Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse
Publications » 1970s

The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics

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The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics (Boston: Beacon, 1978), 88 pages.

Translation of Die Permanenz der Kunst (Munich: Hanser, 1977). English version translated and revised by Herbert Marcuse and Erica Shereover © 1978. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1978), 88 pages.

  • expanded translation of Permanenz der Kunst (1977)
  • Reader Elliott Green (German major at Princeton, MPhil student in Development Studies at the London School of Economics) wrote on Amazon: "Herbert Marcuse, original member of the so-called 'Frankfurt School', here presents a critique of Marxist aesthetics in one of his last books. Although only 72 pages long, the book is powerful in its argument against the orthodox Marxist view that 'art represents its the interests and world outlook of particular social classes.' Marcuse argues for the importance of art in itself, apart from its source, writing, 'the criteria for the progressive character of art are given only in the work itself as a whole: in what it says and how it says it.' He truly believes that art's place in the world is not to change the world directly but to influence how people perceive the world and thereby lead them to change it. Marcuse also touches upon other aspects of aesthetics, like his belief in a constant standard allowing us to distinguish between high and low art and the question of the 'end of art' as posited by Bertolt Brecht and others. Nevertheless his main argument is most powerful: he ends the book by praising art's role in representing 'the ultimate goal of all revolutions: the freedom and happiness of the individual.' Truly a valuable book for all students of art, aesthetics and philosophy."
Index entries: Aesthetic Dimension, The