By Peter E. Gordon
From the start to the top of his profession, the serious theorist Theodor W. Adorno sustained an uneasy yet enduring bond with existentialism. His angle 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 air of mystery of pseudo-concreteness and neo-romantic kitsch. Even within the straitened rationalism of Husserl’s phenomenology Adorno observed a useless try to break away from the prison-house of consciousness.
Most students of serious concept 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 chronic fascination with the philosophical canons of existentialism and phenomenology indicates a connection way more effective than mere antipathy. From his first released ebook on Kierkegaard’s aesthetic to the mature experiences in damaging dialectics, Adorno was once without end 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 to become aware of his personal ambition: to flee the enchanted circle of idealism so one can take hold of “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 surprising gentle in this missed bankruptcy within the historical past of Continental philosophy.
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Extra info for Adorno and Existence
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.
34 With this rather striking argument, Adorno sought to reveal an unlikely resemblance between Kierkegaard and the great architect of nineteenth-century philosophical systematicity. Starting Out with Kierkegaard / 25 Aesthetics and Interiority To develop this interpretation of the material and historical underpinnings of Kierkegaard’s work, Adorno offers an extensive analysis of the poetic-metaphoric figure of the mid-nineteenth-century bourgeois dwelling, or intérieur, images of which recur throughout Kierkegaard’s early writings.
Throughout this book I will entertain the possibility that—even in the image of Kierkegaard as the philosopher of bourgeois interiority—Adorno saw his own reflection, however distorted or inverted. But all facts of biography seem to pale in significance when one considers the political and philosophical differences between the two thinkers. The greatest temptation when Starting Out with Kierkegaard / 15 interrogating Adorno’s bond with the philosophy of existence would be to reduce it to a merely political antagonism, as if critical theory and existentialism were little more than rarefied and philosophical names for an essentially political standoff between two opposing ideologies of the mid-twentieth century, socialism and fascism.
Adorno and Existence by Peter E. Gordon