the hungarian way


According to Demeter, the key aspect of twentieth-century philosophical thought in Hungary is its connection to the social: questions that the most prominent figures of the century addressed are deeply rooted in the problems of society and sociality, and it is against such a characteristically Central-European socio-historical background that their works can be fruitfully interpreted as parts of a tradition. The main question therefore is the following: in the vein of German idealism and British empiricism, is it plausible to speak of something like “Hungarian sociologism” in the twentieth century? Demeter’s answer is an unequivocal “yes”, and the perspective he offers his readers gives him firm grounds to rebut the claim that Hungarian philosophy is “much less creative than it is receptive” His book attempts to paint the picture of a century’s worth of Hungarian thought from Menyhért Palágyi’s critique of psychologism at the turn of the century to Kristóf Nyíri’s contributions to communication theory in the 1990s. Demeter’s investigations are quite wide in scope, addressing not only the work of prominent Hungarian philosophers (like Menyhért Palágyi, György Lukács, Imre Lakatos, György Márkus, Ágnes Heller) but of social historians (István Hajnal), classical scholars (József Balogh), and philosophically inclined sociologists of knowledge and art (Karl Mannheim and Arnold Hauser, respectively), too.

more from Ákos Sivadó at Berlin Review of Books here.