By Peter E. Gordon
From the start to the tip of his profession, the severe theorist Theodor W. Adorno sustained an uneasy yet enduring bond with existentialism. His perspective total was once that of unsparing feedback, verging on polemic. In Kierkegaard he observed an early paragon for the overdue flowering of bourgeois solipsism; in Heidegger, an impresario for a “jargon of authenticity” cloaking its idealism in an charisma of pseudo-concreteness and neo-romantic kitsch. Even within the straitened rationalism of Husserl’s phenomenology Adorno observed a useless try and separate from from the prison-house of consciousness.
Most students of severe thought nonetheless regard those philosophical routines as marginal works―unfortunate lapses of judgment for a philosopher in a different way celebrated for dialectical mastery. but his continual fascination with the philosophical canons of existentialism and phenomenology indicates a connection way more efficient than mere antipathy. From his first released e-book on Kierkegaard’s aesthetic to the mature experiences in adverse dialectics, Adorno was once perpetually returning to the philosophies of bourgeois interiority, looking the paradoxical relation among their happen failure and their hidden promise.
Ultimately, Adorno observed in them an instructive if unsuccessful try and detect his personal ambition: to flee the enchanted circle of idealism in order to clutch “the primacy of the object.” workouts in “immanent critique,” Adorno’s writings on Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Heidegger current us with a photographic negative―a philosophical portrait of the writer himself. In Adorno and Existence, Peter E. Gordon casts new and strange mild in this overlooked bankruptcy within the heritage of Continental philosophy.
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Additional resources for Adorno and Existence
44 / Adorno and Existence In the “Actuality” lecture Adorno did not develop this point at great length; it would emerge as a major theme in his critique of existentialism only in the writings of the postwar era, especially in Negative Dialectics and The Jargon of Authenticity. ” No less than the Vienna school, phenomenology pretends that its aim is little more than faithful description and therefore imagines that it can convert philosophy into a purely descriptive science. Their shared premise is that reality makes itself available to the researcher as a coherent field, governed either by the overt rules of empiricism or by the more elusive existential categories of an all-pervasive being.
Adorno denies that philosophy should confine itself to the task of either positivist or phenomenological description. The fatal error that afflicts all of Heidegger’s earlier and explicitly phenomenological studies is the belief that the question of being admits of a single and decisive answer (the Sinn von Sein); this answer is supposed to emerge from the experience of questioning as if it were little more than a “discovery” of a datum that was half forgotten or partially obscured. ” For Adorno philosophy must abandon this expectation of philosophical discovery since it encourages a misleading model of thought as mere “research” that is borrowed illicitly from the natural sciences.
49 Despite this confession, Adorno did not keep his discontent a secret for long. In the first review, he took strong exception to Wahl’s interpretation chiefly because it had failed to mention the reactionary appropriation of Kierkegaard’s ideas. ” More troubling still for Adorno was Wahl’s effort of rendering harmless (Verharmlosung) those facets of Kierkegaard that earlier interpreters such as Heidegger 30 / Adorno and Existence and Jaspers had bent toward “conformist and ideological” ends. ’ In other words: whether this ambitious effort has not had the effect of flattening him out.
Adorno and Existence by Peter E. Gordon