Adorno and the Political by Espen Hammer

By Espen Hammer

Curiosity in Theodor W. Adorno keeps to develop within the English-speaking global because the value of his contribution to philosophy, social and cultural conception, in addition to aesthetics is more and more well-known. Espen Hammer’s lucid publication is the 1st to correctly study the political implications of his paintings, paying cautious recognition to Adorno’s paintings on key thinkers corresponding to Kant, Hegel and Benjamin.

Examining Adorno’s political reports and assessing his engagement with Marxist in addition to liberal conception, Hammer seems to be on the improvement of Adorno’s inspiration as he confronts Fascism and smooth mass tradition. He then analyzes the political size of his philosophical and aesthetic theorizing. through addressing Jürgen Habermas’s influential criticisms, he defends Adorno as a theorist of autonomy, accountability and democratic plurality. He additionally discusses Adorno’s relevance to feminist and ecological considering. in preference to those that see Adorno as an individual who relinquished the political, Hammer’s account exhibits his reflections to be, at the so much basic point, politically prompted and deeply engaged.

This invigorating exploration of a huge political philosopher is an invaluable advent to his concept as a complete, and should be of curiosity to students and scholars within the fields of philosophy, sociology, politics and aesthetics.

“Hammer is to be congratulated for offering a lucid and constant case for the importance of Adorno’s political concept, doing justice to its complexity whereas situating it inside of its particular ancient context.” —Howard Caygill, college of London

“Clearly written, well-structured ... it's a amazing success to have attained this point of readability a couple of subject that's this hard and obscure.” —Raymond Geuss, college of Cambridge

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While Adorno retains this notion as an epistemological key to the analysis of contemporary society, he refuses to apply it as a social-ontological category. Contemporary society may be considered a false totality, yet from the vantage point of theoretical reflection it reveals itself as atomized, contradictory, and recalcitrant to teleological interpretation. As Jay (1984b: 255) succinctly puts it, for all of Adorno’s interest in Lukács and Hegelian Marxism, for all his fascination with the concepts of reification, mediation, and second nature, for all his attraction to the totalizing methodology of Horkheimer’s Institute, he stubbornly maintained that under present circumstances, the anti-holistic lessons he learned from Kracauer, Benjamin, and Schoenberg were of equal, if not greater, value.

On the contrary, it is practice itself, the experience of the effects of the discrepancy between the alienation of labor, on the one hand, and the interrelated claim to be the subject of one’s own life, on the other, which ultimately motivates emancipatory activity. Adorno’s grievances against Lukács’ belief in the self-overcoming of social totality are well known, anticipating as they do much post-Marxist theory (Lyotard, Lefort) of the 1970s and 1980s. For one thing, Adorno is deeply suspicious of the notion of a self-identical subject–object of history.

11 As the title suggests, “On Language” is best approached as a theory of language, or rather of the relationship between language and world. 12 He further dramatizes this speculative conception by imagining a collapse from an original Adamitic language, a divine language of names that were grounded in God’s presence and then bestowed by man on a mute creation, to a human language of concepts and predication. While the former had a foundation de re, reflecting the order of the divine so as to be expressive of world as it is in itself, the latter, though a means of communication, ceased to be an immediate expression of the things themselves, leaving post-lapsarian nature mute and alien.

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