False Consciousness: An Essay on Reification,

by Joseph Gabel, 1962
translated by Margaret and Kenneth Thompson, published by Harper & Row, 1975

The Problem of Alienation
Part I: False Consciousness and Ideology

Observations about the schizophrenic nature of political ideologies arise periodically in polemical discussions. The presence of these de-realist structures appears on analysis as one aspect of a more general phenomenon whose role in Marxist philosophy has often — and unjustly — been neglected. The 'obscuration' by Marxian orthodoxy of the importance of the ideological phenomenon is itself one aspect of the ideologization of Marxism. In other words, it is one aspect of its transformation into a political doctrine, forced to reify its goals by the play of the underlying social psychological structures, and thus testifying to the generality of the phenomenon of false consciousness.

By emphasizing the importance of this phenomenon (the question as to whether and to what extent he was the first to describe it is beyond my scope), Marx was not only one of the founders of political psychology, but a forerunner in another field: the study of 'de-realist' thought. 'Mental derangement' in psychopathology is one aspect of this general phenomenon. There certainly exists an animal psychiatry; but man alone is capable of having states of delirium, just as he is the only being for whom authentic consciousness — which is the result of a dialectical transcendence over false consciousness — is not (whatever Bergson may say) an immediate given, but a conquest, achieved only gradually in the process of individual maturation.

The problem of false consciousness is not merely central to Marxian doctrine, it constitutes its entire framework; a great many — if not all — of the problems that Marxist thought poses are, in the last analysis, problems of false consciousness. A Marxist theory of mental derangement is not therefore an 'external' application of Marxism to a scientific problem (e.g. ' dialectical materialism and mathematics') but rather a kind of quintessential explanation: as a dialectical criticism of ideology, Marxism is already in fact a theory of mental derangement. The rise of totalitarian thought confirms the validity and even the actuality of this part of Marxist theory, whereas there remains so little of real value in Marx's economic thought, once considered central to his system [the history of capitalist crisis since 1973 has proven Gabel fabulously wrong on this last point - ISR].

B. Croce entitled one of his books : Ce qui est vivant et ce qui est mort dans la philosophie de Hegel (What is Living and What is Dead in Hegel's Philosophy). If one were to raise the same question about Marx, the response would undoubtedly be that the doctrine of alienation is clearly the living part of his whole system: the fact of totalitarianism on the one hand, and the actuality of the problem of schizoplrrenia on the other, confirm the validity of this part of Marxist theory.

However, the conceptual framework of the theory of alienation is not free from equivocation. This seems to be the current fate of doctrines that combine reflection and militant politics. It is perhaps stating the obvious to point out as Jacubowski' did that the 'social existence' (Soziales Sein) of the Marxists is not synonymous with infrastructure; without stating this explicitly, certain parts of Marxist orthodoxy postulate this synonymy. It is obvious that the fact of belonging to a national group in 1789 constituted for the French working class one element of its 'social existence' which determined to a large extent the forms of action it took; it would clearly be wrong to talk about infrastructure in this connection. In theory the terms 'ideology' and ' false consciousness' are corollaries ('ideology is a process that the so-called thinker accomplishes doubtless consciously, but with a false consciousness,’ wrote Engels). But here again — apart from the imprecision of the statement — this is only a relative truth. If ideology is by definition dependent on false consciousness, the inverse is not always true: racist consciousness, the height of false consciousness, existed as such before finding ideological expression. The ideological character of scientific theories also raises a particular problem. By emphasizing the social determinism (Seinsgebundenheit) of science, the sociology of knowledge allows the elements of a false consciousness to be discerned (the scientist's work 'objectively' expresses his social equation when subjectively he may believe himself to be in the service of truth alone), but this result would be attained at the price of calling into question the very 'notion of truth,' and the victory of the sociology of knowledge would appear from then on as a dangerous Pyrrhic victory.

A similar difficulty arises in connection with the ideological nature of economic representations. Like all forms of consciousness, these representations are 'determined by existence.’ The data that they reflect (capital, salaried work, private property, etc…) are no less realities and not simply products of the mind; consciousness of their existence and their role could not therefore — according to G. Salomon — be rightfully described as false consciousness. Thus the unity of the Marxist notion of superstructure tends to disintegrate or threatens to become a mere verbalism. A thinker who was very close to Marxism (F. Tönnies) proposed introducing an intermediary category between infrastructure and superstructure composed of law and politics. The semantic evolution of the term 'ideologie,’ which was always used pejoratively by Marx and Engels, but which tends to have lost this characteristic since Lenin and the dual utilization (philosophical and psychiatric) of the concept of alienation, serves to create an atmosphere in this area which is not always that of clarity.

