Martin Jay Harvard University Press, 1984 Library of Congress HM22.G3A33 1984 | Dewey Decimal 193
Adorno and Existence
Peter E. Gordon Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress B3199.A34G67 2016 | Dewey Decimal 193
From the beginning to the end of his career, the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno sustained an uneasy but enduring bond with existentialism. His attitude overall was that of unsparing criticism, verging on polemic. In Kierkegaard he saw an early paragon for the late flowering of bourgeois solipsism; in Heidegger, an impresario for a “jargon of authenticity” cloaking its idealism in an aura of pseudo-concreteness and neo-romantic kitsch. Even in the straitened rationalism of Husserl’s phenomenology Adorno saw a vain attempt to break free from the prison-house of consciousness.
“Gordon, in a detailed, sensitive, fair-minded way, leads the reader through Adorno’s various, usually quite vigorous, rhetorically pointed attacks on both transcendental and existential phenomenology from 1930 on…[A] singularly illuminating study.” —Robert Pippin, Critical Inquiry
“Gordon’s book offers a significant contribution to our understanding of Adorno’s thought. He writes with expertise, authority, and compendious scholarship, moving with confidence across the thinkers he examines…After this book, it will not be possible to explain Adorno’s philosophical development without serious consideration of [Gordon’s] reactions to them.” —Richard Westerman, Symposium
Ever since Kant and Hegel, the notion of autonomy—the idea that we are beholden to no law except one we impose upon ourselves—has been considered the truest philosophical expression of human freedom. But could our commitment to autonomy, as Theodor Adorno asked, be related to the extreme evils that we have witnessed in modernity? In Autonomy after Auschwitz, Martin Shuster explores this difficult question with astonishing theoretical acumen, examining the precise ways autonomy can lead us down a path of evil and how it might be prevented from doing so.
Shuster uncovers dangers in the notion of autonomy as it was originally conceived by Kant. Putting Adorno into dialogue with a range of European philosophers, notably Kant, Hegel, Horkheimer, and Habermas—as well as with a variety of contemporary Anglo-American thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, and Robert Pippin—he illuminates Adorno’s important revisions to this fraught concept and how his different understanding of autonomous agency, fully articulated, might open up new and positive social and political possibilities. Altogether, Autonomy after Auschwitz is a meditation on modern evil and human agency, one that demonstrates the tremendous ethical stakes at the heart of philosophy.
This book brings together two of the most important figures of twentieth-century criticism, Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, to consider a topic that was central to their thinking: the place of and reason for art in society and culture. Thijs Lijster takes us through points of agreement and disagreement between the two on such key topics as the relationship between art and historical experience, between avant-garde art and mass culture, and between the intellectual and the public. He also addresses the continuing relevance of Benjamin and Adorno to ongoing debates in contemporary aesthetics, such as the end of art, the historical meaning of art, and the role of the critic.
The correspondence between Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, which appears here for the first time in its entirety in English translation, must rank among the most significant to have come down to us from that notable age of barbarism, the twentieth century. Benjamin and Adorno formed a uniquely powerful pair. Benjamin, riddle-like in his personality and given to tactical evasion, and Adorno, full of his own importance, alternately support and compete with each other throughout the correspondence, until its imminent tragic end becomes apparent to both writers. Each had met his match, and happily, in the other. This book is the story of an elective affinity. Adorno was the only person who managed to sustain an intimate intellectual relationship with Benjamin for nearly twenty years. No one else, not even Gershom Scholem, coaxed so much out of Benjamin.
The more than one hundred letters in this book will allow readers to trace the developing character of Benjamin's and Adorno's attitudes toward each other and toward their many friends. When this book appeared in German, it caused a sensation because it includes passages previously excised from other German editions of the letters--passages in which the two friends celebrate their own intimacy with frank remarks about other people. Ideas presented elliptically in the theoretical writings are set forth here with much greater clarity. Not least, the letters provide material crucial for understanding the genesis of Benjamin's Arcades Project.
