Hegel: Three Studies (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)

Hegel: Three Studies (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)

Theodor W. Adorno

Language: English

Pages: 204

ISBN: 0262510804

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This short masterwork in twentieth-century philosophy provides both a major reinterpretation of Hegel and insight into the evolution of Adorno's critical theory. The first study focuses on the relationship of reason, the individual, and society in Hegel, defending him against the criticism that he was merely an apologist for bourgeois society. The second study examines the experiential content of Hegel's idealism, considering the notion of experience in relation to immediacy, empirical reality, science, and society. The third study, "Skoteinos," is an unusual and fascinating essay in which Adorno lays out his thoughts on understanding Hegel. In his reflections, which spring from his experience teaching at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, questions of textual and philosophical interpretation are intertwined.Rescuing the truth value of Hegel's work is a recurring theme of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, and nowhere is this goal pursued with more insight than in these three studies. The core problem Adorno sets for himself is how to read Hegel in a way that comprehends both the work and its historical context, thereby allowing conclusions to be drawn that may seem on the surface to be exactly opposed to what Hegel wrote but that are, nevertheless, valid as the present truth of the work. It is the elaboration of this method of interpretation, a negative dialectic, that was Adorno's underlying goal.Adorno's efforts to salvage the contemporaneity of Hegel's thought form part of his response to the increasingly tight net of social control in the aftermath of World War II. In this, his work is related to the very different attempts to undermine reified thinking undertaken by the various French theorists. The continued development of what Adorno called "the administered world" has only increased the relevance of his efforts.














already indicates, to explode the position of an isolated or, in Hegelian terms, abstract epistemology. Accordingly, the abun­ dance of experiential concreteness [das Gegenstandliche] that is interpreted by thought in Hegel and Q.ourishes thought in turn, is due not so much to a realistiC frame of mind on Hegel's part as to his method of anamnesis, spirit's immersion in itself, or, in Hegel's words, being's inwardization and self-possession [das in sich Hineingehen, sich Zusammenziehen des

justified Hegel in sub­ jecting everything that confronted thought, as well as thought itself, to the principle of contradiction. It is especially at lhi:s point in Hegel, who wanted to surrender to the movement of the mat­ ter at hand and cure thought of its arbitrariness, that One sus­ pects him of a moment of arbitrariness, of the old dogmatism­ and in fact speculative philosophy since Salomon Maimon has in many respects fallen back upon pre-Kantian rationalism. The fact that Hegel expressed

speak about, to help express the nonidentical despite the fact that expressing it identifies it at the same time. Hegel attempts to do this. Because it can never be said directly, because everything direct and unmediated is false-and therefore necessarily unclear in its expression-he tirelessly says it in mediated form. This is one reason why Hegel invokes totality, however problematic that concept may be. A philosophy that relinquishes this effort in the name of a tempt­ ingly mathematicized

and when the old meaning is thereby dishonored as invalid, is the. other meaning constituted. On the 1 14 Skoteinos, or How to Read Hegel one hand, Hegel handles terms the way nonphilosophical lan­ guage unthinkingly treats many of its words and word classes: as the occasion requires. While some layers of meaning remain constant in such words, others are acquired according to the context. Philosophical language is patterned on naive language to the extent that, skeptical of scientific language,

1992), pp. 320-32 1 . Skoteinos 1. Hegel, WW 4, p. 493; Logic, p. 400. 2. Hegel, WW 1 , p. 60; Difference, pp. 102-103. 3. Cf. this volume, pp. 50-5 1 . 4 . Hegel, WW 8 , par. 2 1 2, addition p. 422; Logic/Encyclopedia I , pp. 351-352. 5. Cf. J. M. E. McTaggart, A Commentary on Hegel's Logic (Cambridge: Cam­ bridge University Press, 1931). 6. Hegel, WW 7, par. 157, p. 236f.; Right, p. 1 l 0. 7. Cf. Hegel, WW 1, p. 56f; cf. Difference, pp. 99-100. 8. Hegel, WW 4, p. 488; Logic, p. 396. 9. Rene

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