Now, a coherent concept of alienation underlies [Lukács’s] Histoire et Conscience de Classe; it provides a common denominator for different 'ideologies;’ furthermore, it encompasses a sector of clinical alienation, thus making a coherent interpretation of schizophrenia possible. This will be the main subject of a subsequent chapter. Two facts characterized Lukács's position in 1923 {they are to be found in an esoteric form in his self-criticism): the importance given to reification in the process of alienation and the demonstration of the links which unite this to a personal conception of the dialectic (a conception which owes as much to Hegel and even to Bergson as to Marx) and whose central element is neither the famous transformation of quantity into quality nor even the establishment of the 'moving' character of reality, but the category of the concrete totality on the one hand, and the Subject-Object dialectic and the reificational deterioration of this dialectic on the other. In other words, from this viewpoint one can not separate (except artificially) the question of the dialectical or non-dialectical structure of existerce and thought from the general problem of alienation; one is 'alienated' to the extent that one leaves the field of the dialectic. A descriptive outline of the spatio-temporal structure of reified existence is to be found in Lukács; this description is certainly dependent on the influence of Bergsonism which, at the time of writing of Histoire et Conscience de Classe, played an important and (a significant and relatively unknown fact) progressivist role in Hungary. The world of reification in Lukacs is a spatializing, anaxiological world; its dialectical transcendence ('disalienation') is therefore essentially an act of temporalization and valuation. Lukács's thought thus contains not only (as has rightly been said) 'the elements of a real existential philosophy,’ but also an axiology of the historical action of the working class; alienation is alsoand for Lukacs almost by definitionan axiological crisis.

The question of knowing to what extent such a conception of alienation (the aim of which is to find an anti-dialectical reificational core beneath various manifestations of alienated existence) is consistent with Marx's thought, is marginal to my subject. In short this is the problem of Marxist orthodoxy in Histoire et Conscience de Classe (or, if you like, the problem of the legitimacy of a 'Western Marxism'); this problem has been extensively discussed elsewhere. Lukács's work offers us a coherent conception of alienation, and this coherence is not challenged by psychopathology, which acts rather as its touch-stone; furthermore, the common denominator that it provides for the various aspects of the ideological phenomenon is not only intellectually satisfying, but also conforms to the facts (including, at times, experimental facts). If, despite G. Salomon's objection, the economic representations clearly have an ideological character this is not therefore only because they are explained by the material conditions of existence (Salomon observes, not without reason, that this 'Seinsgebundenheit' does not detract from the objective, practical nature of economic facts), but because from the viewpoint of non-transcended reification, they appear to be extra-temporalized and de-dialecticized. If — to take as an example a quite different superstructure — racist consciousness is a typical form of false consciousness (and consequently racist ideology a true ideology), this is not only because it 'takes as natural' an originally social, therefore, historical and transitory racial condition, but also because it practises a reifying vision (an actual delirious perception) of the racial enemy, as is shown by experimental research. One can demonstrate the reificational structure of religious alienation (if religion is an ideology, it is as reification and not as mystification, as we shall see later on) from morals or the juridical apparatus; the forms of reification (schizophrenization) of political ideologies constitute a special problem. Lukács's theory of alienation entails therefore at least this methodological advantage of safeguarding the uniqueness of the concept of ideology as a geometric locus of the manifestations, no doubt varied in their nature, of the non-dialectical perception of dialectical realities. One important sector of the field of clinical alienation responds to this definition. The integration of the theory of false consciousness into a dialectical context is not therefore, a contingent fact; a consistent theory of false consciousness could only be dialectic (the inconsistencies of Pareto's conception which tried to build a theory of false consciousness on the non-dialectical postulate of the constancy of human nature, are an example of this); on the other hand, a consistent dialectic ('idealist' or 'materialist') ends up by rediscovering, in one way or another, the problem of ideology. The history of ideas offers a few suggestive examples: the 'Ruse de Ia Raison' in the frameworks of Hegel's thought, the ' Universe of Discourse' in L. Brunschwieg's system, the notion of cociocentrism in Piaget. Bergsonism is no exception and the possibility of an ideological critique with Bergsonian foundations is doubtless one dimension of the dialectical value of this doctrine. 'Bergson' — writes V. Jankelevitch — ‘emphasized very carefully the variety of ideological phantoms which perpetually insinuate themselves between thought and facts, and mediate knowledge.’

