Georg Lukács and the Possibility of Critical Social Ontology


Georg Lukács was one of the most important intellectuals and philosophers of the 20th century. His last great work was an systematic social ontology that was an attempt to ground an ethical and critical form of Marxism. This work has only now begun to attract the interest of critical theorists and philosophers intent on reconstructing a critical theory of society as well as a more sophisticated framework for Marxian philosophy. This collection of essays explores the concept of critical social ontology as it was outlined by Georg Lukács and the ways that his ideas can help us construct a more grounded and socially relevant form of social critique.

This work will of special interest to social, moral and political philosophers as well as those who study critical theory, social theory and Marxism. It is also of interest to those working within the area of social ontology.

Contributors include: Mario Duayer, Andreas Giesbert, Christoph Henning, Antonino Infranca, Reha Kadakal, Endre Kiss, Michael Morris, Michalis Skomvoulis, Matthew J. Smetona, Titus Stahl, Thomas Telios, Michael J. Thompson, Murillo van der Laan, Miguel Vedda, Claudius Vellay.

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Michael J. Thompson is Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Political Science at William Paterson University (USA). He received a BA in Languages and Literature from Rutgers College, studied sociology and philosophy at Humboldt Universität in Berlin, and earned his Ph.D. in Political Science at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His books include The Politics of Inequality (Columbia, 2017), The Domestication of Critical Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016), The Specter of Babel: A Reconstruction of Political Judgment (SUNY Press, 2019) as well as the forthcoming, Twilight of the Self: The Eclipse of Autonomy in Modern Society (Stanford).

Part 1: Fundamental Aspects of Lukács’ Ontology of Social Being

 1 Ontology and Labor in the Lukács’ Late Thought
Antonino Infranca and Miguel Vedda
 2 Lukács and the Reshaping of Marxism: From Hartmann’s to Lukács’ Ontology
Endre Kiss
 3 Lukács’ Ontology of Social Being and the Material Basis of Intentionality
Matthew J. Smetona

Part 2: Hegelian-Marxist Dimensions of Lukács’ Social Ontology

 4 György Lukács’ Ontological Interpretation of Marx’s Labor Theory of Value
Murillo van der Laan
 5 The Ontology of Alienation: Lukács’ Normative Theory of History
Andreas Giesbert
 6 Lukács’ Late Appropriation of Hegel’s Philosophy: The Ontology of Materialist Dialectics and the Complexities of Labor as Teleological Positing
Michalis Skomvoulis

Part 3: Lukács’ Social Ontology and Contemporary Philosophy

 7 On the “Constitution of Human Society”: Lukács’ versus Searle’s Social Ontology
Claudius Vellay
 8 Why Still Reification? Toward a Critical Social Ontology
Thomas Telios
 9 Unlikely Affinities: J.L. Borges, Kuhn, Lakatos and Ontological Critique
Mario Duayer
 10 The Politics of Nature, Left and Right: Comparing the Ontologies of Georg Lukács and Bruno Latour
Christoph Henning

Part 4: Toward a Critical Social Ontology

 11 From Critical Theory to Critical Ontology: Back to Lukács!
Michael Morris
 12 Normativity and Totality: Lukács’ Contribution to a Critical Social Ontology
Titus Stahl
 13 Lukács and the Problem of Knowledge: Critical Ontology as Social Theory
Reha Kadakal
 14 Marx, Lukács and the Groundwork for Critical Social Ontology
Michael J. Thompson

Readers interested in this book will include scholars in critical theory, sociology, social theory, social ontology, political theory, continental philosophy, Marxism, and literary studies.