Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) by Alex Thomson

By Alex Thomson

Some of the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can frequently appear vague and impenetrable, quite for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A consultant for the puzzled is an interesting and available account of his suggestion that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and people who have struggled to make headway together with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: basically written, finished and in particular all for simply what makes Adorno tough to learn and comprehend.


“'Alex Thompson's ebook not just illuminates Adorno's most crucial principles, it makes an unique contribution to modern social theory... The publication may be of serious clarificatory use for undergraduates, and may supply a lot stimulus to postgraduates and lecturers as well.' Darrow Schecter, collage of Sussex”

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Sample text

The culture on which it had prided itself did not prevent Germany from collapsing into barbarism; nor did the artistic avant-gardes. Seen only from within, this could only lead to a sense of crisis and catastrophe. But coming to terms with America means facing the possibility that 'the concept of culture in which one has grown up has . . itself become obsolete' (CM 241). It means looking at culture from the inside, as a project doomed to perpetuate itself only through vicious and violent contradictions; but also from the outside, as a determined historical and political project, and therefore neither a natural nor the only possible one.

Extracts from older writings by both were copied and pasted up on posters, or distributed in 32 AGAINST AUTHENTICITY leaflets: an exercise in immanent critique, perhaps, in which onlookers were invited to measure the truth of the two men's actions against their earlier ideas. Both the students and the younger generation of the Frankfurt School scholars wished to turn back the clock, and to reverse Adorno and Horkheimer's intellectual development. Their radical opponents wanted to recover the revolutionary fervour of the late Weimar and early Nazi era; their colleagues the idea of a total social theory.

Indeed, looking back over his time in the USA, Adorno comments that he was 'liberated from a naive belief in culture, acquired the ability to see culture from the outside'. Before his arrival in New York, his belief in the 'absolute and natural importance of spirit was always natural and obvious to me' (CM 239). But the lack of reverence for the works of intellect and spirit he saw in the USA opened his eyes. Rather than confirming a belief in the superiority of the continent he had left behind, Adorno found himself in a new world.

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