By Peter E. Gordon
From the start to the top of his profession, the severe theorist Theodor W. Adorno sustained an uneasy yet enduring bond with existentialism. His angle total used to be that of unsparing feedback, verging on polemic. In Kierkegaard he observed an early paragon for the past due flowering of bourgeois solipsism; in Heidegger, an impresario for a “jargon of authenticity” cloaking its idealism in an air of mystery 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 serious concept nonetheless regard those philosophical workouts as marginal works―unfortunate lapses of judgment for a philosopher differently celebrated for dialectical mastery. but his chronic 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 stories in detrimental dialectics, Adorno was once eternally returning to the philosophies of bourgeois interiority, looking the paradoxical relation among their take place failure and their hidden promise.
Ultimately, Adorno observed in them an instructive if unsuccessful try to notice his personal ambition: to flee the enchanted circle of idealism that allows you to seize “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 unexpected gentle in this overlooked bankruptcy within the heritage of Continental philosophy.
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Additional info for Adorno and Existence
18 The political implications of dialectical theology proved highly labile. Although Barth himself radicalized into a vehement critic of the Third Reich (a criticism he made explicit in his June 1933 “Theological Existence Today,” and in the famous “Barmen Declaration,” which he helped to draft the following year). But in the era 18 / Adorno and Existence of political crisis other exponents of the Kierkegaard revival would turn sharply to the right. Gogarten, for example, actually embraced the Nazi regime and the evangelical movement of so-called German Christianity.
58 This conclusion is especially remarkable insofar as it points toward a concept that would only grow in significance for Adorno himself over the coming years. ” Although this passage does not invoke Kierkegaard by name, its governing conceptual contrast—between despair and redemption—reminds us that Adorno was still drawing upon a philosophical lexicon that Kierkegaard had helped to create. ”59 Repeating an argument from the 1940 lecture, this famous passage from Minima Moralia suggests that mere existence must never claim our highest allegiance and that the “mirror” of philosophical reflection must not trap us in a repetition of this existence but should instead reveal its negativity, thereby awakening hope for an unrealized possibility existence denies.
41 As such, the intérieur promises the appearance of unreified truth. Although it is admittedly a “metaphor of technical life,” the apartment serves as the figure of the “temporal present” and as nothing less than the setting of “eternal preparedness” for Christian redemption. Thus a quotidian element of nineteenth-century existence reveals itself in Adorno’s interpretation as a key to Kierkegaard’s entire philosophical doctrine. 42 Starting Out with Kierkegaard / 27 Needless to say, this kind of social and materialist criticism suggests a strong divergence of philosophical perspective between Adorno and Kierkegaard.
Adorno and Existence by Peter E. Gordon