Early Encounters: Sidney Hook, Richard J. Bernstein, and George Novack

  • Ulf Schulenberg


In this chapter, Schulenberg discusses the early encounters between Marxism and pragmatism. He concentrates on Sidney Hook, Richard J. Bernstein, and the American Trotskyist George Novack. In his discussion of Hook, Schulenberg focuses on two questions. First, he asks whether it is possible to advance the idea that the version of Marxism that Hook developed in the 1930s can be called a “pragmatist Marxism.” Second, he endeavors to illuminate what exactly the pragmatist perspective is from which Hook discusses Marxism. In Praxis and Action (1971), Richard J. Bernstein offers a genuinely dialectical critique that proposes that American pragmatists might profit from discussing Marxism. By contrast, the notion of a pragmatist Marxism was not only scandalously oxymoronic to George Novack, it was anathema. Novack’s Pragmatism versus Marxism (1975) is a severe critique of Dewey’s pragmatism. Throughout his text, Novack maintains that pragmatism—which he reads as a middle-class, liberal philosophy—and Marxism are strictly incompatible.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulf Schulenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BremenBremenGermany

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