International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Volume | Article


The ethical demands of reification

Richard Westerman

pp. 51-88


Considering recent failed attempts to derive an ethical theory from Georg Lukács’s original formulation of reification, this paper offers an alternative more rooted in Lukács’s theory as a whole. By analyzing his critique of the empty Ought in Kant and Fichte, followed by his advocacy of substantial, materially-grounded Oughts in his late Ontology, I suggest that we can nevertheless find latent possibilities for grounding such values even in his theory of reification. Drawing on recent interpretations of Lukács that emphasize his debt to Neo-Kantianism, Husserl et al, I argue that one of Lukács’s central critiques of reification is precisely its expulsion of substantial values from formal social relationships. This implies, I suggest, a structural demand to reincorporate such values within relations, so that they might reach valid form; I conclude with some suggestions on the ethical demands this might entail.

Publication details

Published in:

Jurga Saulius, Kavoulakos Konstantinos (2021) Reification. Metodo 9 (2).

Pages: 51-88

DOI: 10.19079/metodo.9.2.51

Full citation:

Westerman Richard (2021) „The ethical demands of reification“. Metodo 9 (2), 51–88.