In Eclipse of Reason , Max Horkheimer shows how thinking has degenerated since the Enlightenment into what he characterizes as instrumental classification and calculation:. This type of reason may be called subjective reason. It is essentially concerned with means and ends, with the adequacy of procedures for purposes more or less taken for granted and supposedly self-explanatory. It attaches little importance to the question whether the purposes as such are reasonable.
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Max Horkheimer was a leading figure in hugely influential Frankfurt School who highlighted the tyrannical aspects of our new rational cure. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 25th by Bloomsbury Academic first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Eclipse of Reason , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Eclipse of Reason. In this important work, which explains the Frankfurt School doctrines, Horkheimer tries to answer the following question: The present potentialities of social achievement surpass the expectations of all the philosophers and statesmen who have ever outlined in Utopian programs the idea of a truly human society.
Yet there is a universal feeling of fear and disillusionment. It seems that even as technical knowledge expands the horizon of man's thought and activity, his autonomy as an individual, his ability to resist the growing apparatus of mass manipulation, his power of imagination, his independent judgment appear to be reduced.
Advance in technical facilities for enlightenment is accompanied by a process of dehumanization. Thus progress threatens to nullify the very goal it is supposed to realize the idea of man. He starts with an explanation of the Objective theory of reason then he explains its decline and the rise of subjective reason, which he gives a few ideological examples for it until we reach pragmatism.
He then explains the effects of the subjective reasoning on the individual and the society, then he ends with his solution to this problem. You can find my complete analysis on my Blog Apr 02, sologdin rated it really liked it Shelves: leftwing-theory , wurstchen. A quiet little text, but probably one of the more significant foundational documents of the Frankfurt School, here by the most frankfurty of the bunch. Marcuse, Fromm, and Adorno are all more famous, but this guy captures the Frankfurt principle best, I think.
Five essays. First is an argument regarding subjective and objective reason. This form of reason does not concern itself with analysis of the content or ends, but rather assumes that the ends are for the benefit of actor of the means. We might consider this to be substantive rationality, perhaps. The task of this essay is to lay out that process, wherein reason is subjectivized and formalized.
Process starts with classical Athens, goes through Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment--good stuff, standard Frankfurt long view. To readers of Dialectic of Enlightenment , the trajectory should be very familiar here. And if the foundations of objective reason erode? Dialectic of Enlightenment Other essays are interesting, but not nearly as tidy; they include critiques of positivism, pragmatism, Thomism, scientism.
Neumann], because it feared that ever-increasing disillusionment [cf. The real individuals of our time are the martyrs [! Recommended for those who would attack general concepts, including the concept of the general concept, readers who express resistance to the threatening relapse into mythology and madness, and consummate supermen, against whom no one has warned more anxiously than Nietzsche himself.
View all 4 comments. The mere prospect of reviewing Eclipse of Reason is rather terrifying. In this short yet dense book, Horkheimer makes the distinction between subjective and objective reason. Subjective reason being concerned with ends, i. Then he traces the history of these seemingly antagonistic concepts an The mere prospect of reviewing Eclipse of Reason is rather terrifying. Then he traces the history of these seemingly antagonistic concepts and their relationship to religion, the Enlightenment, and Industrialization.
According to formalized reason, despotism, cruelty, oppression are not bad in themselves; no rational agency would endorse a verdict against dictatorship if its sponsors were likely to profit by it.
Phrases like 'the dignity of man' either imply a dialectical advance in which the idea of divine right is preserved and transcended, or become hackneyed slogans that reveal their emptiness as soon as somebody inquires into their specific meaning. The positivists also seem to confuse science as a tool to reach the truth with the truth itself; moreover, since it is an element of the social process, it is not immune to changing social standards and the interactions of economic, technical, political, and ideological forces.
Positivism turns a blind eye to the profound limits of the scientific method. When a justification is requested, when someone asks why observation is the proper guarantee of truth, the positivists simply appeal to observation again. In it, Horkheimer describes the relationship between man and nature as that of domination and repression; domination of man over external nature, which is then internalized as repression of man himself. Nature is viewed as a mere tool to be exploited.
