Theodor Adorno (Routledge Critical Thinkers)
The range of Adorno's achievement, and the depth of his insights, is breathtaking and daunting. His work on literary, artistic, and musical forms, his devastating indictment of modern industrial society, and his profound grasp of Western culture from Homer to Hollywood have made him one of the most significant figures in twentieth-century thought.
As one of the main philosophers of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, Adorno’s influence on literary theory, cultural studies, and philosophical aesthetics has been immense. His wide-ranging authorship is significant also to continental philosophy, political theory, art criticism, and musicology. Key ideas discussed in this guide include:
- art and aesthetics
- fun and free time
- nature and reason
- things, thoughts and being right
This Routledge Critical Thinkers guide will equip readers with the tools required to critically interpret Adorno’s major works, whilst also introducing readers to his interpretation of classical German philosophy and his relationship to the most significant of his contemporaries.
Adorno and Horkheimer, it is not at all the case that the satisfaction of material needs and desires is somehow not a concern for reason. Reason that is reason, rather than a merely self-perpetuating mechanism, is meant not simply to enable the continuation of life but rather to make life worth living. Adorno and Horkheimer claim that reason turns back on and destroys itself – and this is the key to this claim – precisely when it seeks to establish itself as purely rational; that is, as entirely
culture industry – unlike art, for reasons that I will set out fully in the next chapter – remains a part of empirical existence. As a mere part, it fails to be a whole. This aspect of the products of the culture industry – that they do not constitute successful aesthetic wholes – is perhaps the chief consequence of the fact that, unlike artworks, they are not distinct from empirical reality. Whereas art is counterpoised to reality, products of the culture industry are part of and, crucially,
for supporting my work. I would not have begun writing this book without Simon Jarvis. I am extremely happy to acknowledge my gratitude to him. I would not have finished writing it without the tireless support of my wife, Lesley Wylie. This book is dedicated to her. I alone am to blame for the flaws in it. * * * ABBREVIATIONS AP 'The Actuality of Philosophy' AT Aesthetic Theory CI The Culture Industry CM Critical Models DE Dialectic of Enlightenment HTS Hegel: Three
Germany, Adorno was extremely critical of any suggestion that business as usual was still possible. Whatever remains of the private existence upon which bourgeois individualism was based is not immune to the catastrophic course of world events, but, rather, is robbed of whatever used to be good in it. Thus, 'privacy has given way to the privation it always secretly was' (MM: 34). Moral theory, then, can hardly be salvaged from the wider immorality of society. There is, for Adorno, no inner core
great majority of his works in German. Many of his most important books have now been translated into English, some more successfully than others. The standard edition of Adorno's works in German is the Gesammelte Schriften, 20 vols, ed. by Rolf Tiedemann, with Gretel Adorno and Susan Buck-Morss (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1970–86). The ongoing edition of Adorno's posthumous works, some of which have been translated into English and published by Polity Press, is the Nachgelassene Schriften