Budapest School (Lukács)

The Budapest School (Hungarian: Budapesti iskola, German: Budapester Schule) was a school of thought, originally of Marxist humanism, but later of Post-Marxism and dissident Liberalism that emerged in Hungary in the early 1960s, belonging to so called Hungarian New Left. Its members were students or colleagues of Georg Lukács. The school was originally oriented towards developing Lukacs' later works on social ontology and aesthetics, but quickly began to challenge the paradigm of Lukacsian-Marxism, thus reconstructing contemporary critical theory. Most of the members later came to abandon Marxism. The School also critiqued the "dictatorship over needs" of the Soviet states. Most of the members were forced into exile by the pro-Soviet Hungarian government.

In a letter to the Times Literary Supplement of February 15, 1971, Georg Lukács drew attention to “The Budapest School of Marxism,” and helped attract attention to the school from Western Marxism.

Members of the school include Ágnes Heller, Ferenc Fehér (hu), György Márkus, István Mészáros, Mihály Vajda and Maria Márkus, among others. The Budapest School's writings have been read and researched widely since the 1960s.


The 1956 Hungarian Revolution was one of the most important political event of Agnes Heller's life, for at this time she saw the effect of the academic freedoms of Marxist critical theory as dangerous to the entire political and social structure of Hungary. The uprising confirmed Heller’s ideas that what Marx really intended is for the people to have political autonomy and collective determination of social life.

Lukács, Heller and other Marxist critical theorists emerged from the Revolution with the belief that Marxism and socialism needed to be applied to different nations in individual ways, effectively questioning the role of the Soviet Union in Hungary’s future. These ideas set Heller on an ideological collision course with the new Moscow-supported government of János Kádár: Heller was again expelled from the Communist Party and she was dismissed from the University in 1958 for refusing to indict Lukács as a collaborator in the Revolution. She was not able to resume her research until 1963, when she was invited to join the Sociological Institute at the Hungarian Academy as a researcher (Tormey 4–18) (Grumley 5–15).

From 1963 can be seen the emergence of what would later be called the “Budapest School”, a philosophical forum that was formed by Lukács to promote the renewal of Marxist criticism in the face of actually existing socialism and its theories. Other participants in the Budapest School included together with Heller her second husband Ferenc Fehér, György Márkus, Mihály Vajda and some other scholars with looser connections to the school (such as András Hegedüs, István Eörsi, János Kis and György Bence). The School emphasized the idea of the renaissance of Marxism, described by radical philosophy scholar Simon Tormey as "a flowering of the critical, oppositional potential they believed lay within Marxism and in particular within the ‘early Marx’ ... the Marxism of the individual ‘rich in needs,' of solidarity and self-governance ... they hoped to precipitate a crisis in those systems that had the temerity to call themselves 'socialist'."

Heller’s work from this period, concentrates on themes such as what Marx means to the character of modern societies; liberation theory as applied to the individual; the work of changing society and government from “the bottom up,” and affecting change through the level of the values, beliefs and customs of "everyday life". Since 1990, Heller has been more interested in the issues of aesthetics in The Concept of The Beautiful (1998), Time Is Out of Joint (2002), and Immortal Comedy (2005).

The Budapest School carried out research on the Political Economy of both the Soviet Union and Western Capitalism. The School accepted many of the critiques of Soviet planning and inefficiency from Neoclassical Economics, as well as the connection between markets and freedom. The Soviet system was condemned as a dictatorship over needs. The school also analyzed the mixed economies of modern capitalism. Most traditional Marxist economics was jettisoned. Sweden and the Nordic Model was held as a model of the mixed economy and managed capitalism. The School advocated Radical Democracy as a solution to the authoritarian and undemocratic features of the mixed economy.

Ágnes Heller

Heller was born in 1929. It is well known that she is the most prominent philosopher and aesthetician from Budapest School, and one of the most representative critical theorists from Eastern European Neo-Marxists. She has published more than forty books on social theory, the theory of history, the philosophy of ethics and moral and political philosophy. Since 1990s, she has been paying more attention to issues of aesthetics.

