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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Hegel’s philosophy exerted a magnetic attraction on the various thinkers that comprise the Frankfurt school. This chapter aims to gauge and specify the relation that three members of the ‘inner circle’ of the Frankfurt school (Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse) have to Hegel. It concludes that the young Horkheimer is a Hegelian-Marxist who endorses a qualified Hegelianism, while claiming that Hegel’s idealist metaphysics had become obsolete and superseded by a combination of sociology, psychology, and materialist historiography. Adorno remains a more committed Hegelian (and a Marxist-Hegelian) who sees his own dialectical approach to philosophy as emerging from and consistent with an immanent criticism of Hegel. Both, however, tend to reject Hegel’s philosophy of objective spirit as conservative apology for the Prussian state. Marcuse, by contrast, is a Hegelian-Marxist who has a more scholarly, nuanced, and charitable approach to Hegel, placing more emphasis on the critical moment in Hegel’s conception of reason.

Keywords: Hegel, Frankfurt school, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, dialectic, Marxism

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