One point thus appears established: the problem of dialectical thought is inseparable from that of alienation; 'the drama of alienation is dialectical' (Lefebvre). As an expression of a form of nondialectical existence the concept of reification is, for its part, consubstantial with the processes of alienation. Lukács criticized the importance that he had given to this concept in Histoire et Conscience de Classe: we have no reason to do likewise.

I propose — without any concern for orthodoxy — the following definitions for the concepts in question. False consciousness and Ideology are two forms of non-dialectical (reified) perception of dialectical realities, in other words, two aspects (or better: two degrees) of the rejection of the dialectic. Anticipating the subsequent demonstration of the anti-dialectical structure of schizophrenia, I may say that these are two phenomena of a schizophrenic nature.

False consciousness is a diffused state of mind; ideology is a theoretical crystallization. The objective, scientific value of such theoretical crystallizations is naturally subject to caution; it is not ipso facto worthless. In fact, just as in psychopathology, one distinguishes between error and delirium, it is essential to distinguish between false consciousness and scientific error. Having said this, it is plausible to postulate that a consciousness that 'corresponds with what exists' (Seinsadäquat) also possesses a superior 'epistemological fate' in relation to a non-corresponding consciousness, but this postulate has no absolute value.

Let us take an example. The German biologist Ernest Haeckel brought out a book Die Welträtsel in 1899, proposing a 'definitive' solution to the enigmas of the Universe. This state of mind was present in a whole sector of German scientific life at that time. On reading the works of certain biologists (e.g. Wilhelm Bölsche), one gets the impression that for these scientists the Darwinian discovery, along with certain others such as Lyell's geological discoveries, was the last word in science. Such a conception was of social origin ('Seinsgebunden') due to the way German science had developed and especially to the apparently timeless solidity of the German establishment in that period. The consciousness of these scientists was therefore false in two respects: they were for a large part unconscious of the sociological conditioning of their views; they had (like certain thinkers in the age of enlightenment) a reified conception of scientific truth. Haeckel's discoveries are nevertheless of prime importance from the scientific point of view. Similarly, an economist who considered the historically valid laws of the capitalist system to be eternal, would be acting out of false consciousness in that respect. Nevertheless, within the frameworks of this false consciousness, valid discoveries can be made concerning the laws of the crises of capitalism.

Anti-semitic consciousness (and racist consciousness generally) is doubly false. It reifies the image of the racial enemy, and it considers as ahistorical and 'natural' racial peculiarities of historical origin; this is one important aspect of the definition of reification in Lukács. The keenness of Jews for money is indisputably an historical phenomenon; being the result of conditions of life in the ghetto, it disappears in the assimilated intellectual. By considering reificationally these historical products as the expression of a natural law, racist false consciousness denies history: racist ideology tends to build on false consciousness a pseudo-history which, instead of explaining the Jew through history, claims to explain History through the Jew.

Another idea occurs at this point, attributable to J. Paulhan: the illusion of totality. One can enlarge it and speak of the illusion of encounter, illusion of dereification, illusion of temporalization (illusion of History) and generally the illusion of the dialectic. The usefulness of this notion — notably in the psychopathology of deranged experience and sexual perversions — will become apparent later. For the moment I will suggest a new point of reference for defining the relationships between false consciousness and ideology: if the first is always a dialectical deterioration, the second often crystallizes an illusion of the dialectic (illusion of totality) which sometimes appears — especially in psychopathology — as an illusion of value. By definition there can be no ideology without a foundation of false consciousness, but there can be bouts of false consciousness without a true ideological development; the most typical example in recent history is certainly American McCarthyism that can rightfully be described as a growth of false consciousness practically bereft of ideology, even in the pejorative sense of this latter term. Other movements distinguish themselves on the other hand, by extraordinary ideological developments. The merit of experimental research such as Adorno's is precisely to have succeeded in perceiving the reificational structure of false consciousness at the pre-ideological level. To talk of false consciousness without ideology is certainly a useful abstraction, but all the same it is an abstraction. In fact — as Pareto said — ‘… men want to reason; it is unimportant whether it is good or bad.’ It is rare that a group can express its false consciousness without some kind of a justificatory rationalization (often of a moral nature) and this often fulfils the functions of a real ideology in miniature. In relation to false consciousness ideologies often play the same role as derivations in relation to residues in Pareto's system. Finally, one can usefully compare false consciousness to the diffused delirious state of mind, and ideology to the delirious system, this latter often being an illusory neostructuration (Hesnard), therefore an illusion of totality.