  1. The Concept of the Beautiful. Ed.Marcia Morgan . Lexington Books, 2012.
  2. A Short History of My Philosophy. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2011.
  3. John Rundell ed.,Aesthetics and Modernity: essays by Agnes Heller. New York,: Lexington Books, 2010.
  4. Immortal Comedy.Lanham:Rowman& Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005.
  5. The Time is Out of Joint: Shakespeare as Philosopher of History. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2002.
  6. A Theory of Modernity. London: Blackwell Publishers, 1999.
  7. An Ethics of Personality. Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1996.
  8. The Challenge of Diversity. Eds.Rainer Baubock and Agnes Heller. Aldershot: Ashgate,1996.
  9. Biopolitics. The Politics of the Body, Race and Nature. Eds. Agnes Heller and Sonja Puntscher Riekmann. Aldershot, Brookfield USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Syndey: Avebury, 1996.
  10. A Philosophy of History in Fragments. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1993.
  11. The Grandeur and Twilight of Radical Universalism (with Ferenc Feher). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1990.
  12. Can Modernity Survive? Cambridge, Berkeley, Los Angeles: Polity Press and University of California Press, 1990.
  13. From Yalta to Glasnost (with Ferenc Feher). Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1990.
  14. A Philosophy of Morals. Oxford, Boston: Basil Blackwell, 1990.
  15. General Ethics. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989.
  16. The Postmodern Political Condition (with Ferenc Feher). Cambridge, New York: Polity Press, 1989.
  17. Beyond Justice. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988.
  18. Eastern Left - Western Left (with Ferenc Feher). Cambridge, New York: Polity Press,1987.
  19. Doomsday or Deterrence (with Ferenc Feher).Armonk,New York,London, Englang: M.E. Sharpe Inc., 1986.
  20. Reconstructing Aesthetics. Eds. Agnes Heller and F. Feher. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986.
  21. The Power of Shame:A Rationalist Perspective. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985.
  22. Radical philosophy. Trans.James Wickham. England: Basil Blackwell, 1984.
  23. Everyday Life. trans.G.L.Campbell. London, Boston, Melbourne and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984.
  24. Lukacs Revalued. Ed. Agnes Heller. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983.
  25. Dictatorship Over Needs (with Ferenc Feher and György Markus). Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983.
  26. Hungary, 1956 Revisited: The Message of a Revolution A Quarter of a Century After (with Ferenc Feher). London, Boston, Sydney: George Allen and Unwin, 1983.
  27. A Theory of History. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982.
  28. Marxisme et Democratie (with Ferenc. Feher). Paris: Maspero, 1981.
  29. Theory of Feelings. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1979.
  30. Renaissance Man. Trans. Richard E. Allen. London, Boston, Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978.
  31. On Instincts. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1979.
  32. The Humanisation of Socialism (with Andras Hegedus and others). London: Allison and Busby, 1976.
  33. The Theory of Need in Marx. New York: ST.Martin’s Press, 1976.
  34. Cserniservszkij Etikai Nézetei. Budapest : Szikra Kiadó, 1956.

Ferenc Fehér

Fehér wrote an important book called Paradoxical poet in the early 1970s under the influnece of Georg Lukács's The Theory of the Novel, and later published some writings about aesthetics and political philosophy with Agnes Heller in Australia and the U.S. He died in 1994.

  1. “The Transformation of the Kantian Question in Lukács' Heidelberg Philosophy of Art” ,Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, VOLUME 16, NUMBER 2.
  2. “Lukács, Benjamin, Theatre”,Theatre Journal , Vol. 37, No. 4. (Dec., 1985), 415-425.
  3. “The Pan-Tragic Vision: The Metaphysics of Tragedy”,New Literary History ,(Winter, 1980), 245-254.
  4. “István Bibó and the Jewish Question in Hungary: Notes on the Margin of a Classical Essay ”,New German Critique, No. 21, Issue 3 (Autumn, 1980), 3-46.
  5. “The Swan Song of German Khrushchevism, with a Historic Lag: Peter Weiss' Die Ästhetik des Widerstands ”,New German Critique, No. 30, (Autumn, 1983), 157-169.
  6. “Lukács and Benjamin: Parallels and Contrasts”,New German Critique, No. 34 (Winter, 1985), 125-138.
  7. “Negative Philosophy of Music:Positive Results ”,(with Zoltan Feher), New German Critique, No. 4 (Winter, 1975),99-111.
  8. “The Last Phase of Romantic Anti-Capitalism: Lukács' Response to the War ”,(with Jerold Wikoff), New German Critique, No. 10 (Winter, 1977), 139-154.
  9. “Review: Grandeur and Decline of a Holistic Philosophy ”, Theory and Society, Vol. 14, No. 6 (Nov., 1985), 863-876.
  10. “Review: Wolin on Benjamin”, New German Critique, No. 28 (Winter, 1983), 170-180.
  11. “Review: Arato-Breines and Löwy on Lukács ”, New German Critique, No. 23 (Spring, 1981), 131-139.

