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Summary

Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969) was a first-generation member of the Frankfurt School For Social Research. As was the case with his fellow 'Critical Theorists' Horkheimer and Marcuse et al, his work was interdisciplinary and considerably Marxist. His task, as he saw it, was to use philosophy, sociology and other tools to understand the evils of the past and present, thereby helping to prepare the possibility – he thought one could do little more than that – of a better future. Adorno’s largest philosophical debts are to Kant, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche. Adorno drew upon those thinkers, and others including Freud and Walter Benjamin, in creating a distinctive approach to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy.

Key works

Adorno’s magnum opus, Negative Dialectics (first published 1966), is as much a critique of metaphysics, epistemology and of systematic philosophy in general as it is a contribution to those endeavours. Somewhat similar – and working via an account of Husserl’s phenomenology – is the earlier Metacritique of Epistemology (first published in 1956). The posthumously published Aesthetic Theory is also very important; given the centrality of aesthetics to Adorno’s philosophy, it is not ‘just’ a work on aesthetics. There are other important works. Dialectic of Enlightenment (co-written with Max Horkheimer; first published in 1947) presents a case that the Enlightenment has disastrously misfired. Minima Moralia (1951) is a careful and quintessentially Adornian aphoristic text, covering many subjects but especially social, political and ethical ones. Hegel: Three Studies (1963) is something of a preparation for Negative Dialectics. Among the recently translated lecture courses, Problems of Moral Philosophy is perhaps the most enlightening.

Introductions

Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts, edited by D. Cook, might be the most accessible introduction to this difficult thinker. Other introductions include works by B. O’Connor, G. Rose, S. Jarvis, and chapters 5 and 7 of D. Held. Adorno’s lectures (such as the aforementioned Problems of Moral Philosophy) are also useful as introductions.

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1363 found
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  1. Governing Through Conflict: On Adorno's Critique of Postwar Sociology.Yasmin Afshar - forthcoming - Wiley: Constellations.
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  2. The" Clatter of Triplicity". Adorno's Reception of Hegel.Daniel Althof - forthcoming - Hegel-Studien.
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  3. Notes on Adorno's 'Resignation'.Aaron Bell - forthcoming - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary:NA.
    Introduction to and critical examination of Theodor Adorno's essay "Resignation." Deals with the theory/praxis debate, Adorno's confrontation with the radical student movements in the 1960's, and the charge that Adorno was either politically conservative or an ineffective pessimist.
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  4. Technology, Freedom, and the Mechanization of Labor in the Philosophies of Hegel and Adorno.Joel Bock - forthcoming - Philosophy and Technology:1-23.
    This paper investigates the compatibility of Hegel’s analyses of the mechanization of work in industrial society with Hegel’s notion of freedom as rational self-determination. Work as such is for Hegel a crucial moment on the way to a more complete realization of human freedom, but, as I maintain with Adorno, the technological developments of the last two centuries raise the question of whether the nature of work itself has changed since the industrial revolution. In his Jena lectures, Hegel recognized significant (...)
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  5. Ben Watson, Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play.W. Bonefeld - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  6. Critique et métacritique.R. P. Stanislas Breton - forthcoming - Les Etudes Philosophiques.
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  7. Christoph Menke, The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida.A. Fisher - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  8. Adorno, Theodor.Dustin Garlitz - forthcoming - In Klaus Bruhn Jensen & Robert T. Craig (eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Theory. Wiley-Blackwell.
    The article focuses on the scholarly career of German sociologist, philosopher, and musicologist Theodor W. Adorno. Examined are his leading publications, his notable teachers and collaborators, and his time in exile in the United States, among other places. Special emphasis is placed on his negative dialectics, including how this perspective formed a method of communication in itself. Adorno's contributions to the Frankfurt School, and to 20th-century Continental philosophy, sociology, and musicology, are also covered.
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  9. Fear of Nature, Fear of Self, Fear of Society: Psychic Defense Mechanisms in Adorno's Theory of Culture and Experience.Todd Hedrick - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    This paper argues that the diagnostic import of Adorno’s culture industry writings lie in the psychoanalytically-rooted claim that contemporary culture is losing its ability to negate and reconfigure experience, due to the modern subject’s instrumentalized relationship to culture. Adorno uses psychoanalytic ideas—namely, modified and historicized versions of Freud’s theory of the instincts, ego formation, the reality principle, and the superego—to show that changes in the social organization of the psyche, which track the transition from myth to enlightenment, put the ego (...)
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  10. Adorno's Aesthetic Model of Social Critique.Andrew Huddleston - forthcoming - In Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer & Maxim Pensky (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Adorno.
