By Max Horkheimer
Those essays, written among 1949 and 1967, specialize in a unmarried topic: the triumph within the 20th century of the state-bureaucratic equipment and ‘instrumental cause’ and the concomitant liquidation of the person and the fundamental social associations and relationships linked to the person.
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The disobedience to family and society which a woman might unquestioningly accept for love’s sake despite her having been educated and destined for service, her ability to love in contradiction to the world’s norms, was not simply one factor but the dominant trait in the picture of the young girl and even of the mother; it marked her inner being no less than her outward behavior. No poetry gave fuller expression to this aspect of woman than did the German, in which the unconditionedness, the irreversibility, the imminence of death gave love its sweetness.
Alfred Schmidt. Without his understanding and dedication this volume could not have appeared. MAX HORKHEIMER May, 1967 THE CONCEPT OF MAN (1957) When contemporary philosophers speak of man, they seldom fail to note that the fundamental philosophical problem, the problem of being as such, is inseparable from the problem of man. At least in Europe in recent times, philosophy, including existentialism (the philosophy of concrete existence) is characterized by the fact that in it the doctrine of being as such arises, if not objectively, then at any rate in the process of reflection, only after the effort to win insight into man.
This is the hidden reason for cultural decay: that men cannot use their power over nature for the rational disposition of the earth but must, under force of circumstance and inescapable manipulation, surrender to blind individual and national egoism. This is why the whole apparatus of amusement and education, including the human studies, becomes an empty activity; this is why everyone is looking for meaning. The whole has lost its sense of direction and, in its restless movement, serves itself instead of men.