György Márkus

Márkus left Hungary for Australia in the late 1970s, just like Agnes Heller and Ferenc Fehér. His books include:

  1. Marxism and Anthropology, Trans. Laczay and G. Márkus.Van GORCUM ASSEN, The Netherlands, 1978.
  2. Language and Production: A Critique of the Paradigms. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1986.
  3. “Walter Benjamin or The Commodity as Phantasmagoria”.New German Critique, Spring/Summer2001 Issue 83, pp. 3–42.
  4. “ The paradigm of language: Wittgenstein, Lévi-Strauss, Gadamer”.in John Fekete,ed. The Structural allegory. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press,1984.
  5. “The Paradoxical Unity of Culture:The Arts and the Sciences ”,Thesis Eleven, Vol. 75, No. 1, 7-24 (2003).
  6. “Adorno's Wagner”. Thesis Eleven, Vol. 56, No. 1, 25-55 (1999).
  7. “On ideology-critique—critically”. Thesis Eleven. Issue 43. 66-99(1995).
  8. “The Hegelian concept of culture”, praxis international, vol.6, no.2, 1986. pp. 113–123.
  9. “Adorno and Mass Culture: Autonomous Art against Culture Industry”, Thesis Eleven,no.86, August,2006, pp. 67–89.

Mihály Vajda

Mihály András Vajda is a Széchenyi Prize-winning Hungarian philosopher, professor, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, full member. His work is primarily in the phenomenology of the 20th-century German philosophy and theory in totalitarian societies. Between 1996 and 2000 the Kossuth Lajos University Institute of Philosophy, 2005 to 2009, the Institute for Philosophical Research Director.

He graduated from high school in 1953, and began his tertiary studies at the Lenin Institute. He studied there until 1956, then from 1957 to 1960 he attended and graduated from the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, Faculty of Philosophy, German Philosophy faculty. György Lukács accepted among students, the School of Budapest belonged.

Upon completion of undergraduate studies he worked as a primary school teacher, and in 1961, became a scientific assistant at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Institute of Philosophy. In 1967 he defended his candidate's dissertation in the philosophy of science. Gradually departed from the Marxist eszmétől, and in 1973 the Budapest school's role in respect of political incompetence and szabadúszóvá dismissed from the institute became a translator and worked as a language teacher. In 1977, Bremen has been a visiting professor, he lectured until 1980. In the 1980s, more than once was in New York visiting professor. 1991-1992 in Siegen, Kassel in 1994 as a teacher.

In 1989, rehabilitated, and in 1990 the Kossuth Lajos University (now University of Debrecen), senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy University professor was appointed. In 1992 he defended his doctoral thesis. In 1994, the MTA Representative Assembly, and in 2000 became chairman of the Committee of the Institute of Philosophy, and in 2001 he was elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, e-mail, and in 2007 a full member. Between 1999 and 2002 Széchenyi fellowship researched. 2005 emeritálták . Also in 2005, the Institute for Philosophical Research was appointed. The institute is headed by 2009.

Research areas at the beginning of his career, the 20th-century phenomenology, Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler's work, he later turned to social theory. In this period of fascism until 1995, his book is not jelentethette Hungarian. In the 1970s, towards a critical Marxist written works, most of which are also not jelentethetett it. The regime, the possibility of post-modern philosophy, and the impossibility of questions employed. Furthermore, dealt with philosophy, history and political philosophy. He published a work in which he compared Husserl's theory of the sedimentation of the European sciences with Lukacs' concept of reification.

More than eighty publications, they are mainly in Hungarian, English and German disclose to the public.

He is married with a son and a daughter.

István Mészáros

István Mészáros is a Hungarian Marxist philosopher, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Sussex. He held the Chair of Philosophy at Sussex for fifteen years and was earlier Professor of Philosophy and Social Science for four years at York University.

He can be linked to the so-called "Budapest school", a group of Hungarian philosophers who were taught or influenced by Georg Lukács, including Ágnes Heller and György Márkus.

