Herbert Marcuse: biography of this German philosopher

Human beings have always been a gregarious and community driven being, and throughout history we have seen that the number of human beings is increasing, we tend to generate more and more structures and societies. complex. And this development does not occur in a linear and unitary way, but different environments and cultures have generated their own systems of organization and management.

How societies have developed has been the subject of debate and research over the centuries, with authors like Marx among the best known. Another of the most important, that of the last century, is Herbert Marcuse. And it is of this author that we will speak in this article; we will see a brief biography of Herbert Marcuse in order to better understand his thinking.

    The biography of Herbert Marcuse

    Herbert Hermann Marcuse was born on July 19, 1998 in Berlin. He was the oldest and the first of three siblings in the marriage of merchant Carl Marcuse and Gertrud Kreslawskyun, who was the granddaughter of a factory owner.

    The family, of Jewish origin, had a prosperous and prosperous socio-economic situation, which would allow their children to have a good education.

    Training and World War I

    With the advent of World War I, and at only sixteen, Marcuse enlisted in the army. He worked mainly in the care and maintenance of horses, in Berlin itself. On top of that, he would serve as a front-line soldier and be part of both the Berlin City Soldiers’ Council and the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

    The war is over, Herbert Marcuse became interested in university life and decided to study economics, philosophy and German at the University of Berlin. After that, he enrolled at the University of Friborg, where he studied literature. He would obtain a doctorate in the same discipline in 1922, with a thesis devoted to the study of the foundations of German literature. He also resigned from the Social Democratic Party after the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg.

    After completing his doctorate, he returned to Berlin, where he worked in a bookstore. In 1924, he married Sophie Wertheim in this city. Finally, precisely in 1928, the author decided to return to the University of Friborg to study philosophy alongside authors like Heidegger, whom he admired and who would be very influential in his existentialist thought.

    During this time he began to take an interest in the field of sociology, receiving influences and reading the theories of Marx and Weber.

    He tried to qualify and enter university as a professor alongside HeideggerBut the growing rise of Nazism and the latter’s initial position on the subject prevented the author from doing so. He wrote one of his first works, a monograph titled “Hegel’s Ontology and The Theory of Historicity”, and also published and even edited magazines such as Die Gesellschaft.

    Institute for Social Research and World War II

    In 1933, Marcuse came into contact through Kurt Riezler with the Institut für Sozialforschung or Institute for Social Research, then headed by Max Horkheimer.

    The author moved to Frankfurt and was part of what would become the Frankfurt School, where, along with Horkheimer and other researchers, he analyzed social elements such as the role of families, social movements and the examination of Marxist theories. too much he criticized the orthodoxy and positivism that underpin capitalism and communism.

    He would begin to integrate and do his own critical theory, as well as work on finding an integrative perspective of Hegel’s praxis and theory and Marxism. Already at this stage, the author began to gain a reputation, developing different surveys.

    The rise to power of Hitler and Nazism led Marcuse, of Jewish descent, to make the decision to leave Germany.. He passed through Paris and Geneva, where he became the director of the Institute’s branch, but eventually emigrated to the United States.

    Professional life in the United States

    There he would work and continue his research at Columbia University, where a seat of the Institute was opened. In addition, he collaborated until the end of World War II with the United States Office of the Secret Service to overthrow the Nazi regime and other fascist regimes. He succeeded in nationalizing himself as an American in 1940.

    He would later begin to act as a professor of political philosophy. He first worked at Columbia University itself, then did the same at Harvard (where he also worked with the Russian Research Institute, although he was fired in 1958 for disagreements. on his research and the approach given to them).

    In 1954 he also started teaching at Brandeis University. During this vital stage and after being interested in Sigmund Freud’s theory, he theorized repression in society down to the extent of the democratic and unconscious level, whether capitalist or communist.

    He wrote Eros and Civilization (published in 1955) and The Discomfort of Culture, and in them you can see how the author proposes that always immersed in oppression and repression consciously and unconsciously we tend to seek freedom and Development.

    He wrote one of his best-known works, The One-Dimensional Man, in 1964. In this work he developed the journey that even in democratic societies we can find oppression and a tendency to force homogeneity and one-dimensionality, which makes development so difficult that virtually only the most marginal elements of society are able to generate change.

      The last years, death and the legacy

      During the sixties and seventies, the author began working at UC Berkeley, at a time when great student movements and revolts began to emerge. The author supported the student, becoming a critical figure with what he establishes and liberalism and a strong influence for the social movements of the time.

      The author sought to generate a society that did not exercise repression and eliminate the alignment and domination of consumer societies. He also had a great interest in art, especially in the latter part of his life, as an instrument which enables us to move forward towards a freer society.

      In 1979, Herbert Marcuse traveled to Germany to give some speeches. However, during his stay in the town of Starnberg, the author suffered a stroke which ultimately ended his life on July 26, 1979.

      Herbert Marcuse he was an intellectual of great prestige and fame, philosophy served as inspiration especially for socio-political movements and to analyze from a critical point of view and for purposes of change the functioning of different types of societies and the way they act on the population.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Kellner, D. (1984). Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism. London: Macmillan.
      • Mattick, P. (1972) Critique of Marcuse: One-dimensional Man in Class Society Merlin Press.

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