The expression 'bout of false consciousness' was used earlier; this medical analogy corresponds in the circumstances to a sociological reality, whatever may be the justified reservations that the use of such parallels may deserve elsewhere. A permanent fund of false consciousness exists in collective psychology: every collectivity is egocentric, though to various degrees; furthermore, every collectivity through the single fact that it transcends its members, tends to spatialize duration. But this permanent fund from time to time experiences exacerbations which demonstrate — though without creating — its illusory structure. Certain theories about great historical oscillations can thus be interpreted as oscillations in false consciousness. Szende (whose book Verhüllung und Enthüllung was one of the first studies of political alienation seen in the light of the general character of false consciousness) distinguishes between 'historical periods of alienation' and 'periods of disalienation;’ certainly the idea is right, though one might dispute the details. V. Zoltowski refers to an empirical basis to distinguish between spatializing periods in which analytical functions are prevalent and temporalizing periods which are mainly synthetic. The results of a non-Marxist research inquiry thus reveal certain themes of overt Marxism for — precisely because of the theory of the schizophrenic nature of false consciousness — spatializing periods can be likened to the Verhüllungsperioden (periods of alienation) of Szende. Wars (hot and cold) exacerbate false consciousness by means of a dual mechanism: accentuation of sociocentrism and the increasing role of the convenient political lie, both being factors of de-dialectization of consciousness. Doubtless it is due to reaction to this that periods immediately after wars are sometimes marked by the appearance, or blossoming, of intellectual movements of dereification such as surrealism after the First World War and existentialism after the Second. Small countries, situated from an intellectual point of view, at the crossroads of the great international intellectual movements — in a place therefore, where the powerful influences of sociocentrism are neutralized — constitute (aided also by the decentralizing effect of the intellectuals' polyglottism) a favourable ground for dialectical thought and, consequently, dereification; on the other hand, ethnic groups appear to encourage to a certain extent anti-dialectical, defocalized thought. But the most favoured ground for non-dialectical thought is the totalitarian state: false consciousness is the normal atmosphere of totalitarian states and parties. Conversely, in the field of facts, not ideas, parliamentary democracy appears, for want of better, to be the regime allowing the maximum of disalienation (or if you like, the minimum of alienation) compatible with collective existence: decentration of opinion due to the play of the plurality of parties; attenuation of judicial reification through the institution of the courts and through respect for the rights of defence. This is not the place to go further into this subject. The theory of alienation, inseparable from dialectical philosophy, seems also to constitute a chapter in the general doctrine of democracy when seen from this viewpoint.

Utopian thought is one of the forms of crystallization of the false consciousness of social classes interested in change; it is a reification of the future ('future-thing' according to S. de Beauvoir). The existence of utopian consciousness teaches us an important lesson. Marx could never completely free himself from a psychology of interests, inherited from the philosophy of the enlightenment: the possessing classes would obscure the dialectical aspect of things, for the dialectic is incompatible with their interest in self-preservation. Reification of the future in utopian consciousness shows that social strata wholly 'interested in change' can, however, undergo the de-dialecticization of historical temporality: the roots of the phenomenon are therefore deeper than the Marxist conception implicitly supposes. (Marx also overestimated the importance of mystification in religious alienation.) Despite the traditional terminology, it is above all a crisis in temporalization which makes utopian thought illusory: utopia is above all a uchrony. In fact the temporality of utopian consciousness involves three elements incompatible with a real temporalization: a bifurcation of historical time which follows on the one hand a causal sequence and on the other affective dynamics; a hiatus between present and future; and, thirdly an end to historical time once the utopian moment is achieved. Despite the psychology of interests factor pointed out by Marx, a social stratum interested in change can undergo the de-dialecticization of its perception of reality in at least two ways: the irrational involvement in a world of utopian structure, and a reification of its instruments of combat which create state reasons for their advantage’ (R. Aron), or, in other words, cause it to be surrounded with an atmosphere of anti-dialectical false consciousness.