He left his native Hungary in 1956 after the Soviet invasion and worked for a time in Turin, Italy before settling in the UK.

Some writings about Budapest School

  1. A. Hegedus, M. Vajda, and others,“Die neue Linke in Ungarn”, Vol. 2., Internationale Marxistische Diskussion No.53, Merve Verlag, [West] Berlin, 1976.
  2. A.Hegedus, M. Markus, and others, “Die neue Linke in Ungarn”,Internationale Marxistische Diskussion No.45, Merve Verlag,[West] Berlin, 1974.
  3. Agnes Heller, “Preface to A Study of Agnes Heller’s Thoughts on Aesthetic Modernity by Fu Qilin” ,Comparative literature: east & west,2007, num.8
  4. Arato, Andrew. “The Budapest School and actually existing socialism”, Theory and Society, no.16, 1987.593-619.
  5. Blechman, Max. “Revolutionary Romanticism: A Reply to Agnes Heller”, in Radical Philosophy, no. 99(2000), 40-43.
  6. Brown, Doug. “Karl Polanyi’s Influence on the Budapest School”, Journal of Economic Issues, Mar 1987,vol.21, no. 1.339-347.
  7. Burnheim, John, ed. The Social Philosophy of Agnes Heller. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994.
  8. Charles Andras,“New Left in Hungary Attracts Attention of Western Marxists”,RAD Background Report/91,(East-West),23 April 1976.)
  9. Coop, Barry. “A Philosophy of History in Fragments, Agnes Heller”, in
  10. Despoix, Phillippe.“On the Possibility of a Philosophy of Values: A Dialogue Within the Budapest School”,in John Burnheim,ed. The Social Philosophy of Agnes Heller. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994.
  11. Falk, Barbara J. The Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe:Citizen Intellectuals and Philosopher Kings. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003.
  12. Frankel, Serge and Daniel Martin. “The Budapest School,” Telos 17 (Fall, 1973).
  13. Fu Qilin, “ Agnes Heller’s thoughts on aesthetic moderntiy”, Review of China Books, 2007,num.3.
  14. Fu Qilin ed, Agnes Heller, “Reflection on the postmodern art”, Journal of Sichuan University, 2007,num.5
  15. Fu Qilin, “A Study of Agnes Heller’s Thoughts on Aesthetic Modernity :Abstract”, Comparative literature: east & west,2007, num.8
  16. Fu Qilin, “Agnes Heller’s analysis of aesthetic modernity in Renaissance”, Journal of Langfang teachers’ college, 2010.num.2
  17. Fu Qilin, “Budapest School’s way to post-Marxist”, Cultural Studies and Literary Theory, 2008.num.18
  18. Fu Qilin, “on Budapest School’s critique of Frankfurt School’s aesthetics”, Literary Theory and Studies, 2009.num.2
  19. Fu Qilin, “On Budapest School’s critique of György Lukács ’ totality aesthetics”, Research on Marxist aesthetics, 2008, num.11.
  20. Fu Qilin, “On Budapest School’s Critique of Institution Theory of Art”, Journal of Center South University, 2005.num.3
  21. Fu Qilin, “On Budapest School’s Reconstructing Aesthetics”, Studies of Foreign Literature, 2004, num.2.
  22. Fu Qilin, “on Budapest School’s study of influence of market on cultural distribution”, Journal of Langfang teachers’ college, 2007.num.4
  23. Fu Qilin, “Reconstructing the concept of art and interpreting the postmodern arts: A summary of Agnes Heller’s lectures on the academic journey to China”, Modern Philosophy, 2008.num.4
  24. Fu Qilin, A Study of Agnes Heller's Thoughts about Aesthetic Modernity. Chengdu, China: Bashu Publishing House, 2006.
  25. Fu Qilin, Critique of Grand Narrative and the Construction of Pluralist Aesthetics: A Study of Reconstructing Aesthetics of Budapest School. Harbin, China: Heilongjiang University Press,2011.
  26. Fu Qilin, “On Budapest School Aesthetics: An Interview with Agnes Heller”, Thesis Eleven,2008(Aug.),Num. 94 Vol.1
  27. Fu Qilin,“On Agnes Heller’s Theory of Imaginary Institution in Modernity”,Journal of Huaiyin teachers’ college, 2008.num.4.
  28. Gaiger, Jason.“The Fake: Forgery and its Place in Art by Sándor Radnóti”. British Journal of Aesthetics, Jul(2001), Vol. 41 Issue 3.
