Because of his preoccupation with the formal aspects of music and literature, Theodor W. Adorno is often regarded as the most aesthetically oriented thinker of the Frankfurt School theorists. It is Adorno’s (mis)perceived commitment to aestheticism—the study of art for art’s sake and the study of art as a source of sensuous pleasure, rather than as a vehicle for culturally constructed morality or meaning—that many scholars have criticized as hostile to genuine, concrete, substantive political, social, and ethical engagement with the arts.
Adorno and Ethics—the first issue of New German Critique to be published by Duke University Press—takes issue with Adorno’s critics. These essays reconsider Adorno’s unique brand of aestheticism, revealing a “politics of aestheticism” and exploring the political and ethical dimensions of his writings. One contributor links the ethical turn taken in Adorno criticism with related developments in American poetry and poetics. Another examines Adorno’s aphorism “Gold Assay” for the ways in which it anticipates one of his seminal works, The Jargon of Authenticity. Focusing on Auschwitz and the testimony of its survivors, one contributor explores the impact of the Holocaust on modern philosophy and reason, a relationship that he argues Adorno never specified. Another contributor considers the figure of the animal in the writings of Kant, Adorno, and Lévinas, exploring what it might mean to live, as Adorno suggests, as “a good animal.”
Contributors. J. M. Bernstein, Detlev Claussen, Samir Gandesha, Alexander García Düttmann, Christina Gerhardt, Martin Jay, Robert Kaufman, Michael Marder, Gerhard Richter