(The book written in collaboration in collaboration with F...)
The book written in collaboration in collaboration with Ferenc Feher argues against the majority of premises and conclusions of the antinuclear argument as existed in 1986 when this study was first published.
(The main purpose of this book is to explicate the problem...)
The main purpose of this book is to explicate the problematic relationship between the heterogeneity of what is experienced as beautiful and the homogeneity of the conceptualization of that experience or attempt at such a conceptualization in the era of modern philosophy.
Agnes Heller is a Hungarian political philosopher, educator, and author who was a Marxist at the beginning and then adopted a social-democratic position. She also focuses on Hegelian philosophy, ethics, and existentialism.
Agnes Heller was born on May 12, 1929, in Budapest, Hungary into a middle-class family. She is a daughter of Paul Heller, a lawyer, and Angela Heller (maiden name Ligeti), a homemaker.
During the Second World War, Heller’s father helped people to collect the documents necessary to emigrate from Nazi Europe. In 1944, he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where he died before the end of the conflict. Agnes and her mother managed to flee the deportation.
The early life of Agnes Heller was shaped by the events of World War II and the terrors of the Nazi genocide that killed millions of Europeans who, like her, were of Jewish heritage. She also witnessed Hungary’s emergence from after the war as a Communist nation, part of the Soviet sphere (a popular anticommunist uprising in 1956 was ruthlessly quashed).
As a young woman during these turbulent years, Heller studied under the philosopher Georg Lukács at the Eötvös Loránd University. She first began studying physics and chemistry. Eventually, she shifted to philosophy when one of her friends pushed her to attend the lecture of the philosopher György Lukács.
Agnes Heller started her professional career in 1952 as an assistant to Georg Lukács at Eötvös Loránd University. By 1955, she had become a full teacher.
During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Lukács, Heller and other critical theorists of Marxism adopted the idea that the method, as well as socialism, had to be applied individually to different nations, so, the role of the Soviet Union in Hungary's future was also in question. It contradicted the new Moscow-supported government of János Kádár, and Heller was dismissed from the University in 1958. The five following years, she earned her living as a secondary school teacher.
In 1963, Heller joined the new philosophical Budapest School formed by Lukács to restore the Marxist criticism in the face of practiced and theoretical socialism. The same time, Heller was invited to serve as a researcher at the Sociological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
After the death of Budapest School’s leader in 1971, its members lost their jobs and were taken under the official surveillance and general harassment. To flee this political persecution, Agnes Heller and her husband Ferenc Fehér relocated to Australia in a couple of years.
While in the country, Heller found a post at La Trobe University in Melbourne where she lectured on philosophy and sociology from 1973 to 1985. The couple also took part in the transformation of the academic journal ‘Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology’ from a labourist journal to the most important Australian journal of social theory.
Heller has authored a number of books written in Hungarian, many of which have been translated into English. Most dealt with philosophical matters, and some have been written with Ferenc Feher. For many years, however, Heller worked and wrote under rather difficult conditions – her writings were obliged to fall within the constraints of Marxist doctrine.
The first of Heller’s books to appear in English translation was the 1976 volume ‘The Theory of Need in Marx’. In it, the writer examined one of the cornerstones of the theories of nineteenth-century German philosopher Karl Marx: the removal of ‘need’ from society, the abolition of all human want. Another of Heller’s works dating from this era was ‘Renaissance Man’, published in London in 1978. It examined two centuries of European history and social change. The equal topics were continued in ‘A Theory of History’, issued in 1981. The same year, Heller’s ‘Theory of Feelings’ also appeared in English translation. In total, all philosopher’s writings from this era formed a distinct body of new Marxist thinking.
In 1986, Agnes Heller and her husband relocated to the United States where they joined the professor’s staff of the New School in New York City.
With the collapse of Soviet communism between 1989 and 1991, Marxist concepts could be examined in a new light by writers in Eastern Europe. Heller, with Feher, attempted such a re-examination in the 1991 book ‘From Yalta to Glasnost: The Dismantling of Stalin's Empire’. Heller revisited the topic of a post-communist Europe in another joint work with Feher published the same year. ‘The Grandeur and Twilight of Radical Universalism’ was a collection of essays about religion and postmodernism and demonstrated the evolution of Heller and Ferenc’s philosophy.
A Professor Emeritus, Agnes Heller is still actively involved in academic and political fields. The topics of her recent researches include ethics, Shakespeare, aesthetics, political theory, modernity, and the role of Central Europe in historical events. The author continues to publish her new works internationally as well as to reissue the translations of her previous writings in English.
Agnes Heller joined the Communist Party in 1947. Two years later, she was excluded for her rejection of the total allegiance to Democratic centralism. After the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, she was expelled for the second time.
In 1963, Heller joined the Budapest School which had supported reformist attitudes towards socialism till the events of the 1968 Prague Spring. Then, the philosopher adopted the idea about the entire corruption of the Eastern European regimes and that reformist theory was apologist.
Agnes Heller has been censured for her criticism of right wing politicians, including Viktor Orbán, whom she considers as a dictatorial and antisemitic figure.
In 2006, Heller took sides with the Hungarian Socialist Party, known as MSZP. She supported Ferenc Gyurcsány’s movement, the Demokratikus Charta (Democratic Charta), considering it as the only way to overcome Hungarian antisemitism.
"The three major events shaping my life and philosophy were the Holocaust, my encounter with Georg Lukács, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. These are the sources of my philosophy which I have described for decades as Marxist humanism, which I now would reluctantly place under any heading of any ‘ism’. My ideas are based on the same regulative idea: emancipated humankind."
Agnes Heller has been a member of the Budapest School and the Société Européenne de Culture (European Society of Culture).
Quotes from others about the person
"[Agnes Heller and Ferenc Feher] belong to a noble family of spirits who, in the harsh conditions of state socialism, tried against all odds to give a good name to the Marxian vision of man and history. In doing so they contributed to the awakening of politically and intellectually rebellious currents in Hungary and Poland." Vladimir Tismaneanu, political scientist, analyst, and sociologist
"In her work on feelings, social change, politics, philosophy, and everyday life, she has quietly but firmly established a female voice in mainstream and classical social theory." Bryan S. Turner, sociologist
reading, listening to music, enjoying nature, communicating with children and friends
Agnes Heller married Istvan Hermann on September 9, 1949. Later the couple divorced later, and on March 15, 1963, Heller married her second husband, Ferenc Feher. He died on June 17, 1994. Heller has two children - Susanna and George.