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Philosophy and Critical Pedagogy

Insurrection and Commonwealth


Charles Reitz

Critical pedagogy, political economics, and aesthetic theory combine with dialectical and materialist understandings of science, society, and revolutionary politics to develop the most radical goals of society and education. In Philosophy and Critical Pedagogy: Insurrection and Commonwealth, Marcuse’s hitherto misunderstood and neglected philosophy of labor is reconsidered, resulting in a labor theory of ethics. This develops commonwealth criteria of judgment regarding the real and enduring economic and political possibilities that concretely encompass all of our engagement and action. Marcuse’s newly discovered 1974 Paris Lectures are examined and the theories of Georg Lukács and Ernest Manheim contextualize the analysis to permit a critical assessment of the nature of dialectical methodology today. Revolutionary strategy and a common-ground political program against intensifying inequalities of class, race, and gender comprise the book’s commonwealth counter-offensive.


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Chapter 1. Materialism & Dialectics: Nature, History, and Knowing


· 1 · materialism & dialectics: Nature, History, and Knowing “The Chemistry of Concepts and Perceptions: Philosophical problems of nearly every sort are today assuming the very form they took 2000 years ago—how can some- thing emerge from its opposite, for example, the rational out of the unrational, the sensate out of the lifeless, the logical out of the non-logical, dispassionate observation out of ambitious striving, living for others out of egoism, truth out of error? Metaphysical philosophy made things easier for itself by denying the emer- gence of any of these things out of the others, and by presuming a magical origin for those aspects it deemed of higher value… Historical philosophy on the other hand—which cannot at all be thought of as separate from the natural sciences and which is the very youngest of all philosophical methods—demonstrates in quite another fashion…that there are no absolute contradictions,…and that an error in reasoning stands behind any presumed categorical exclusion.” “The Congenital Defect of Philosophy: …A lack of historical sense is the congenital defect of philosophy.” —Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1886) Paragraphs 1 & 2 (my translation) Nietzsche is the incendiary philosopher of moral transvaluation and libera- tion of mind; Marx the theorist of workforce transformation through critical human consciousness and communist revolution. Neither was a particularly avid adherent of Hegel’s teleological spiritualism, but they certainly did admire 14 philosophy & critical pedagogy the dialectical method refined and developed by him. Nietzsche appropriated from Hegel’s historical and dialectical philosophy...

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