Herbert Marcuse

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Marcuse, Herbert

(märko͞o`zə), 1898–1979, U.S. political philosopher, b. Berlin. He was educated at the Univ. of Freiburg and with Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer founded the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research. A special target of the Nazis because of his Jewish origins and Marxist politics, he emigrated (1934) to the United States and became a naturalized citizen in 1940. Marcuse served with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and later taught at Harvard, Columbia, and Brandeis before becoming (1965) professor of philosophy at the Univ. of California at San Diego. He is best known for his attempt to synthesize Marxian and Freudian theories into a comprehensive critique of modern industrial society. In One Dimensional Man (1964), his most popular book, he argued for a sexual basis to the social and political repression in contemporary America; the book made him a hero of New Left radicals and provided a rationale for the student revolts of the 1960s in the United States and Europe. His other works include Reason and Revolution (1941), Eros and Civilization (1955), An Essay on Liberation (1969), and Counterrevolution and Revolt (1972).


See studies by A. MacIntyre (1970), P. Mattick (1972), J. Woddis (1972), C. Fred Alford (1985), and P. Line (1985); R. Wolin, Heidegger's Children (2001).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Marcuse, Herbert


Born July 19, 1898, in Berlin. German-American philosopher and sociologist.

With T. Adorno and M. Horkheimer, Marcuse founded the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research. He has lived in the USA since 1934. During World War II he worked in the news agencies of the American intelligence service, writing antifascist articles. Marcuse was an “expert” at the Russian Institute at Columbia University and at the Russian Center at Harvard University during the 1950’s. A professor at Brandeis University from 1954 to 1965, he has taught at the University of California since 1965.

Marcuse’s views were formed under the influence of the ideas of M. Heidegger and, especially, of Hegel and Freud. At the same time, he manifested an unflagging interest in the teachings of Marx, extensively utilizing his categories and certain of his ideas, which he often interpreted in the spirit of modern bourgeois philosophy and sociology. According to Marcuse, the development of science and technology makes it possible for the ruling class of contemporary capitalist society to form, through the mechanism of needs, a new type of mass, “one-dimensional man” with an atrophied capacity for social criticism. Thus, the capitalist ruling class is able “to restrain and prevent social changes.” Under the impact of “false” needs imposed on it, the working class of the developed capitalist countries enters the race to consume, becomes “integrated” into the social whole, and loses its revolutionary role. Thus, according to Marcuse, the revolutionary initiative in “developed” society passes to “outsiders” (members of the lumpenproletariat, persecuted national minorities, and the unemployed, for example), as well as to radical strata of the students and the humanitarian intelligentsia. On a worldwide scale the bearers of revolutionary initiative are the unfortunate masses of the “poor” countries, who stand in opposition to the “rich” countries, which, in Marcuse’s view, include both the imperialist and the developed socialist countries.

Viewing the institutions of bourgeois democracy as tools for the nonviolent suppression of opposition, Marcuse insists upon the “radical rejection” of legal forms of struggle as a “parliamentary game.” He denies the revolutionary role of the Marxist parties of the developed capitalist countries, as well as the revolutionary essence of their political programs. In objective terms, Marcuse’s Utopia, which is a manifestation of a variety of “post-industrial” romanticism, promotes the disunity and disorientation of anticapitalist forces.


Hegels Ontologie und die Grundlegung einer Theorie der Geschichtlichkeit. Frankfurt Am Main, 1932.
Reason and Revolution. London, 1941.
Eros and Civilization. Boston, 1955.
Soviet Marxism, a Critical Analysis. London, 1958.
One-Dimensional Man. Boston, 1964.
A Critique of Pure Tolerance. Boston, 1965. (With B. Moore and R. Wolff.)
Das Ende der Utopie. Berlin, 1967.
An Essay on Liberation. Boston, 1969.
Counterrevolution and Revolt. Boston, 1972.


Zamoshkin, Iu. A., and N. V. Motroshilova. “Kritichna li ’kriticheskaia teoriia obshchestva’ G. Markuze.” Voprosy filosofii, 1968, no. 10.
Batalov, E. Ia. Filosofiia bunta. Moscow, 1973.
Krasin, Iu. A. “Markuzianstvo v tupike protivorechii.” Voprosy filosofii, 1973, no. 6.
Steigerwald, R. Tretii put’ Gerberta Markuze. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from German.)
Woddis, J. New Theories of Revolution. London, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Marcuse, Herbert

(1898–1979) political philosopher; born in Berlin, Germany. Fleeing Hitler, he came to the U.S.A. in 1934 and was naturalized in 1940; much of his career was spent at Brandeis University (1954–65) and the University of California: San Diego (1965–70). A committed but critical Marxist, he made a synthesis of Marx and Freud in Eros and Civilization (1955). After the publication of One-Dimensional Man (1964), which criticized capitalist societies as repressive, he won notoriety as an inspiration to and apologist for the New Left movement of the 1960s. He retired in La Jolla, Calif., continuing to travel and lecture; in 1971 he was shouted down by European radicals, and he died in Germany where he had gone to lecture.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Esto correspondera al pensamiento de Herbert Marcuse, mas de cien anos despues; pero ya cuando se hayan desarrollado todas las tendencias unidimensionales, vislumbradas de manera tan genial por Tocqueville.
Wright Mills, Hannah Arendt, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse. But even as they note in passing Arendt's admission that it was wrong to interpret American society through the prism of Nazi Germany, they fail to consider its larger implication that imported "radical ideas" needed to be rethought in an American context.
For the new radicals likewise, I believe there is no equivalent foundational text, although there may be something like the Communist Manifesto in the form of Herbert Marcuse's call to action, "Repressive Tolerance" (1965).
Nick Thorkelson tackles the formidable task of distilling the life and work of a respected modern philosopher into a well-paced graphic biography in Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia.
En "Herbert Marcuse (1898-1970)", texto por igual inedito que viene a ser una prolongacion de lo planteado en el anterior, Gutierrez Girardot define a Marcuse como el filosofo "partisano" de la moderna sociedad industrial, tras enfatizar una vez mas en que su pensamiento "constituye una armonizacion de las grandes corrientes del pensamiento aleman del siglo pasado y del presente", entendiendo por "presente", al modo en que ad portas del ascenso del nacionalsocialismo en 1932, escribio un ensayo sobre los Manuscritos economico-filosoficos de 1844 de Marx, a partir de claves interpretativas que tomo del metodo fenomenologico de Heidegger.
Quando Herbert Marcuse trocou a Universidade de Brandeis, em Waltham/Boston, Massachusetts, onde lecionara de 1954 a 1965, pela Universidade da California (UCSD), em San Diego, talvez nao imaginasse que seu nome estaria indelevelmente ligado aos intensos movimentos que atravessaram a sociedade estadunidense, principalmente na segunda metade de 1960.
Herbert Marcuse's 1938 essay "On Hedonism" also attacks eudaemonism, albeit from a different perspective.
As an undergraduate at Brandeis University, she began studying with the philosopher and social theorist Herbert Marcuse, who also supervised her graduate work at the University of California, San Diego.
With this purpose, Alderson firstly defines his socialist humanist framework through Herbert Marcuse, Raymond Williams and Alan Sinfield, which he does so as to determine whether radical stands are still present in (queer) counterculture and subculture under neoliberalism.
It must have something to do with the great tide of moral libertarianism from Herbert Marcuse on down.