Called “the most important critic of his time” by Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin has only become more influential over the years, as his work has assumed a crucial place in current debates over the interactions of art, culture, and meaning. A “natural and extraordinary talent for letter writing was one of the most captivating facets of his nature,” writes Gershom Scholem in his Foreword to this volume; and Benjamin's correspondence reveals the evolution of some of his most powerful ideas, while also offering an intimate picture of Benjamin himself and the times in which he lived.
Writing at length to Scholem and Theodor Adorno, and exchanging letters with Rainer Maria Rilke, Hannah Arendt, Max Brod, and Bertolt Brecht, Benjamin elaborates on his ideas about metaphor and language. He reflects on literary figures from Kafka to Karl Kraus, and expounds his personal attitudes toward such subjects as Marxism and French national character. Providing an indispensable tool for any scholar wrestling with Benjamin’s work, The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin, 1910–1940 is a revelatory look at the man behind much of the twentieth century’s most significant criticism.
We often say that music is ineffable, that it does not refer to anything outside of itself. But if music, in all its sensuous flux, does not mean anything in particular, might it still have a special kind of philosophical significance?
In Deep Refrains, Michael Gallope draws together the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, Vladimir Jankélévitch, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari in order to revisit the age-old question of music’s ineffability from a modern perspective. For these nineteenth- and twentieth-century European philosophers, music’s ineffability is a complex phenomenon that engenders an intellectually productive sense of perplexity. Through careful examination of their historical contexts and philosophical orientations, close attention to their use of language, and new interpretations of musical compositions that proved influential for their work, Deep Refrains forges the first panoptic view of their writings on music. Gallope concludes that music’s ineffability is neither a conservative phenomenon nor a pious call to silence. Instead, these philosophers ask us to think through the ways in which music’s stunning force might address, in an ethical fashion, intricate philosophical questions specific to the modern world.
In A Democratic Enlightenment Morton Schoolman proposes aesthetic education through film as a way to redress the political violence inflicted on difference that society constructs as its racialized, gendered, Semitic, and sexualized other. Drawing on Voltaire, Diderot, and Schiller, Schoolman reconstructs the genealogical history of what he calls the reconciliation image—a visual model of a democratic ideal of reconciliation he then theorizes through Whitman's prose and poetry and Adorno's aesthetic theory. Analyzing The Help (2011) and Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Schoolman shows how film produces a more advanced image of reconciliation than those originally created by modernist artworks. Each film depicts violence toward racial and ethnic difference while also displaying a reconciliation image that aesthetically educates the public about how the violence of constructing difference as otherness can be overcome. Mounting a democratic enlightenment, the reconciliation image in film illuminates a possible politics for challenging the rise of nationalism's violence toward differences in all their diversity.
The unprecedented mass manipulation, mass death, and trauma of World War II created a heightened interest in technology and totalitarianism among European and American intellectuals. The Disposition of the Subject explores Theodor Adorno's attempt to hinder further atrocity through philosophical analysis of technology and of its contribution to totalitarianisms of various kinds: political, aesthetic, epistemological.
Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno were intellectual giants of the first half of the twentieth century. The drama Foreplay explores their deeply human and psychologically intriguing private lives, focusing on professional and personal jealousies, the mutual dislike of Theodor Adorno and Hannah Arendt, the association between Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille, and the border between erotica and pornography.
Djerassi’s extensive biographical research brings to light many fascinating details revealed in the dialogues among the characters, including Adorno’s obsession with his dreams, Benjamin’s admiration for Franz Kafka, and the intimate correspondence between Gretel Adorno and Walter Benjamin. The introduction of a fictitious character, Fräulein X, intensifies the complex interplay among the four lead protagonists and allows for a comparison of Adorno’s philandering and the similar behavior of Martin Heidegger, whose affair with Hannah Arendt is well known. Foreplay brims with intrigue and the friction created when strong personalities clash.
Beginning in 1949, Theodor W. Adorno and other members of the reconstituted Frankfurt Institute for Social Research undertook a massive empirical study of German opinions about the legacies of the Nazis, applying and modifying techniques they had learned during their U.S. exile. They published their results in 1955 as a research monograph edited by Friedrich Pollock. The study's qualitative results are published here for the first time in English as Guilt and Defense, a psychoanalytically informed analysis of the rhetorical and conceptual mechanisms with which postwar Germans most often denied responsibility for the Nazi past. In their editorial introduction, Jeffrey K. Olick and Andrew J. Perrin show how Adorno’s famous 1959 essay “The Meaning of Working through the Past,” is comprehensible only as a conclusion to his long-standing research and as a reaction to the debate it stirred; this volume also includes a critique by psychologist Peter R. Hoffstater as well as Adorno’s rejoinder. This previously little-known debate provides important new perspectives on postwar German political culture, on the dynamics of collective memory, and on Adorno’s intellectual legacies, which have contributed more to empirical social research than has been acknowledged. A companion volume, Group Experiment and Other Writings, will present the first book-length English translation of the Frankfurt Group's conceptual, methodological, and theoretical innovations in public opinion research.
During the occupation of West Germany after the Second World War, the American authorities commissioned polls to assess the values and opinions of ordinary Germans. They concluded that the fascist attitudes of the Nazi era had weakened to a large degree. Theodor W. Adorno and his Frankfurt School colleagues, who returned in 1949 from the United States, were skeptical. They held that standardized polling was an inadequate and superficial method for exploring such questions. In their view, public opinion is not simply an aggregate of individually held opinions, but is fundamentally a public concept, formed through interaction in conversations and with prevailing attitudes and ideas “in the air.” In Group Experiment, edited by Friedrich Pollock, they published their findings on their group discussion experiments that delved deeper into the process of opinion formation. Andrew J. Perrin and Jeffrey K. Olick make a case that these experiments are an important missing link in the ontology and methodology of current social-science survey research.
Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy
Theodor W. Adorno University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress ML410.M23A5513 1991 | Dewey Decimal 780.924
Theodor W. Adorno goes beyond conventional thematic analysis to gain a more complete understanding of Mahler's music through his character, his social and philosophical background, and his moment in musical history. Adorno examines the composer's works as a continuous and unified development that began with his childhood response to the marches and folk tunes of his native Bohemia.
Since its appearance in 1960 in German, Mahler has established itself as a classic of musical interpretation. Now available in English, the work is presented here in a translation that captures the stylistic brilliance of the original.
Theodor W. Adorno (1903-69), one of the foremost members of the Frankfurt school of critical theory, studied with Alban Berg in Vienna during the late twenties, and was later the director of the Institute of Social Research at the University of Frankfurt from 1956 until his death. His works include Aesthectic Theory, Introduction to the Sociology of Music, The Jargon of Authenticity, Prism, and Philosophy of Modern Music.
The Powers of Sensibility: Aesthetic Politics through Adorno, Foucault, and Rancière explores the role aesthetic resources can play in an emancipatory politics. Michael Feola engages both critical theory and unruly political movements to challenge familiar anxieties about the intersection of politics and aesthetics. He shows how perception, sensibility, and feeling may contribute vital resources for conceptualizing citizenship, agency, and those spectacles that increasingly define global protest culture.
Feola provides insightful engagements with the works of Adorno, Foucault, and Rancière as well as a survey of contemporary debates on aesthetics and politics. He uses this aesthetic framework to develop a more robust account of political agency, demonstrating that politics is not reducible to the exchange of views or the building of institutions, but rather incorporates public modes of feeling, seeing, and hearing (or not-seeing and not-hearing). These sensory modes must themselves be transformed in the work of emancipatory politics.
The book explores the core question: what does the aesthetic offer that is missing from the official languages of politics, citizenship, and power? Of interest to readers in the fields of critical theory, political theory, continental philosophy, and aesthetics, The Powers of Sensibility roots itself within the classical tradition of critical theory and yet uses these resources to speak to a variety of contemporary political movements.
Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno both turned to canonical literary narratives to determine why the Enlightenment project was derailed and how this failure might be remedied. The resultant works, Benjamin’s major essay on Goethe’s Elective Affinities and Adorno’s meditation on the Odyssey in Dialectic of Enlightenment, are centrally concerned with the very act of narration. Márton Dornbach’s groundbreaking book reconstructs a hitherto unnoticed, wide-ranging dialogue between these foundational texts of the Frankfurt School.
At the heart of Dornbach’s argument is a critical model that Benjamin built around the concept of caesura, a model Adorno subsequently reworked. Countering an obscurantism that would become complicit in the rise of fascism, the two theorists aligned moments of arrest in narratives mired in unreason. Although this model responded to a specific historical emergency, it can be adapted to identify utopian impulses in a variety of works.
The Saving Line throws fresh light on the intellectual exchange and disagreements between Benjamin and Adorno, the problematic conjunction of secular reason and negative theology in their thinking, and their appropriations of ancient and modern legacies. It will interest scholars of philosophy and literature, critical theory, German Jewish thought, classical reception studies, and narratology.
Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969) was one of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers. In light of two pivotal developments—the rise of fascism, which culminated in the Holocaust, and the standardization of popular culture as a commodity indispensable to contemporary capitalism—Adorno sought to evaluate and synthesize the essential insights of Western philosophy by revisiting the ethical and sociological arguments of his predecessors: Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel, and Marx. This book, first published in Germany in 1996, provides a succinct introduction to Adorno’s challenging and far-reaching thought. Gerhard Schweppenhäuser, a leading authority on the Frankfurt School of critical theory, explains Adorno’s epistemology, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and theory of culture.
After providing a brief overview of Adorno’s life, Schweppenhäuser turns to the theorist’s core philosophical concepts, including post-Kantian critique, determinate negation, and the primacy of the object, as well as his view of the Enlightenment as a code for world domination, his diagnosis of modern mass culture as a program of social control, and his understanding of modernist aesthetics as a challenge to conceive an alternative politics. Along the way, Schweppenhäuser illuminates the works widely considered Adorno’s most important achievements: Minima Moralia, Dialectic of Enlightenment (co-authored with Horkheimer), and Negative Dialectics. Adorno wrote much of the first two of these during his years in California (1938–49), where he lived near Arnold Schoenberg and Thomas Mann, whom he assisted with the musical aesthetics at the center of Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus.
He was famously hostile to biography as a literary form. And yet this life of Adorno by one of his last students is far more than literary in its accomplishments, giving us our first clear look at how the man and his moment met to create “critical theory.” An intimate picture of the quintessential twentieth-century transatlantic intellectual, the book is also a window on the cultural ferment of Adorno’s day—and its ongoing importance in our own.
The biography begins at the shining moment of the German bourgeoisie, in a world dominated by liberals willing to extend citizenship to refugees fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe. Detlev Claussen follows Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno (1903–1969) from his privileged life as a beloved prodigy to his intellectual coming of age in Weimar Germany and Vienna; from his exile during the Nazi years, first to England, then to the United States, to his emergence as the Adorno we know now in the perhaps not-so-unlikely setting of Los Angeles. There in 1943 with his collaborator Max Horkheimer, Adorno developed critical theory, whose key insight—that to be entertained is to give one’s consent—helped define the intellectual landscape of the twentieth century.
In capturing the man in his complex relationships with some of the century’s finest minds—including, among others, Arnold Schoenberg, Walter Benjamin, Thomas Mann, Siegfried Kracauer, Georg Lukács, Hannah Arendt, and Bertolt Brecht—Claussen reveals how much we have yet to learn from Theodor Adorno, and how much his life can tell us about ourselves and our time.
Essays by Adorno on art and cinema, available in English for the first time.
In Without Model, Theodor W. Adorno strikingly demonstrates the intellectual range for which he is known. Taking the premise of the title as his guiding principle, that artistic and philosophical thought must eschew preconceptions and instead adapt itself to its time, circumstances, and object, Adorno presents a series of essays reflecting on culture at different levels, from the details of individual products to the social conditions of their production. He shows his more nostalgic side in the childhood reminiscences of ‘Amorbach’, but also his acute sociocultural analysis on the central topic of the culture industry. He criticizes attempts to maintain tradition in music and visual art, arguing against a restorative approach by stressing the modernity and individuality of historical works in the context of their time. In all of these essays, available for the first time in English, Adorno displays the remarkable thinking of one both steeped in tradition and dedicated to seeing beyond it.