself into the very refinement of his or her domination. The task of philosophy is exactly to move beyond the instrumental questions of how best to achieve predetermined ends supplied by an external reality which may or may not have any allegiance to the crushed masses - but instead to question those ends and hold them accountable to humane and liberatory impulses.

Having recently read Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, the Frankfurt School seems to me to have been very far ahead of itself in understanding how the ideology of any industrial/post-industrial society leads to inevitably to a process of self-perpetuating, compounded domination. Furthermore, they highlight the ways in which positivist philosophies of material and social production rob the culture at large of its ability to effectively self-critique. As Zizek says, today it is easier for us to imagine the end of global human society than it is to imagine a significant shift away from the global neoliberal capitalist order - the perfect example of how denuded and debilitated our reason has become under the onslaught of the insidious ideologies or rational production and domination. Powerful stuff, and frightening, but vital and useful, too.

"The anonymous martyrs of the concentration camps are the symbols of the humanity that is striving to be born. The task of philosophy is to translate what they have done into language that will be heard, even though their finite voices have been silenced by tyranny."