Adorno's Concept of Life (Bloomsbury Studies in Continental Philosophy)
In this important and engaging new book, Alastair Morgan offers a detailed examination of the concept of life in Adorno's philosophy. He relates Adorno's thought in this context to a number of key thinkers in the history of Continental philosophy, including Marx, Hegel, Heidegger and Agamben, and provides an argument for the relevance and importance of Adorno's critical philosophy of life at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Crucially, Morgan offers a new framework for understanding the relation between concepts of life and a critical philosophy.
The concept of life has previously received little attention in Adorno scholarship. However it is a constant theme and problem running throughout Adorno's work, from his early critiques of life-philosophies to his late philosophy of metaphysical experience as the possibility of life. The idea that Adorno's philosophy is in need of or lacking in a fundamental ontology has been the subject of a great deal of critical attention, but this has rarely been examined through an analysis of the concept of life. Furthermore, philosophies of life have seen a resurgence in recent years (particularly with a renewed interest in Bergson's philosophy via the critical reception of Deleuze's philosophy).
Adorno's Concept of Life is a necessary and timely study that offers a distinctive interpretation of Adorno's philosophy, and will be of central interest to anyone working on Adorno. Furthermore, it provides a powerful interpretation of the critical force of Adorno's philosophy, that will contribute to the renewed interest in the concept of life within contemporary philosophy.
affective awareness of such an object. In an attempt to bridge this gap, and to try and reflect the object as it is, The Life of Things 47 there is a requirement of a subjective act, a projection from the subject on to the object, a conceptual modelling of the object by the subject. However, this aU relies upon an affective mode of being-in-the-world, what Adorno and Horkheimer term the 'delicacy and richness of the outer perceptual world'. 13 This perceptual world can only be responded to
posit itself as independent of objectivity. In the attempt to determine itself as something, the living being must relate itself to something, to objectivity, but in this relating it raises the possibility ofits denial, its dissolution in objectivity. This contradiction, this dichotomy, registers the need for philosophy, and it registers it somatically, as Hegel argues: 'It is said that contradiction is unthinkable: but the fact is that in the pain of a living being it is even an actual
the giant bug in Metamorphosis, and Kafka's many peculiar animal fables ('Investigations of a Dog', 'Josephine the Mouse Singer'), but also small details in the novels themselves such as Leni's fingers being connected by a web ofskin in The Trial, or the frequent descriptions ofwhat psychiatry terms 'inappropriate affect', the accompanying ofsad words with laughter, for exampIe. The physical gestures punctuate and dislocate the linguistic gestures: 'Gestures often serve as counterpoints to words:
atomistic theoretical view of mentallife ... no complete human being can be confined within this experience. 8 Dilthey is important for his linking of a philosophy oflife with a philosophy of experience. For Dilthey, this relation is explicit through his use of the word Erlebnis, which as a singular noun was hardly known in German before his work, although Goethe used the tenn Erlebnisse. 9 For Dilthey an experience described in terms of Erlebnis is something primary and prior to any division of
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