For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Eclipse of Reason

by Horkheimer, Max (2004)


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.

Key Passage

Subjective reason loses all spontaneity, productivity, power to discover and assert new kinds of content—it loses its very subjectivity. Like a too frequently sharpened razor blade, this 'instrument' becomes too thin and in the end is even inadequate for mastering the purely formalistic tasks to which it is limited. This parallels the general social tendency to destruction of productive forces, precisely in a period of tremendous growth of these forces. (p.35)


Rationalisation, Rationality, Inivdiuality, Psychology, Behaviour, Subjectivity


Horkheimer citations

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