Reified Consciousness
Part II: Outline of a General Psychopathology Based on the Concept of Reification

‘The social world seems to me as natural as nature, which endures as if by magic. It is in reality a magical structure, a system which is based on writings, promises that are fulfilled, ideas that are effective, habits and conventions that are observed — all pure fictions.' P. Valery

Reification in Histoire et Conscience de Classe

The starting point for the theory of reification is now a classic Marxian observation; capital is both a material object (commodity, a machine) and at the same time the centre for the crystallization of human relationships. A given instrument can remain materially the same in two different historical contexts; it will be capital only in a capitalist context, i.e. when human relationships characteristic of the capitalist form of society are established through it. Commodity as an object corresponds to a human need that is likely to remain the same through the ages. It is at the same time dependent on a certain form of social production; as a social fact, wine produced by a slave in the Ancient world is not the same as that produced by the effort of the modern agricultural worker. Because of its dual aspect — material and social, substantial and relational — commodity assumes a mysterious character in Classical economy, which is well explained by Marxian terminology. N. Berdiaeff, a thinker alien to Marxism if ever there was one, described the theory of the fetishist nature of commodity as brilliant. Lukács, in 1928, saw it as the most essential element of the theoretical structure of Marxism, 'the chapter on the fetishist character of commodity contains all of historical materialism, all the self-knowledge of the proletariat as knowledge of capitalist society’ (identity of the historical subject and object).

The theory of reification in Lukács is closely linked to these considerations. Lukács shows that the interhuman, relational character and therefore the historically transitory, and relative (dialectical) nature of capitalist categories, is hidden by the materiality of capital, which gives them the mistaken appearance of a natural phenomenon. The result is that the man in the reified world lives in an inhuman world. Kafka's work is the most striking illustration of this inhuman world of reification. This emerges both in the analysis of the Trial (the man crushed by the impersonal power of the judicial apparatus) and the Castle. Similarly, the worker in the capitalist system is faced with the products of his own activity which, having acquired a 'phantom substantiality' (gespenstige Gegenständlichkeit), crush him just as a natural power would do. It is therefore a sociological phenomenon completely analogous to what Wyrsch and Binswanger find in the world of schizophrenics. I shall return to this point in more detail.

There are several important consequences.

Phenomena of Dissociation and Depersonalization

An important passage from Histoire et Conscience de Classe is devoted to the rationalization of work, a reificational phenomenon. 'Rationalisation, in the sense of being able to predict with even greater precision all the results to be achieved, postulates a precise dissociation of every complex into its elements with evidence of the special laws governing their production. … It is thus, on the one hand, forced to declare war on the organic production of whole products based on the traditional empirical experience of the worker: rationalization is unthinkable without specialization. On the other hand, this dissociation necessarily involves a dissociation from the person of the producer. Because of the existence of rationalization, the human qualities and idiosyncrasies of the worker appear — when contrasted with these special laws functioning according to rational predictions — increasingly as mere sources of error (blosse Fehlerquellen). The human being ... thus ceases to be the master of the economic process: he is henceforth merely the cog in a mechanical system whose laws he must subject himself to, whether he likes it or not.’

This dissociation from concrete totalities is not only evident in the economic area; it naturally possesses an epistemological extension. Lukács quotes, from amongst thousands of possible examples, Sismondi's theory of crises to demonstrate to what point a theory that is based on accurate observations, but which is imperfectly integrated into the concrete historical totality, can lead to erroneous conclusions. There exists, therefore, and this is certainly one of the essential meanings of reification — a pseudoepistemology of reified consciousness, based on the dissociation of totalities and atomism: that is to say, the preponderance of analytical functions over synthetic functions.

Quantification and Spatialization

The 'inhuman condition' that reification creates is manifested in a certain preponderance of the quantitative aspect of existence; this eminently anti-dialectical world fatally ignores the dialectic of the transformation of quantity into quality, the dialectic in which the category of totality is mediatory. The reified world is, above all, a world of quantity. Customary values, and people's labours are qualitative, heterogeneous. The values of exchange and socialized work are quantitative. ... The exchange value is measured quantitatively; its specific measure is money. Quantitative work corresponds to a social average in which all the qualitative characteristics of individual work disappear, except one, which is common to all forms of work and which makes them commensurable: that is every act of production requires a certain time. Man therefore becomes the slave of time. 'Time is everything, man is nothing, at the very most the incarnation (Verkörperung) of time’ This time is no longer the concrete duration of creative activity, but a spatialized time. 'The contemplative attitude adopted towards a process that is subject to mechanical laws (einem mechanisch gesetzmässigen Prozess gegenüber) and is developed independently from consciousness and outside the sphere of influence of human activity (that is, a closed, definitive system) also transforms the main categories of man's immediate attitude towards the world: it reduces space and time to a common denominator and degrades time to the level of space,’ 'Consequendy temporality loses its qualitative, changing, fluid character; it is transformed into a rigid, exactly delimited continuum, filled with quantitatively measurable "things" (which are the reified, mechanically objectified "productions" of the worker, wholly detached from his total personality); it is transformed into space.’ Elsewhere Lukacs talks about maleficent space (Schädlicher Raum). The need for the 'abstract calculability' of human activities which keeps reappearing in this chapter anticipates, from 1923 onwards, contemporary econontic planning. This is certainly another reason why this book fell into disfavour.

