Michael Heinrich, Patrick Eiden-Offe: On the Production of Biography: Karl Marx & György Lukács
Four-hour workshop in the Spring program series Philosophy, Formalization & Truth as Creative Process at the Parrhesia: School of Philosophy, Berlin e.V.
Biography is a very old and still immensely popular genre. We find biographies of politicians, artists, revolutionaries, entrepreneurs and poets, and even of things, rivers and cities on the market today. For a long time, biographies were held to have a rather conservative reputation: they seemed to reproduce the ideological outlook according to which history is made by great men, thus enabling history to be written as the history of these great men. But this reputation got turned around for emancipatory purposes a good while ago: in the abolitionist, workers’ and women’s movements, biographies were written of people who were said to have no real history of their own. And, of course, the lives and histories of the leaders of these movements also became subjects of biographical encounters. This turning around raises difficult questions: for example, is it possible to write the biography of Karl Marx without reproducing the stereotype of the great man, and if so, how? Here, the political question becomes a poetic one, in the literal sense: it is a question of how to do it, of how to write a biography that, at a certain point, has to turn against conventions of its own genre.