Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Aronowitz, Stanley. "The Ignored Philosopher and Social Theorist: the Work of Henri Lefebvre." SITUATIONS 2.1 (2007)
THE ANGLO-AMERICAN reception of Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) is a classic case of mis-recognition. Although he has been called a sociologist, an urbanist, and a social theorist, he has rarely been understood as a philosopher. The recently translated third volume of the Critique of Everyday Life should correct past impressions, not only because Lefebvre himself subtitles the book 'Toward a meta-philosophy of everyday life,' but the work makes original contributions to philosophy. It is not excessive to claim that he is the ecophilosopher of the 21st century, for he made the connection between the massive despoiling of the global ecosystems, the new shape of social time and social space and the struggle for the transformation of everyday life which, he claims, is the key to the project of changing life and repairing our collective relationship to nature. Lefebvre’s creative work spanned most of the 20th century and after World War II, he was a leading French intellectual who wrote on a wide array of subjects that transgressed the disciplines, especially the relation of philosophy to the social sciences and art. He also argued against the confinement of knowledge by disciplinary conventions. For decades marxists, sociologists and others in the social sciences and philosophy ignored him, not mainly because most of his writing remained un-translated but because he could not be easily classified within the existing disciplinary predispositions. And he suffered a paradoxical fate: during the Cold War era as a Marxist he was excluded from mainstream commentary in the US by an academic establishment that was incapable of distinguishing between dogma and creativity. When his writing was appropriated at all it had to fit narrowly into the conventions of the disciplines and as a result he was classified most comfortably as a sociologist, a designation that inevitably distorted the substance of his work. . . . Read the rest here: http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/situations/article/view/175/207.