On the one hand, nature has been stripped of all intrinsic value or meaning. On the other, man has been stripped of all aims except self-preservation. He tries to transform everything within reach into a means to that end. Every word or sentence that hints of relations other than pragmatic is suspect.
When a man is asked to admire a thing, to respect a feeling or attitude, to love a person for his own sake, he smells sentimentality and suspects that someone is pulling his leg or trying to sell him something. Instead of looking at the world with a critical eye, instead of trying to fight oppression and pursue truth, individuals find themselves compelled, from a very young age, to conform, to "willingly embrace or force themselves to accept the rule of the stronger as the eternal norm. However, the sense of repression remains, and expresses itself in a 'devious undercover life' or a desire to persecute, and this desire maintains the system that produces it.
Political outcasts, eccentric religious sects like the German Bibelforscher, and 'zootsuiters' have taken the place of witches, sorcerers, and heretics; and there are still the Jews.
Motion pictures, the radio, popular biographies and novels have the same refrain: This is our groove, this is the rut of the great and the would-be great—this is reality as it is and should be and will be. For all its bleakness, this book is crucially relevant to this day and age. There were numerous ideas and eye-opening observations that I couldn't go into in this review, so I highly recommend reading Eclipse of Reason for yourself.
It will probably require some effort to get through, but it will be worth it, all the same. View all 3 comments. Feb 20, Kate rated it really liked it Shelves: theory , soc , nonfiction , own-physical. How do you rate a theoretical work? I certainly don't know.
Here's some of what I got out of it. In this book Horkheimer examines how reason, once used to identify societal goals such as truth, justice, and freedom, has become instead divorced from its objective roots and is now a subjective tool used to justify any particular means and ends regardless of their nature. In particular, Horkheimer wrote this book to address the actions of Third Reich Germany and how Nazism was able to make its genoc How do you rate a theoretical work?
In particular, Horkheimer wrote this book to address the actions of Third Reich Germany and how Nazism was able to make its genocidal goals appear reasonable and therefore justifiable. Instead of using reason to organize and create society around ideals that we find meaningful, we now use reason to adapt to society as it exists and to make ourselves into as efficient cogs in the machine as we can be.
Through rationalization, philosophical concepts have become streamlined and stripped of complexity, which is necessary to the discovery of truth. Truth can only be discovered through dynamic thought: complexity, contradiction, challenge. But truth is no longer perceived as an end in itself; rather functionality has become the dominating ideal of society.
Subjective reason can be used to support ideologies of oppression just as easily as ideologies of progress. Differing forms of government become simply other patterns to which we must adapt, not question. Democratic arguments become unable to oppose totalitarianism because these arguments lack truth and call upon empty ideals. The paradox of progress is that technological advances can and have been used for both noble and dehumanizing, violent ends.
Progress will not necessarily be a straight line towards "good" despite the fact that it is commonly conceptualized that way.
The decline of religion in society coincided with the decline of objective reason. Religion and reason once both served higher objective goals, but the Enlightenment weakened the foundations of both concepts.
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Horkheimer was the director of the Institute and Professor of Social Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt from —, and again from — In between those periods he would lead the Institute in exile, primarily in America. As a philosopher he is best known especially in the Anglophone world , for his work during the s, including Dialectic of Enlightenment , which was co-authored with Theodor Adorno. Especially important in this regard are the writings from the s, which were largely responsible for developing the epistemological and methodological orientation of Frankfurt School critical theory.
Eclipse of Reason is a 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 details the difference between objective , subjective and instrumental reason, and states that we have moved from the former through the center and into the latter though subjective and instrumental reason are closely connected. Objective reason deals with universal truths that dictate that an action is either right or wrong. It is a concrete concept, and a force in the world that requires specific modes of behavior. The focus in the objective faculty of reason is on the ends, rather than the means. Subjective reason is an abstract concept of reason, and focuses primarily on means.
Eclipse of Reason