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  11. Theodor W. Adorno. Aesthetic Theory.S. Martin - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  12. JM Bernstein, Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics.A. Morgan - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  13. Theodor W. Adorno, Hegel: Three Studies.P. Osborne - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  14. On How to Make Adorno Scream: John Holloway's Concept of Revolution Against Class and Identity'.Marcel Stoetzler - forthcoming - Historical Materialism.
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  15. Brian O'Connor. Adorno's Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of a Critical Rationality. MIT Press 2004.Margherita Tonon - forthcoming - Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society.
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  16. Neurath’s Debate with Horkheimer and the Critique of Verstehen.Andreas Vrahimis - forthcoming - In Adam Tamas Tuboly & Akos Sivado (eds.), The History of Understanding in Analytic Philosophy: Before and After Logical Empiricism. London: Bloomsbury.
    During the late 1930s, the failed attempt at collaboration between the Frankfurt School and the Vienna Circle culminated in Horkheimer’s 1937 paper ‘The Latest Attack on Metaphysics’. Horkheimer ([1937] 1972), relying on a caricature of positivism as espousing an uncritical myth of the given, drew far-reaching conclusions concerning positivism’s conservative prohibition of the radical questioning of appearances. Horkheimer (1940) later applied some of these criticisms to Dilthey’s conception of Verstehen, while presenting Logical Empiricism as dismissing Dilthey’s proposals nothing more than (...)
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  17. Theodor W. Adorno, Beethoven: The Philosophy of Muxic.B. Watson - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  18. Thinking About Thinking in Adorno’s Minima Moralia.Richard White - forthcoming - Tandf: The European Legacy:1-16.
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  19. Thinking About Thinking in Adorno’s Minima Moralia.Richard White - forthcoming - The European Legacy:1-16.
    This article looks at several sections of Minima Moralia where Adorno talks explicitly about the need for genuine thinking and what that might consist in. First, I argue that Hegel and Nietzsche ar...
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  20. Theodor W. Adorno.L. Zuidevaart - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  21. Peter Schmitt, Medienkritik Zwischen Anthropologie Und Gesellschaftstheorie. Zur Aktualitat von Gunther Anders Und Theodor W. Adorno.Christian Ferencz-Flatz - 2021 - Studia Phaenomenologica 21:407-410.
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  22. Materiality and Sublimation in Dan Flavin's Luminous Minimalism.Vangelis Giannakakis - 2021 - Zeitschrift für Ästhetik Und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft (Special issue / Sonderheft 19):313-330.
    Modern aesthetic Minimalism is neither a flight to abstract spirituality, nor an extracting process of a primordial essence. It is concerned, rather, with the aesthetic object as pure refiguration and the production of “concrete universality”, of form as content and possibility of itself. This becomes especially apparent in the Minimalism of the 1960s. The main focus of this paper will be on Dan Flavin’s luminous minimalism. The latter is characterised by a style that, though simple in appearance, introduced a higher (...)
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  23. Castration Anxiety, COVID-19 and the Extremist Right.Claudia Leeb - 2021 - Global Discourse 3 (11):387-403.
    In this article, I draw on Theodor W. Adorno’s works on (neo-)fascism and psychoanalytic theory to outline the threat of castration in contemporary capitalist societies on economic, interpersonal, and bodily levels. I then explain how the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened people’s castration anxieties on all three levels in a class- and gender-specific way. Finally, I expose how the right extremist president of the United States, Donald Trump, and the right extremist leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, Norbert Hofer, utilized castration (...)
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  24. Adorno and Freud Meet Kazuo Ishiguro: The Rise of the Far Right From a Psychoanalytic and Critical Theory Perspective.Claudia Leeb - 2021 - In Jeremiah Morelock (ed.), How to Critique Authoritarian Populism: Methodologies of the Frankfurt School. Leiden, Netherlands: pp. 200-219.
    In this chapter, I analyze Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day to outline the interaction of socio-economic and psychological factors in today's rise of the global far and extremist right. The ego-ideal refers to the ideal view of ourselves and what we aspire to achieve and is generated through societal standards. The main character, Mr. Stevens, who works as a butler for Lord Darlington in England during World War II, replaces his ego-ideal with his employer to view himself as (...)
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  25. Critical Theory Vs Philosophical Anthropology on Radio and TV: Some Remarks on Adorno and Gehlen.Stefano Marino - 2021 - Studi di Estetica 19.
    The relation between critical theory of society and philosophical anthropology is a very interesting and exciting but also problematic one. On the one hand, since Hork- heimer’s seminal essay Remarks on Philosophical Anthropology critical theorists have always expressed a clear distaste for anthropological speculation. On the other hand, notwithstanding Adorno’s aim in Negative Dialectics to “vetoe any anthropol- ogy” and criticize “the question of man [as] ideological”, he frequently mentioned the project of a “negative anthropology” or “dialectical anthropology” as an (...)
