Critical Theories and the Budapest School brings together new perspectives on the Budapest School in the context of contemporary developments in critical theory. Engaging with the work of the prominent group of figures associated with Georg Lukács, this book sheds new light on the unique and nuanced critiques of modernity offered by this school, informed as its members’ insights have been by first-hand experiences of Nazism, Soviet-type societies, and the liberal-democratic West.

With studies of topics central to contemporary critical theory, such as the political and historical consciousness of modernity, the importance of bio-politics, the complexity of the human condition, and the relevance of comedy and friendship to developing critical perspectives, the authors draw on the works of Ágnes Heller, Maria Márkus, György Márkus, and Ferenc Fehér, demonstrating their enduring relevance to critical theory today and the ways in which these philosophers can inform new perspectives on culture and politics.

An innovative reassessment of the Budapest School and the importance of its legacy, this book opens a much-needed and neglected dialogue with other schools and traditions of critical theorizing that will be of interest to scholars of sociology, philosophy, and social theory.

chapter |11 pages


The Budapest School and its legacies: Migration, modernity, philosophy

part I|50 pages

A School? Or its homecoming in migration

chapter 3|14 pages

Criticism and aesthetics

Ferenc Fehér’s views on art

part II|109 pages

From critique of totalitarianism to critique of political modernity

chapter 4|19 pages

The Budapest School on totalitarianism

Toward a new version of the critical theory

chapter 5|18 pages

The critical power of needs

The radical potential in Márkus’s and Heller’s philosophical anthropology

chapter 6|20 pages

Praxis beyond the political

György Márkus contra Hannah Arendt

chapter 7|20 pages

Pathways to the ‘Open Utopia’

Heller and Fehér on Lukács’s messianic Marxism

chapter 8|17 pages

Adventures in biopolitics

chapter 9|15 pages

The absolute present of historical consciousness

Ágnes Heller between the postmodern and the contemporary

part III|110 pages

Critical theories and the Budapest School

chapter 10|15 pages

Philosophy in the times of late modernity

Reflections on György Márkus’s Culture, Science, Society

chapter 11|20 pages

Ágnes Heller’s theory of action

The incompleteness of the human being

chapter 13|22 pages

Existential choice as existential comedy

Ágnes Heller’s wager

chapter 14|23 pages

The comic political condition

Ágnes Heller’s philosophy of laughter and liberty

chapter 15|21 pages

The image of the ‘good friend’ in Heller

A bridge between everyday life and transcendence