History and Praxis: Georg Lukács’ Philosophy of Praxis
The aim of the research project is completing and publishing a study on Georg Lukács’ philosophical work of the 1920s, both in English (the author signed a publishing contract with Bloomsbury Academic in spring 2014) and in Greek (the author signed a publishing contract with Topos Publications in spring 2017). It is also the dissemination of the research findings through book launches, talks at scientific meetings and presentations at conferences in Greece and abroad. Georg Lukács’ early Marxist philosophy of the 1920s laid the foundations of Critical Theory. However, the evaluation of Lukács’ philosophical contribution has been largely determined by one-sided readings of eminent theorists like Theodor W. Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth or the later Lukács himself.
Kavoulakos’s book offers a new reconstruction of Lukács’ early Marxist work capable of restoring its dialectical complexity by highlighting its roots in Lukács’ “pre-Marxist” period. As a student in Heidelberg, Lukács became well acquainted with a particular trend within southwest-German Neokantianism towards a dialectization and ontologization of transcendental philosophy. At the same time he distanced himself from Hegelian dialectics as a form of panlogism. Instead he sought to resolve philosophical antinomies through a mysticism of individual praxis. At the end of 1918 Lukács discovered a more coherent and realistic answer to his philosophical dilemmas in Marxism. Consequently, in his reading of historical materialism he combined a non-idealist, non-systematic historical dialectics with an emphasis on conscious collective transformative praxis. True theory has to help people realize the frustrated demands of historical reason as well as the objective possibility of their practical realization. Capitalism impedes subversive activity by reifying and naturalizing social relations. Resistance and social change can take the form of a practical leap to the “radically new” – in contemporary terms: an event – that is, at the same time, part of an open dialectical process of de-reification and democratic self-determination. Reformulated in this way, Lukács’ classical argument can play a central role within contemporary Critical Theory.