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  26. Interpret suffering. Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and the question of truth.María Rita Moreno - 2021 - Revista de Humanidades de Valparaíso 17:251-269.
    This article postulates that the criticality of epistemology elaborated by Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno is based not so much on the reformulation of a philosophical praxis against modern reason, but mainly on the metamorphosis of the concept of truth. Specifically, it is affirmed that the critique of modern reason carried out by both thinkers is associated with the determination of the temporal nucleus of truth as negativity and mourning. In the context of a rational crisis, Benjamin and Adorno (...)
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  27. Adorno's Critical Moral Philosophy and Business Ethics.Jaakko Nevasto - 2021 - Business Ethics Journal Review 9(7): 40–46.
    Reeves and Sinnicks present Theodor Adorno as a philosopher with a sombre message to business ethics. Capitalist markets distort our needs and work in business organisations stultifies our moral capacities. Thus, the discipline’s self-understanding must be revised, and supplemented with reflections on what would be good work: free creative activity. After raising some questions about their interpretation of Adorno’s writings on human needs, I argue that the paper does not contain all the necessary resources to support its ferociously critical claims. (...)
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  28. Adorno’s Critical Moral Philosophy and Business Ethics.Jaakko Nevasto - 2021 - Business Ethics Journal Review 9 (7):40-46.
    Reeves and Sinnicks present Theodor Adorno as a philosopher with a sombre message to business ethics. Capitalist markets distort our needs and work in business organisations stultifies our moral capacities. Thus, the discipline's self-understanding must be revised, and supplemented with reflections on what would be good work: free creative activity. After raising some questions about their interpretation of Adorno's writings on human needs, I argue that the paper does not contain all the necessary resources to support its ferociously critical claims. (...)
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  29. Business Ethics From the Standpoint of Redemption: Adorno on the Possibility of Good Work.Craig Reeves & Matthew Sinnicks - 2021 - Business Ethics Quarterly 31 (4):500-523.
    Given his view that the modern world is ‘radically evil’, Adorno is an unlikely contributor to business ethics. Despite this, we argue that his work has a number of provocative implications for the field that warrant wider attention. Adorno regards our social world as damaged, unfree, and false and we draw on this critique to outline why the achievement of good work is so rare in contemporary society, focusing in particular on the ethical demands of roles and the ideological nature (...)
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  30. The Sociologist of Knowledge in the Positivism Dispute.Iaan Reynolds - 2021 - Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory 2021.
    This paper studies the conflict between critical rationalism and critical theory in Karl Popper and Theodor Adorno’s 1961 debate by analyzing their shared rejection of Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge. Despite the divergences in their respective projects of critical social research, Popper and Adorno agree that Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge is uncritical. By investigating their respective assessments of this research program I reveal a deeper similarity between critical rationalism and critical theory. Though both agree on the importance of critique, they (...)
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  31. De ninguém a outrem: dialética e mimese, judaísmo e humanismo a partir de Blanchot e Adorno.João Wilson Sobral Santos - 2021 - Griot : Revista de Filosofia 21 (3):15-34.
    This article aims to bring together the thoughts of Theodor Adorno and Maurice Blanchot around the problem of humanism. The “jewish question”, as we can still call it along with Marx, is the central issue of this conversation. Starting from Blanchot’s intuition regarding the indestructibility of man and the role of judaism in revealing an exorbitant relation between men in the presence of Autrui, the article follows examining the seemingly opposite role of judaism in Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s dialectic of enlightenment. (...)
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  32. Changing the Subject: Philosophy From Socrates to Adorno, by Raymond Geuss. [REVIEW]Tricia Van Dyk - 2021 - Teaching Philosophy 44 (4):575-579.
  33. Theodor W. Adorno (2019), Aspecten van het nieuwe rechts-radicalisme. Een voordracht.Leen Verheyen - 2021 - Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 113 (2):325-326.
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  34. Theodor W. Adorno, Ernst Krenek, Briefwechsel 1929-1964 a cura di C. Maurer Zenck, Berlino, Suhrkamp, 2020, pp. 484.Elettra Villani - 2021 - Studi di Estetica 19.
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  35. A sereia e o desavisado: Ideologia Francesa, crítica dialética e a “matéria brasileira”.Raphael F. Alvarenga - 2020 - Sinal de Menos 14:228-62.
    Since the 1980s, there have been many attempts to bring together Critical Theory of Frankfurtian strain and French theories generally referred to as poststructuralist. The present text seeks to readdress the problem of their tricky articulation by taking a look at some vicissitudes those two currents of thought underwent in Brazil. In addition to the risk – embedded in the Parisian passion for dissolution – of positivizing atrocious aspects of Brazilian society related to the country’s multi-secular informality and backwardness, what (...)
