‘The Destruction of Reason’ by Georg Lukács

First published by Merlin Press in 1952. Download link updated on 23th August 2021.

(.pdf & .epub)

Lukács shows how irrationalism was born in German feudal absolutism’s reaction to the French revolution of 1789. He studies the “irrationalist tradition” within philosophy stemming up to Hitler in the recent history of ideas.

A major study of Friedrich Schelling, Søren Kierkegaard, Arthur Schopenhauer and, in particular, Friedrich Nietzsche. A brilliant intellectual history of the philosophical positions and movements that in a way fermented to produce National Socialism.

As a Marxist work, it doesn’t make the mistake of arguing that earlier intellectual trends inevitably culminated in Nazism but instead only claims that no philosophy is “innocent.” As he writes:

“Thus the subject-matter which now presents itself to us is Germany’s path to Hitler in the sphere of philosophy. That is to say, we mean to show how this concrete path is reflected in philosophy, and how philosophical formulations, as an intellectual mirroring of Germany’s concrete development towards Hitler, helped to speed up the process. That we are therefore confining ourselves to portraying the most abstract part of this development by no means implies an over-estimation of philosophy’s importance in the turbulent totality of concrete developments. But we believe it is not superfluous to add that to underestimate the philosophical driving forces would be at least as dangerous and as little in accordance with reality.”

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