From Eros to Eschaton: Herbert Marcuse’s liberation of time

Edwards, Caroline (2013) From Eros to Eschaton: Herbert Marcuse’s liberation of time. Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary, Winter (165). pp. 91-114. ISSN 0090-6514

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This article explores what Gershom Scholem has called Herbert Marcuse’s “unacknowledged ties to [his] Jewish heritage.” At the core of Marcuse’s vision of transformed, non-repressive social relations is a struggle over time, which rests upon a distinctly Jewish approach to the twin questions of remembrance and redemption. One example of this approach is the temporal dialectic between alienated labor time and the timelessness of pleasure’s desire for eternity which underpins Marcuse’s analysis in Eros and Civilisation (1956). This dialectic rests upon Marcuse’s reading of the Freudian opposition between life-affirming Eros and the death drive; which he traces through a phylogenetic reading of primal society’s recurring crime of patricide that continues to haunt advanced industrial capitalism.

I argue that we should read Marcuse’s privileging of the Freudian Eros-Thanatos dualism as tacitly redefining political struggle through the affirmation of a redemptive model of cyclical time, which responds to a Jewish apocalyptic-utopian tradition. I consider the ways in which Marcuse’s later writings in such texts as “Liberation from the Affluent Society” (1968) An Essay on Liberation (1969), Five Lectures (1970) and Counter-Revolution and Revolt (1972) reveal the liberation of time to be grounded in the uncovering of nature’s “erotic cathexis.” Cyclical time thus offers Marcuse an Orphic recourse with which to confront the linear time of advanced industrial capitalism. In reading Marcuse’s delinearization of time through a reformulated understanding of Judeo-Christian eschatology, I conclude, we are afforded a fuller account of the way in which time underpins Marcuse’s appeals to utopia.

Keywords:Herbert Marcuse, secularism, post-secularism, philosophy, continental philosophy, Marxism, utopian thinking, apocalypticism, refnypd
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V610 Theology
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:7097
Deposited On:14 Dec 2012 10:49

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