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

Just as all life today tends increasingly to be subjected to rationalization and planning, so the life of each individual, including his most hidden impulses, which formerly constituted his private domain, must now take the demands of rationalization and planning into account: the individual's self-preservation presupposes his adjustment to the requirements for the preservation of the system. He no longer has room to evade the system.(…) Adjustment becomes the standard for every conceivable type of subjective behavior. The triumph of subjective, formalized reason is also the triumph of a reality that confronts the subject as absolute, overpowering. (p.65)


Rationalisation, Rationality, Inivdiuality, Psychology, Behaviour, Subjectivity


Horkheimer citations

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