Lukács and the Life-Immanence of Meaning

As György Márkus stated, culture was the „sole” thought in Lukács’s life. In this essay, I try to rethink this well-known thesis. For Lukács, culture appears as a matter of meaningful life, or in other words, as the question of the life-immanence of meaning: culture is only possible in an age of history where life itself has been already formed, that is where the form-giving faces a material not alien to it. The opposition of matter and form signifies an emptying of the social world of meaningful complexes that unleashes its antinomies. This antinomic world age is described in the young Lukács’s masterpiece The Theory of the Novel. The revolutionary vision of History and Class Consciousness in response promises the rebuilding of the lost totality, the life-immanence of meaning. In the 1930s, in a new post-revolutionary era, the theory of realism also responds to this complex of problems: in the spirit of reconciliation with reality, thus in this regard broken with the vision of History and Class Consciousness, Lukács comes up with the requirement of a realistic novel that would have as its vocation the mimetic representation of the immanent meaning of the totality of the bourgeois age. A program that was not proven by history. 

Released: Replika 119–120, 265–291.