The Forms of Social Reality

  • Richard Westerman
Part of the Political Philosophy and Public Purpose book series (POPHPUPU)


Westerman argues that Lukács interprets social being as an interlocking set of intentional practices, governed by an overarching formal logic. People and objects exist in society as complexes of meaning; their meaning is determined independently of their material existence, and is not the projection of a subject. Applying the model gleaned from Lukács’s Heidelberg drafts on art, Westerman identifies three levels of Lukács’s argument. Phenomenologically, individual objects are defined by intentional practices that govern the way subjects relate to them; the commodity, Lukács argues, is the site of a dichotomous intentionality. Second, these individual meanings are governed by a specific principle of validity that generates an ontic social reality, or way the world is understood as operating in the everyday lives of those within it. Third, this is founded on an ontological account of the way any objective reality appears as coherent from a particular subjective standpoint. Ontologically, therefore, social reality is a totality in which the relations between subject and object are determined by an asubjective logical form.


  1. 1.
    Feenberg, Andrew. 1981. Lukács, Marx, and the Sources of Critical Theory. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    ———. 1981. Culture and Practice in the Early Marxist Work of Lukács. Berkeley Journal of Sociology 26: 27–40.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    ———. 2014. The Philosophy of Praxis: Marx, Lukács, and the Frankfurt School. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Habermas, Jürgen. 1987. Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Trans. Frederick G. Lawrence. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Lukács, Georg. 1968–81. György Márkus and Frank Benseler, ed. W. Werke. 18 vols. Darmstadt: Luchterhand.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    ———. 1971. History and Class Consciousness. Trans. Rodney Livingstone. London: Merlin.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    ———. 1983. Record of a Life. Trans. Rodney Livingstone, ed. Istvan Eörsi. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Marx, Karl. 1954. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Trans. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, 3 vols. Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Postone, Moishe. 1993. Time, Labour, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Riegl, Alois. 1985. Late Roman Art Industry, [LRAI]. Trans. Rolf Winkes. Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider Editore.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Simmel, Georg. 2009 [1908]. Sociology: Inquiries into the Construction of Social Forms. Trans. Anthony J. Blasi, Anton K. Jacobs and Mathew Kanjirathinkal, 2 vols. Leiden/Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    ———. 1950. The Stranger. In The Sociology of Georg Simmel. Trans. Kurt Wolff, 402–408. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    ———. 2004. The Philosophy of Money. Trans. Tom Bottomore, David Frisby and Kaethe Mengelberg. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Weber, Max. 1978. Economy & Society. Trans. G. Roth and C. Wittich, 2 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    ———. 1992. The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism. Trans. Talcott Parsons. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wood, Margaret Mary. 1934. The Stranger: A Study in Social Relationships. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Westerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations