The Ruthless Critique of Everything Existing

The Ruthless Critique of Everything Existing:Nature and Revolution in Marcuse's Philosophy of Praxis

  • Paperback

    + free ebook

    Regular price $26.95 Sale price $18.87
    Page redirects on selection
    Add to cart
    30% off
  • Ebook

    Regular price $9.99 Sale price $7.00
    Page redirects on selection
    Add to cart
    30% off

How Marcuse helps us understand the ecological crisis of the 21st century

For several years after 1968, Herbert Marcuse was one of the most famous philosophers in the world. He became the face of Frankfurt School Critical Theory for a generation in turmoil. His fame rested on two remarkable books, Eros and Civilization and One-Dimensional Man. These two books represent the utopian hopes and dystopian fears of the time.

In the 1960s and 70s, young people seeking a theoretical basis for their revolution found it in his work. Marcuse not only supported their struggles against imperialism and race and gender discrimination, he foresaw the far-reaching implications of the destruction of the natural environment. Marcuse's Marxism was influenced by Husserl and Heidegger, Hegel and Freud. These eclectic sources grounded an original critique of advanced capitalism focused on the social construction of subjectivity and technology. Marcuse contrasted the "one-dimensionality" of conformist experience with the "new sensibility" of the New Left. The movement challenged a society that "delivered the goods" but devastated the planet with its destructive science and technology. A socialist revolution would fail if it did not transform these instruments into means of liberation, both of nature and human beings. This aspiration is alive today in the radical struggle over climate change. Marcuse offers theoretical resources for understanding that struggle.


  • A student and friend of Herbert Marcuse in the late 1960s, Andrew Fenberg gives in this new book an outstanding contribution not only to the knowledge of his philosophy, but also to the "ruthless criticism" of advanced capitalism. Feenberg shows, with great insight, how Marcuse's Marxism, rooted in Phenomenology, Hegelian dialectics, and Freudian Eros, was able to combine rationality and imagination, producing a radical version of Critical Theory which won the hearts and souls of the rebellious youth of the 1960's. And which is still very much relevant in our times, because, as Feenberg concludes, climate change validates his revolutionary call for a new society, based on life-affirmative values.

    Michael Löwy, author of On Changing the Word: Essays in Political Philosophy, from Karl Marx to Walter Benjamin (Haymarket Books).
  • For a half century, Andrew Feenberg has tirelessly explicated, interrogated and applied the lessons of his controversial mentor, Herbert Marcuse. The Ruthless Critique of Everything Existing is the culmination of these efforts, building on the strengths of Marcuse’s thought, while candidly confronting its weaknesses, in the hope of convincing a new generation of readers of its abiding relevance.

    Martin Jay
  • Andrew Feenberg's new book is a tour de force. With detailed yet crystal-clear analyses of Marcuse's major writings in their historical context, it reconstructs the implicit ontology of meaning that sustains Marcuse's unique version of critical theory. Arguing that Marcuse's embrace of phenomenology far outlived his break with Heidegger, Feenberg demonstrates its importance in chapters devoted to Marcuse's reading of Marx, Hegel, and Freud, engaging unflinchingly, yet constructively, with the more controversial aspects of those readings and the famous debates they provoked. Two final chapters – on techno-science and on the environmental crisis – concretize the potential contained in Marcuse's idea of "libidinous reason" for tackling the ideological and structural impasses of our own desperate times.

    Steven Crowell (Rice University)