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Chessick, R.D. (1993). Implications for Contemporary Psychoanalysis in the Work of Georg Lukács. Contemp. Psychoanal., 29:237-250.

(1993). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 29:237-250

Implications for Contemporary Psychoanalysis in the Work of Georg Lukács

Richard D. Chessick, M.D.

IN THIS PAPER I WILL REVIEW some of the ideas of Georg Lukács, a brilliant thinker, theoretician and critic, that still have contemporary value for psychoanalysis and philosophy. This is true despite the inconsistencies, ambiguities, and many recantations in Lukács's writings. Lukács (1885–1971) is known as a major figure of western Marxism, a term coined by Merleau-Ponty to designate a philosophical position that hoped to refurbish and improve on Marx's reductionistic vision of the proletarian revolution as a historical necessity. The book that gave Lukács his reputation, History and Class Consciousness(1982), was actually repudiated by him, and the work he regarded as his greatest intellectual work, the volumes on Ontology, are almost completely unread and unreadable.

Kadarkay's recent (1991) biography of Lukács is not as good as the classic works on Lukács by Parkinson (1977) and on the young Lukács by Congdon (1983) and Gluck (1985), especially because it becomes confused on his politics and is unclear as an exposition of his thought. In a way this is forgivable, because Lukács changed his mind many times, often under the rule of political oppressors in order to save his life. Also, one of the greatest weaknesses of Lukács's thought is that he tends to politicize every issue and wrap it in Marxist jargon, which makes reading him tedious. Part of this I believe is because Lukács, perhaps like Gorbachev to whom he has been compared, was constantly torn between liberalization and holding on to absolute orthodoxy, and uncertain of where he himself stood.

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