Prevalence of Identificatory Functions

The experience of reified reality is translated into a particular logic which is naturally situated at the opposite extreme to a dialectical logic. Let me emphasize once more that there is a risk of being completely misunderstood on the significance of this important aspect of dialectical philosophy if one loses sight of the close correlativity between terms such as 'non-dialectical thought,’ 'false consciousness,’ 'reification,’ and ' alienation;’ in fact, they concern the same fundamental phenomenon seen from different angles at least in the Lukácsian thought of this period. As a collective lived experience of reification, false consciousness is — as we have seen — essentially non-dialectical thought on the level of social groups. The reified world sees the triumph of the logic of solid bodies: identity overflows into reality, to paraphrase the title of a famous work. The reified world 'meyersonizes' to excess; it is obsessed with the identical. ‘The formal act of exchange (which for the Grenznutztheorie (theory of marginal utility) remains the fundamental economic fact) likewise suppresses use-value as use-value and creates this relationship of abstract equality (my italics) between concretely unequal, and indeed non-comparable data’ (Lukács). Lukacs confines himself to denouncing abstract identification in the reified economic superstructure. The criticism of ideological thought goes further in this direction as we have seen elsewhere. Once more, identification appears as a devaluing depersonalizing process; the concept of alienating identification is well known in psychopathology.

Axiology of the Reified World

The reified universe of dissociation of totalities, of spatialization and quantification is necessarily the locus for the deterioration of the axiological contents of existence. Elsewhere we have seen the relationships between totality and axiology; the concept of totality, a dialectical category (a revolutionary principle of science according to Lukács) is as central in axiology as in dialectics. In fact, the world of reification has a spatial structure; now, space is a milieu that allows for a complete return whilst axiology postulates the principle of the impossibility of such a return­ — ('consistency of values,’ according to Dupréel). On the other hand — and this is nothing more than my earlier observation seen from a different angle — the world of reification is dominated by the principle of identity; now, value [Gabel means ‘value’ in a personal, psychological sense here, i.e. ‘I value our friendship,’ not the value of a commodity in the objective Marxian sense] is what, by definition, is not identifiable. The result is a deterioration of the axiological contents of existence and a promotion of immediate, utilitarian ('identifiable') values. Reified morality is typically what I shall call later 'objective morality;’ the category of efficiency is a substitute for that of moral intention. 'In the world of extreme rationalisation, the worker's intention, his moral life as a person matters little; for society, he counts only as a cog destined to carry out a particular motion. In a reified world, he himself becomes a thing.

Ahistoricity of Reified Thought

As a prisoner of a universe where space takes the place of duration, man in the reified world cannot understand history as the expression of creativity and spontaneity. Consequently the undeniable fact of change forces itself on this 'consciousness of immediacy' as a catastrophe, as a sudden change coming from outside that excludes mediation. In fact, the notion of ' event' implies a dialectical transformation of quality into quantity; it is both a continuation of the past and a break with the past. Reified existence, where everything is measured in quantity, does not understand the event and substitutes the notion of catastrophe, which is the result of heteronomic action (external action). Seen in this perspective, history appears as a function of a demiurgic action. An external force (God, the hero, a party) transcends the efficiency of its autonomous dialectic. Reified consciousness is essentially ahistorical: 'mens momentanea seu carens recordatione', said Leibnitz on this subject.

This rather long summary of Lukácsian theses was necessary since I wish to carry out a psychopathological application of his ideas that are rather inaccessible. It would be bold to summarize philosophical thought of this importance in a few points. However, one might say that the most essential elements of this theory are the following:

(a) The relationships between the concepts of alienation, reification, false consciousness and non-dialectical thought.

