Dewey, John - The Middle Works, 1899-1924. Vol. 12, 1920, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1982. (pgs. 147-148)

. . . When the belief that knowledge is active and operative takes hold of men, the ideal realm is no longer something aloof and separate; it is rather that collection of imagined possibilities that stimulates men to new efforts and realizations. It still remains true that the troubles which men undergo are the forces that lead them to project pictures of a better state of things. But the picture of the better is shaped so that it may become an instrumentality of action, while in the classic view the Idea belongs ready-made in a noumenal world. Hence, it is only an object of personal aspiration or consolation, while to the modern, an idea is a suggestion of something to be done or of a way of doing.

An illustration will, perhaps, make the difference clear. Distance is an obstacle, a source of trouble. It separates friends and prevents intercourse. It isolates, and makes contact and mutual understanding difficult. This state of affairs provokes discontent and restlessness; it excites the imagination to construct pictures of a state of things where human intercourse is not injuriously affected by space. Now there are two ways out. One way is to pass from a mere dream of some heavenly realm in which distance is abolished and by some magic all friends are in perpetual transparent communication, to pass, I say, from some idle-castle-building to philosophic reflection. Space, distance, it will then be argued, is merely phenomenal; or, in a more modern version, subjective. It is not, metaphysically speaking, real. Hence the obstruction and trouble it gives is not after all "real" in the metaphysical sense of reality. Pure minds, pure spirits, do not live in a space world; for them distance is not. Their relationships in the true world are not in any way affected by special considerations. Their intercommunication is direct, fluent, unobstructed.

Does the illustration involve a caricature of ways of philosophizing with which we are all familiar" But if it is not an absurd caricature, does it not suggest that much of what philosophies have taught about the ideal and noumenal or superiority real world, is after all, only casting a dream into an elaborate dialectic form through the use of a speciously scientific terminology? Practically, the difficulty, the trouble remains. Practically, however, it may be "metaphysically," space is still real: --it acts in a definite objectionable way. Again, man dreams of some better state of things. From troublesome fact e takes refuge in fantasy. But this time, the refuge does not remain a permanent and remote asylum.

The idea becomes a standpoint from which to examine existing occurrences and to see if there is not among them something which gives a hint of how communication at a distance can be effected, something to be utilized as a medium of speech at long range. The suggestion or fancy though still ideal is treated as a possibility capable of realization in the concrete natural world, not as a superior reality apart form that world. As such, it becomes a platform from which to scrutinize natural events. Observed from the point of view of this possibility, things disclose properties hitherto undetected. In the light of these ascertainments, the idea of some agency for speech at a distance becomes less vague and floating: it takes on positive form. This action and reaction goes on. The possibility or idea is employed as a method for observing actual existence; and in the light of what is discovered the possibility takes on concrete existence. It becomes less of a mere idea, a fancy, a wished-for possibility, and more of an actual fact. Invention proceeds, and at last we have the telegraph, the telephone, first through wires, and then with no artificial medium. The concrete environment is transformed in the desired direction; it is idealized in fact and not merely in fancy. The ideal is realized through its own use as a tool or method of inspection, experimentation, selection and combination of concrete natural operations.

Reitz, Charles - Art, Alienation and the Humanities: A Critical Engagement with Herbert Marcuse, Albany: State U. of New York Press, 2000 (pgs. 9-10)

For the purposes of this study I use the term critical theory in a technical sense to refer to the theories of Marcuse, the Frankfurt School, Western Marxism, and their deconstructionist and postmodernist philosophical progeny. When speaking more generically, I use the terms critical thinking or critical theorizing. Much of what is called critical theory today is rooted specifically in Marcuse's thought. Marcuse has formulated a particular approach to aesthetic education and a unique version of a philosophical humanism that he then presents as critical theory against the debilitating paradoxes that he sees at the core of our single-dimensional culture: alienation in the midst of affluence, repression through gratification, and the over stimulation and paralysis of mind. Marcuse's efforts at building an emancipatory theory of education are at times immensely insightful and at others they risk being elitist and unhelpful. Most importantly, he has posed a critical theory of education to us as a problem. The task confronting us is that of assuming sufficient philosophical perspective to enable creative synthesis to enhance our powers of learning and transformation.

I am attempting to break new ground in the study of Marcuse and critical theory by attempting to do what few academic philosophers to date have thought worthwhile: to take very seriously what Marcuse has to say about the theory and conduct of education. I contend in this investigation that Marcuse's contributions to a critical theory of art and critical theory of alienation only become fully intelligible on the basis of what he has to say about a critical theory of education. My point is that educational insights are the major purpose of his extensive analyses of art and alienation. By comprehensively reviewing materials from the primary sources, and by permitting him to speak for himself a good deal of the time, I hope to delineate the inner logic of his philosophical work. The body of this study will disclose the structure and movement of his thought. It will raise up (heb auf) some of the untranslated and relatively inaccessible materials that have rarely been critically appreciated. It will demonstrate why these are indispensable aspects of Marcuse's overall approach, and even more importantly, it will attempt to build beyond both his theoretical accomplishments and failures.

I see the philosophy of education, as my specific analytical focus, offering particular advantages that can aid in the identification of the meta-theoretical basis of Marcuse's cultural and social theory. These advantages stem from the fact that Marcuse's aesthetic and social-philosophical links to educational issues are indissoluble. Marcuse stresses the educational value of the arts because of the qualitative difference he finds between the multidimensional kind of knowledge thought to be produced by the aesthetic imagination and the unidimensional kind of knowledge attributed to what he describes as the controlled and repressive rationalities of achievement, performance, and domination. During his most optimistic phases, Marcuse views aesthetic education as essential for the actualization of a utopian form of society, where art is also to become a material force for the revitalization of all aspects of social life. His intention is to liberate the original meaning of art from its narrow and repressive association with high culture. A theory of art must become a theory of sensuousness, pleasure, and gratification, capable of reshaping society for life, rather than persist as the traditional study of the beauty and form of accomplished works. Most uniquely, Marcuse formulates a dialectic of love and death that he believes is grounded in the conflicted essence of human nature. This dialectic, he contends, is preserved as paradox and tragedy in high art and in the humanities. Ultimately, Marcuse will advocate an educational and cultural philosophy that maintains a critical distance from direct forms of social intervention, stressing instead education as affective and intellectual preparation for a redefinition of need and for a restructuring of consciousness, in some ways quite consistent with the classically conservative liberal arts approach.

The thematic interconnections among Marcuse's theories of art, alienation, and the humanities constitute the decisive structural and philosophical unity of his work. Alienation, in his estimation, is thought to be the result of training people to forget their authentic human nature--its essential internal turmoil and social potential--by educationally eradicating the realm where this knowledge is considered to be best preserved, that is, the humanities. Marcuse was appalled at what he saw as the displacement of the humanities in the 1970s by a form of higher education that had become mainly scientific and technical and that primarily stood in service to the needs of commerce, industry, and the military. Marcuse's theory contends that our society is obsessed with efficiency, standardization, mechanization, and specialization, and that this fetish involves aspects of repression, fragmentation, and domination that impede real education and that preclude the development of a real awareness of ourselves and of our world. Alienation is seen as the result of a mis-education or half-education that leads people to accept sensual anesthetization and social amnesis as normal. Conditioned to a repressive pursuit of affluence, making a living becomes more important than making a life. This aspect of Marcuse's approach to alienation is explicitly drawn from Schiller's arguments in favor of art and against crass utilitarianism in On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters (1793).

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