Adorno (The Routledge Philosophers)

Adorno (The Routledge Philosophers)

Brian O'Connor

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0415367360

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-69) was one of the foremost philosophers and social theorists of the post-war period. Crucial to the development of Critical Theory, his highly original and distinctive but often difficult writings not only advance questions of fundamental philosophical significance, but provide deep-reaching analyses of literature, art, music sociology and political theory.

In this comprehensive introduction, Brian O’Connor explains Adorno’s philosophy for those coming to his work for the first time, through original new lines of interpretation. Beginning with an overview of Adorno’s life and key philosophical views and influences, which contextualizes the intellectual environment in which he worked, O’Connor assesses the central elements of Adorno’s philosophy.

He carefully examines Adorno’s distinctive style of analysis and shows how much of his work is a critical response to the various forms of identity thinking that have underpinned the destructive forces of modernity. He goes on to discuss the main areas of Adorno’s philosophy: social theory, the philosophy of experience, metaphysics, morality and aesthetics; setting out detailed accounts of Adorno’s notions of the dialectic of Enlightenment, reification, totality, mediation, identity, nonidentity, experience, negative dialectics, immanence, freedom, autonomy, imitation and autonomy in art. The final chapter considers Adorno’s philosophical legacy and importance today.

Including a chronology, glossary, chapter summaries, and suggestions for further reading, Adorno is an ideal introduction to this demanding but important thinker, and essential reading for students of philosophy, literature, sociology and cultural studies.



















give appearances their particular content. (2) The second strand of Adorno’s notion of totality brings us to a very distinctive commitment of the Frankfurt School variety of social theory: the effects of capitalist norms of the social whole. Adorno holds that the shared belief by individuals in the norms of capitalism influences their behaviour, even when those individuals appear not to be engaged in capitalist activities (e.g. when they are engaged in musical production, in philosophy, or in

the task of understanding society. The two leading protagonists were brought together, in 1961, to address a conference in Tübingen. Karl Popper spoke for the side which endeavoured to give sociology a more rigorous, sometimes scientific formulation. Adorno, his opponent, regarded any such position as positivism with its inherent intellectual limitations, or worse, as the ideology of scientism. He was the key representative of the ‘dialectical’ position. The designation ‘dialectical’ was to

concept, judgment – and he likewise tries to demonstrate that experience rests on specifiable conditions. These are conditions which, as transcendental philosophy holds, Experience 55 cannot be ignored or rejected without an attendant loss of theoretical coherence (by the rejecter). Adorno’s conception of experience, then, does not operate in isolation from mainstream approaches. At the same time, Adorno’s investigations are driven by a quite new agenda. The task of the philosophy of

interesting to any interpreter of Adorno. It is not, however, possible to do justice to Adorno’s works of criticism within the space of this book. Instead, this account of his philosophy of experience will extract the main ideas from those critical engagements. 2. An Hegelian conception of experience According to Adorno, as noted above, reified subjects act instrumentally. It was also claimed that reification is not a natural state of affairs. Yet, what would non-reified experience be like? Adorno

(1966). The great work of aesthetics that absorbed him until his death, Aesthetic Theory, remained unfinished. He continued to write on music, producing books and numerous papers in this period, as well as dozens of essays on literature. His abiding worries about empirical social research led him to the forefront of a debate on method in social theory in which he found himself in opposition – in a conference of the German Sociological Society in 1961 – to a supposed adversary, Karl Popper.9 While

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