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By Jean-Marie Vincent

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It is nonetheless difficult to remain satisfied with their negative position on reason, which they confuse, essentially, with subjective reason which dominates in its claim but is dominated in its realisations. Rationality is not only the cognitive, instrumental and strategic rationality of individual consciousness, closed in upon itself, and which measures itself against others and against the world; it is also, and especially, communicative reason which manifests itself in and through both interaction and the networks of language.

From the standpoint of a certain 'classical' Marxism, there is apparently nothing to be criticised in this conception, which places the accent on labour as individual accomplishment (and there are plenty of direct quotations from Marx and Engels which could be summoned as evidence on this point). However, it can and should be asked whether the labour of which Lukacs speaks time and again does not hypostatise an anthropological premise, namely, that people are necessarily in a dynamic relationship with their environment, even while attributing to this supposition a historically situated, transitory content.

I have preferred it to XXX Translator's Note xxxi 'sensuous' and 'sensual' which are also frequently used to convey this notion. My thanks to Jean-Marie Vincent for his patient explanations of the more difficult passages and to Belinda Dutton of Macmillan for her encouragement. C. Introduction In the following pages I have sought to trace as closely as possible the major problems of our time. But I do not define them according to the dominant currents of thought at the present moment, since these are frequently steeped in reactive - not to say reactionary - passion with respect to the recent past; or else they are fraught with disabused resignation to the accomplished facts of the present and the aberrant paths taken by contemporary societies.

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