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Theory, Practices and (Re)Readings
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Abstract

After breaking with the communist party Henri Lefebvre adopts a non-dogmatic interpretation of historical materialism in his article “Vers un romantisme revolutionnaire” (1957). Lefebvre’s position has parallels in the 1920s and 1930s in Walter Benjamin’s works among others. The starting-point is a critical attitude in regard to an uncompromising ideology of progress and the evolutionary belief in progress. For Lefebvre and Benjamin one aspect of modern times is that hitherto certain and generally valid codes as an inherent part of knowledge and social practice are disintegrating. An increasingly abstract world leaves the individual without orientation and an easy prey to conditioning. The general loss of coherence entails that man’s links to nature and to his own past get lost. Restricted to a mythical consciousness, the individual becomes the plaything of the ruling classes and their interests. Technological progress turns into an uncontrollable weapon. In the name of pre-modern social positions and values both Lefebvre and Benjamin plead against the “Entzauberung der Welt” (Max Weber) and against the “entgotterte Natur” (Friedrich Schiller), insisting on the visionary character of the revolt. By turning to the past man can attempt to recover remnants of his paradisiacal origins, he can avoid losing contact with his own history and develop perspectives for the future from his experience and analysis. Key terms like “Eingedenken, Jetztzeit, Momente, Residuen, Phantasmagorie, Utopie” guide this comparison of common and divergent positions of Henri Lefebvre and Walter Benjamin. The aim is the revolutionary demand for the interruption of continuing development and the withdrawal from the fatal course of history.

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Abstract

The contribution discusses the basic principles of spatial poeticity in regard to two of the most influential thinkers of space in the 20th century: Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) and Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991). Their relevance of their writings for the topic of space is due to the fact that they do not conceive it as a physical, stable entity, but as a dynamic result of various factors. While Bachelard is adopted especially within literary studies, Lefebvre is read mostly within Architecture, Geography, Philosophy and Sociology. Nevertheless, both French authors within the span of 16 years only published a monograph on finally the same topic: As already the titles of Bachelard’s La poetique de l’espace from 1957 as well as Lefebvre’s La production de l’espace from 1974 tell, they both treat the creation of space (since the Greek poiein means the same as the Latin producere). An attempt to overcome the desideratum of using both approaches for the studies of spatiality is suggested by first of all comparing Lefebvre’s dialectical model of space with Bachelard’s account of implicit notions of spatial forms in philosophical texts, before defining the basic similarity of their approaches in a topological notion of space.