Adorno's Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly (Modern European Philosophy)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Adorno notoriously asserted that there is no 'right' life in our current social world. This assertion has contributed to the widespread perception that his philosophy has no practical import or coherent ethics, and he is often accused of being too negative. Fabian Freyenhagen reconstructs and defends Adorno's practical philosophy in response to these charges. He argues that Adorno's deep pessimism about the contemporary social world is coupled with a strong optimism about human potential, and that this optimism explains his negative views about the social world, and his demand that we resist and change it. He shows that Adorno holds a substantive ethics, albeit one that is minimalist and based on a pluralist conception of the bad - a guide for living less wrongly. His incisive study does much to advance our understanding of Adorno, and is also an important intervention into current debates in moral philosophy.
natural law intuitionism).31 But what other than discursive grounding can Adorno offer to escape the charge of irrationalism and dogmatism? Sometimes, he distinguishes between ‘grounding [Begründung]’ and ‘vindication [Rechtfertigung]’, criticising and rejecting only the demand for the former.32 To understand why this is and what the difference amounts to, we need to consider – as a first step – what it would be to account for normativity more generally. II What kind of account of normativity
differences – the real issue is whether Adorno can do without an appeal to a positive normative standard, be it that of the good or the right. The reason I run the argument in terms of the former is that the textual evidence would, if at all, point rather to the good than the right as a positive core in Adorno’s work, but nothing really hangs on this for the purposes of the overall argument. Similarly, while Adorno uses a number of other locutions, such as ‘reconciliation’ and ‘utopia’, I will
sensibilities (such as empathy for the suffering of others), we will not recognise the morally salient features of situations and be prompted by this into considering our duties. Kant even says that we have a duty (albeit an indirect one) to develop these sensibilities – say by exposing ourselves to those who suffer from illness and misfortune.7 Also, the mere presence of motivations with which our sensuous nature equips us (say joy in helping others) does not detract from our moral worth, since
view that the world may perish as long as justice is served, there are circumstances where taking this line leads to consequences so disastrous (for example, as in The Wild Duck, the death of an innocent person) that it should have been renounced and Kantians cannot even countenance this possibility. In reply, some Rawlsian neo-Kantians go further still in accommodating consequences. They are prepared to drop the rigorism (in the sense of absolutism) of the eighteenth-century founding father.
Justification, vindication, and explanation 8 Negativism defended 9 Adorno’s negative Aristotelianism Appendix: The jolt – Adorno on spontaneous willing Bibliography Index Acknowledgements In completing this project, I have been greatly assisted by both institutions and individuals, and I hereby want to express my deep gratitude. First of all, my thanks extend to a number of institutions which have supported me financially during the completion of my PhD, a now distant predecessor to this