Immediacy and Experience in Lukács' Theory of Reification

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This paper studies the relationship between consciousness and social existence in Georg Lukács’ early Marxist works through a consideration of his concept of reification. Understanding reification as the process underlying capitalist society’s immediate form of objectivity, I designate dereification as the cultivation of a mediated form of consciousness. In order to better understand the experiential aspects of this cultivation, I supplement my reading of Lukács’ theory of reification with attention to Walter Benjamin’s treatment of experience in capitalist society. I argue that Benjamin’s distinction between experience as the shock of isolated events [Erlebnis] and experience as a long-term practice [Erfahrung] helpfully illuminates Lukács’ conception of dereification, allowing us to see the latter as a long process of cultivation. This account ultimately leads to a consideration of the formal role played by the party—as the facilitator of the working class’s self-education—in Lukács’ philosophy of social praxis.
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Archival date: 2022-05-11
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