Virtual Special Issue: Agnes Heller in Thesis Eleven


It is an honour to be asked to introduce Agnes Heller and her Thesis Eleven essays on this platform, heralded so precisely, and presenced so powerfully by John Rundell’s opening essay. As the Table of Contents suggests, there are many possible ways to read Agnes Heller, to periodise or to thematise her work. Read early, or late, there are serious differences across her trajectory. But there is only one Agnes Heller. Put differently, it is a long way from value to comedy; and yet not. The thematic distinctions suggested here are fruitful: modernity; needs, value, anthropology; home; migrations. How do these papers hang together? Editorially speaking, we at Thesis Eleven likely had a privileged period of access to Agnes’ papers during the time of their Australian exile. We worked as their Englishers, which often gave us first bite on these papers. Agi and Feri had encouraged us to be bold, to go out and ask, and to ask big, and we did, for example with Castoriadis, whose major English language publisher we probably also became after Telos. And so we also became bold with them. I still now remember the enormous pleasure of securing the essay on Home, and much later that of the ‘Three Logics of Modernity’ for our pages and our readers. These are among my Thesis Eleven favourites. The first is conversational, ruminative, suggestive of the intimacies of everyday life, beautifully written, uncluttered, introspective, certainly retrospective. The second is tougher, more forceful, strong yet still somehow suggestive in its purpose, still experimental, firm but contingent, still nagging at questions of modernity which they posited in Theory and Society twenty years earlier. Agnes gave us then, and now, less perhaps the sense that she was prepared to die for any particular position than that she might be prepared to die for the process of consideration and argument. She could talk for hours, and she did. What we were able to publish was just a glimpse of the energy, stamina and curiosity that she was also willing upon us. As Rundell observes, there was always more to the process than Agnes. What is reflected in these essays, by way of defining context, is, I think at least three other presences: Ferenc Fehér; George Markus; and differently, us. Thesis Eleven was not the creature of the Budapest School in exile, yet the influence of Agnes and her friends and immediate colleagues was a necessarily enabling condition of our existence. We are deeply grateful for this opportunity to celebrate her work, and theirs, and our relationship; and we are in debt to our younger generation: Julian Potter, Timothy Andrews and Andrew Gilbert for sponsoring and developing this online voice. In its own way the legacy is passed on.

Peter Beilharz

Virtual Special Issue: Agnes Heller in Thesis Eleven

Guest Edited by John Rundell


Table of Contents

Agnes Heller: Critical theory, value reflexivity and horizons of modernity

John Rundell (July 2016)


Part 1: Modernity and Politics

The Three Logics of Modernity and the Double Bind of the Modern Imagination

Agnes Heller (May 2005) Volume 81

Modernity’s Pendulum

Agnes Heller (February 1992) Volume 31

Marx and Modernity

Agnes Heller (February 1984) Volume 8, Issue 1

Reviews : John Burnheim, Is Democracy Possible?(Cambridge: Polity Press, 1985)

Agnes Heller (May 1986) Volume 14

From Totalitarian Dictatorship through “Rechtsstaat” to Democracy: Legal-Constitutional Changes in Soviet-Type Societies

Ferenc Fehér and Agnes Heller (May 1990) Volume 26

The Fear of Power. A Contribution to the Genesis and Morphology of Eurocommunism

Ferenc Fehér and Agnes Heller (February 1981) Volume 2

The End of Communism

Agnes Heller (August 1990) Volume 27

Radical Evil in Modernity: On Genocide, Totalitarian Terror and the Holocaust

Agnes Heller (May 2010) Volume 101


Part 2: Needs and a Philosophy of Value

The Discourse Ethics of Habermas: Critique and Appraisal

Agnes Heller (February 1985) Volume 14

The Human Condition

Agnes Heller (February 1987) Volume 16

A Theory of Needs Revisited

Agnes Heller (May 1993) Volume 35

Death of the Subject

Agnes Heller (February 1990) Volume 25

Are We Living in a World of Emotional Impoverishment?

Agnes Heller (February 1989) Volume 22

The Emotional Division of Labour Between the Sexes: Perspectives on Feminism and Socialism

Agnes Heller (May 1982) Volume 5/6

Equality Reconsidered: Postscript (1981) to Forms of Equality

Ferenc Fehér and Agnes Heller (May 1981) Volume 3


Part 3: Where Are We At Home?

Where Are We At Home?

Agnes Heller (May 1995) Volume 41

Philosophy As A Literary Genre

Agnes Heller (June 2012) Volume 110

Is Truth Historical?

Agnes Heller (May 1991) Volume 29

The Contemporary Historical Novel

Agnes Heller (August 2011) Volume 106

The Gods of Greece: Germans and the Greeks

Agnes Heller (February 2008) Volume 93

The Ironies Beyond Philosophy: On Richard Rorty’s “Contingency, Irony and Solidarity”

Agnes Heller (February 1991) Volume 28

World, Things, Life and Home

Agnes Heller (August 1992) Volume 33

Part 4: Migrations

Arriving in Australia

Agnes Heller (February 2010) Volume 100

An Interview with Agnes Heller

Agnes Heller and Stefan Auer (May 2009) Volume 97

3 thoughts on “Virtual Special Issue: Agnes Heller in Thesis Eleven

  1. Pingback: Political Theory – Habermas and Rawls: A Dialogue between Agnes Heller & Jürgen Habermas – Pollitics News

  2. Pingback: Agnes Heller (1929-2019) | thesis eleven

  3. Pingback: Remembering Ágnes Heller -

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