For Lukács — at least in Histoire et Conscience de Classe — alienation is a corollary of reification. On the other hand, the logical expression of reified consciousness is always a non-dialectical logic.

There is too much to choose from if one wants to quote passages from Histoire et Conscience de Classe where Lukács does not make a distinction between reification as a way of being-in-the-world and the notion of non-dialectical logic as a form of thought. It is therefore a theory of alienation, and should be judged as such, but it has the advantage of a clarity and an undeniable coherence which makes psychopathological applications possible. One works with delimited concepts and if we are able to show that these concepts correspond to something precise in psychopathology (which is what I shall try to do later), this will be both the indirect proof of the value of Histoire et Conscience de Classe and a specific scientific contribution. Marxian orthodoxy has, by contrast, challenged Histoire et Conscience de Classe without ever responding with a coherent theory of alienation. The constant use of a concept not having any concrete content has produced — specifically in psychopathology — paradoxical results. In fact, the concept of alienation in psychiatry simply denotes a man estranged from the milieu of his fellow men. In this sense, it is perfectly logical to say that all mental illnesses —even criminals and asocial forms — are aliens, but alienation thus understood has nothing in common with the Marxist concept. For Lukács, alienation means an anti-dialectical view of the world, which isolates the individual from a dialectical social reality. An analogy might be found in the Bergsonian theory of the comic. In psychopathology, alienation is not therefore mental illness in general, but morbid rationalism in particular.

(b) The role of the category of totality.

If the concept of alienation is a corollary of reification (and through the intermediary of reification, of dissociation and depersonalization of the producer in the reified economic process), then the dialectical category of the totality appears, on the contrary, as the essential instrument for all dialectical consciousness and also as the central category for all dialectical epistemology. Now, this raises an important problem for this subject: that of the dialectical value of psychological doctrines of totality, of which Gestaltism is the best known. These doctrines have been accused of idealism, and their dialectical nature has been minimized. in fact, once again the sociocentric criterion has come into play: these theories have been judged in relation to Pavlovism, which has always had its dialectical quality taken as axiomatic.

(c) The role of the historical subject and object.

In the reified world, the individual is crushed by the economic universe, the result of his own activity. This is, mutatis mutandis, as true for the capitalist as it is for the worker. This state of man being crushed by an almost hallucinatory pseudo-reality is reflected in Kafka's work. The historical consciousness of the working class (the formation of class consciousness) is essentially a de-reification analogous to the de-objectivation which characterizes the consciousness of the sick person undergoing psychoanalysis. The working class, having rediscovered, beyond reificational atomism, its own totality as the acting subject of history, discovers at the same time the subject-object identity (revolutionary class - society). Conscious and free historical action follows the state of being crushed by obscure forces.

These are the outlines of Lukács's thought. One can see how simplistic it would be to see it only as the expression of a 'thinglike' experience of the human world. In fact, it is a whole 'way of Being-in-the-world' involving two schizophrenic elements: the state of being crushed by the 'World' and spatialization of duration.

The examination of different theories of schizophrenia seen in the light of this hypothesis will be the subject of a later chapter. From now on it is possible to emphasize certain analogies between the world of reification and the world of schizophrenia and related nosological entities, with the exception, however, of certain categories of mental illness. Thus, the spatialization of duration is — as we know — central in Minkowski's doctrine. The state of being crushed by the world is dominant in the analyses of Binswanger and his disciples. We find again two essential elements of the Lukácsian description of the reified world. Now, in Lukács's work, the coexistence of these elements is not at all fortuitous. The link which unites them leads us to see reification as the common denominator in the works of Minkowski and Binswanger, because of the methodological principle defined earlier, the social dimension clarifying the individual dimension ('the anatomy of man is the key to the anatomy of the ape,’ said Marx). The outline of a 'logic of pure identity' appears in the description of the reified universe. It is dominant in false political consciousness; we saw earlier, in fact, that sociocentric logic was essentially an identificatory logic. The same obsession for identity is found in schizophrenics. The notions of formal destructuration and devaluation, central notions in A. Hesnard's work, are thus also of a reificational nature. The ahistoricity of reified consciousness and the emergence of the historical nature of reality in the form of a catastrophe exist in the clinical annals of schizophrenia: a dialectical interpretation of the 'deranged experience of the end of the world' will be outlined later.

A New Institute for Social Research