  29. Gardiner, Michael. “ A postmodern utopia? Heller and Ferenc’s critiqueof Messianic Marxism”, in Utopian Studies, vol. 8 no.1(1997), 89-122.
  30. Gardiner,Michael. Critique of Everyday Life. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.
  31. Gransow, Volker. “Heller, Agnes”, in Robert A. Gorman, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Neo-Marxism. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1985.
  32. Grumley, John,Paul Crittenden and Pauline Johnson,ed. Culture and Enlightenment : Essays for Gyorgy Markus. Ashgate, Aldershot, 2002.
  33. Grumley,John. “ Negotiating the ‘double bind’: Heller’s theory of modernity”, in European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 3, no. 4(2000),429-447.
  34. Grumley,John. Agnes Heller: A Moralist in the Vortex of History. London: Pluto Press, 2005.
  35. Hall, John A. “Beyond Justice by Agnes Heller ”, in The American Journal of Sociology, vol. 95, no. 5(1990), 1352-1354.
  36. Harrison, Paul R. “The Grandeur and Twilight of Radical Universalism, by Agnes Heller and Ferenc Fehér”, in Contemporary Sciology, vol. 21, Issue. 4(1992), 539-540.
  37. Howard, W.. “Heller, Agnes, Modernity’s pendulum, Thesis Eleven, 1992, 31, 1-13”, in Sociological Abstracts, Vol. 40, no. 5(1992). P. 2265.
  38. Kammas,Anthony. “Introducing Agnes Heller:The Radical Imagination of an unhappy consciousness”, in East European Politics and Societies, Vol.17, Num.4(2003), 712-718.
  39. Köves, Margit. “Ferenc Fehér(1933-1994), Reflections on a Member of the Lukács School”, Social Scientist, Vol. 23, No. 4/6(Apr.-Jun., 1995), pp. 98–107.
  40. Löwy, Michael. “Introduction: Le bilan globalement négatif”, in Agnes Heller and Ferenc Feher, Marxisme et démocratie,trans. Anna Libera. Paris: Maspero, 1981.
  41. Lukács,George. " The Development of the Budapest School," The Times Literary Supplement, No. 3615 (June 11, 1971).
  42. Murphy, Peter. “ Agnes Heller and Ferenc Feher, The Grandeur and Twilight of Radical Universalism”, in Theory and Society, vol. 22, no. 4(1993), 569-575.
  43. Nordquist, J.. “Agnes Heller and the Budapest School: A Bibliography”, .Social Theory, n.59, 2000.
  44. Roberts, David. “ Between Home and World: Agnes Heller’s the Concept of the Beautiful”,in Thesis Eleven, no. 59(1999), 95-101.
  45. Roucek,Joseph S. “The Humanization of Socialism: Writings of the Budapest School”, Social Forces, Vol.56, No.3(Mar.1978)
  46. Rundell, John.“The postmodern ethical condition: A conversation with Agnes Heller”, in Critical Horizons, vol.1, no.1(2000), 136-145.
  47. Shusterman, Rechard. “Saving Art from Aesthetics”, Poetics Today,Vol.8,No.3/4,(1987),651-660.
  48. Simon Tormey, “Preface to the Book on Agnes Heller”, Comparative literature: east & west,2007, num.8.
  49. Stalnaker, Nan.“ The Fake: Forgery and Its Place in Art by Sándor Radnóti” ,The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 200 Jul.(2000), 425-427.
  50. Tormey, Simon. Agnes Heller: Socialism, autonomy and the postmodern. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2001.
  51. Turner, Bryan.S.. “Can Modernity Survive? By Agnes Heller”,in Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 21, No. 1(Jan. 1992), 128-130.
  52. Vardys, V. Stanley. “The Humanization of Socialism: Writings of the Budapest School”. The American Political Science Review, Vol,73, No.2(Jun.1979).
  53. Waller, William .“Towards a Radical Democracy: The Political Economy of the Budapest School by Douglas M. Brown”, Social Science Journal, 1991, Vol. 28, Issue 4.
  54. Wolin, Richard. “ A Radical Philosophy by Agnes Heller ”, New German Critique, No. 38, (Spring, 1986), 196-202.
  55. Wolin, Richard. “Agnes Heller on Everyday Life”, in Theory & Society, Vol. 16, Issue. 2(1987), 295-304.
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