Marx’s Call for a World-Changing Philosophy: Herbert Marcuse’s Concept of Liberation

In his books, Reason and Revolution and One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse develops a conception of the liberation of man which is basically a creative and sympathetic yet critical interpretation of Marx. His work is of significant interest as a study of the historical development of Marxism. His conception of the liberation of man is of particular interest for the analysis of the theological concept of liberation.
Marcuse’s view of liberation is based on human autonomy rather than “the freedom of the man of God”, which “has nothing to do with autonomy … and … does not stand opposed to submission to God” (Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God, pp. 313, 320). The structure of Marcuse’s argument does, however, provide a valuable context for an analysis of the theological concept of liberation.
Marcuse stresses that liberation is grounded in the truth, that there is a tension between the truth and its practice and that there is a tension between the notion of liberation and its possibilities of historical realization.
Each of these aspects has its parallel in a theological concept of liberation which relates present practice to both its foundation and its expectation.

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