Adorno's Positive Dialectic
This book offers a radically new interpretation of the work of Theodor Adorno. In contrast to the conventional view that Adorno's is in essence a critical philosophy, Yvonne Sherratt systematically traces an utopian thesis that pervades all the major aspects of Adorno's thought. She places Adorno's work in the context of German Idealist and later Marxist and Freudian traditions, and then analyzes his key works to show how the aesthetic, epistemological, psychological, historical and sociological thought interconnect to form an utopian image.
notions. 176 Positive Thesis: The Redemption of Enlightenment Adorno also identifies the (partial) ‘loss of self’ as an indication of the success of the Subject’s act of aesthetic engagement with the artwork. The loss of self is not merely a means to ‘break through’ enlightenment identification, but is a trait of the second kind of identification in its own right. In fact, the phenomenon of a loss of self is at the centre of the second way of ‘knowing the Object’. Through the loss of self the
Intellectual Tradition: German Philosophy 25 Kant aimed to create an ‘end’ to philosophy by solving the key philosophical problems of empiricist and rationalist debates, namely those in morality, metaphysics, and epistemology. To do this he developed, through his three great Critiques,4 the following: a comprehensive metaphysical system which attempted to accommodate the claims of empiricism alongside the claims of rationalism. Moreover, he aspired to incorporate the claims of Christian faith
encapsulate history as a dialectic between enlightenment and myth wherein in spite of aiming to overcome myth, enlightenment is always inextricably connected to it. Having articulated Adorno and Horkheimer’s philosophy from within the German tradition, we can now go on to see how they connect Freud with this. Prelude II Adorno’s Intellectual Tradition: Sigmund Freud Adorno and Horkheimer significantly alter both the German philosophical traditions of Kantian critique and post-Kantian
unpleasure and its first Object is the breast. The way in which it develops the capacity to discern between the internal and the external is related to its drive towards this Object. It is driven towards the pleasure of satisfaction derived from the breast and alarmed, according to Freud, at any impediment to the pleasure that this satisfaction affords. Freud explains that the infant will be very strongly impressed by the fact that some sources of exaltation which he will later recognise as his
as a whole. The (second) form of identity thinking – representational identification – is distinct from the former in that a particular concept is not equivalent to the conceptual system. Rather, the particular concept is ‘incorporated’ into the system, and in this way, for Adorno, is ‘made like’ the system. Whilst in instrumental knowledge acquisition identity thinking occurs in the representational system when a particular concept is ‘made like’ the system, in Negative Thesis: The Decline of