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  36. Class Consciousness and Political Agency: A Conceptual Reconstruction for the Twenty-First Century.Benjamin E. Curtis - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Memphis
    This dissertation aims to analyze, clarify, and reconstruct the concept of class consciousness by developing a dialectical account of political agency at work in the concept. I defend a dialectical account of agency, that includes both the way in which individuals come together to form groups, but also the capacity of a collective to transform social conditions. I argue that this account of political agency is necessary in order to understand the possibility of social transformation or change. I trace the (...)
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  37. Does Kierkegaard’s Rewritten Parable of the Good Samaritan Leave the World to the Devil? Kierkegaard and Adorno on What It Means to Love One’s Neighbor in the Modern World.Iben Damgaard - 2020 - Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 25 (1):221-240.
    This article critically examines and discusses the charge, raised by Adorno in his essay on Works of Love, that Kierkegaard’s rewriting of the Gospel story of the good Samaritan reduces neighbor love to abstract inwardness. It has been somewhat ignored in the reception of Adorno’s text that he also praises Kierkegaard as a critic of his time. I explore Adorno’s appreciation of this dimension in Works of Love and seek to develop it further by examining Kierkegaard’s sharp eye for discovering (...)
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  38. Negative Freedom or Integrated Domination? Adorno Versus Honneth.Naveh Frumer - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (1):126-141.
    European Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  39. Neoliberalism and Culture in Higher Education: On the Loss of the Humanistic Character of the University and the Possibility of Its Reconstitution.Vangelis Giannakakis - 2020 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 39 (4):365-382.
    This paper examines the loss of culture as a possible effect of the neoliberalisation of education, especially higher education. The paper opens with a brief comparison between the humanistic education founded on the idea of culture and its modern-day neoliberal form, with the help of José Ortega y Gasset’s reflections on the mission of higher education. It then discusses certain aspects of the historical development of libraries and of the figure of the public intellectual with a view to bringing into (...)
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  40. The Right Extremist Identitarian Movement in Europe: A Critical Theory Analysis.Claudia Leeb - 2020 - Azimuth: An International Journal of Philosophy 16 (8):71-88.
    In this article, I expose the psychologically oriented techniques a core leader of the right extremist Identitarian Movement in the German-speaking context, Martin Sellner, uses to capture new followers. I show that such techniques offer the prospective followers irrational gratifications and release their feelings of failure and frustration of not living up to capitalist and patriarchal values, thereby distracting them from the Identitarian Movement's destructive aims. I also engage with Theodor W. Adorno's psychoanalytically inspired writings on fascist agitators and their (...)
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  41. Claudia Leeb’s The Politics of Repressed Guilt: The Tragedy of Austrian Silence with David W. McIvor, Lars Rensmann, and Claudia Leeb.Claudia Leeb, David W. McIvor & Lars Rensmann - 2020 - Critical Horizons 21 (1):63-79.
    In this article, I respond to David McIvor’s and Lars Rensmann’s discussion of my recent book, The Politics of Repressed Guilt: The Tragedy of Austrian Silence (2018, Edinburgh University Press). Both invited me to clarify my use of Arendt in my conception of embodied reflective judgment. I argue for a stronger connection between judgment and emotions than Arendt because one can effectively shut down critical thinking if one uses defense mechanisms to repress feelings of guilt. In response to McIvor, I (...)
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  42. The Doctor Faustus Dossier: Arnold Schoenberg, Thomas Mann, and Their Contemporaries, 1930‐1951, Edited by E. Randol Schoenberg. Pp. XX, 349, Oakland, Ca, University of California Press, 2018, $28.46. [REVIEW]Patrick Madigan - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (3):579-580.
  43. Levinas, Adorno, and the Ethics of the Material Other.Eric Sean Nelson - 2020 - Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press.
    Summary A provocative examination of the consequences of Levinas’s and Adorno’s thought for contemporary ethics and political philosophy. This book sets up a dialogue between Emmanuel Levinas and Theodor W. Adorno, using their thought to address contemporary environmental and social-political situations. Eric S. Nelson explores the “non-identity thinking” of Adorno and the “ethics of the Other” of Levinas with regard to three areas of concern: the ethical position of nature and “inhuman” material others such as environments and animals; the bonds (...)
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  44. Max Weber e Adorno sobre o conceito de progresso: Contrastes da racionalização técnica na música e na pintura / Max Weber and Adorno on the concept of progress: contrasts of technical rationalization in music and painting.Luis Felipe de Salles Roselino - 2020 - Trans/Form/Ação 43 (2020):317-340.
    This review will develop a theme from the theoretical contrast between Max Weber and Adorno approach of the concept of “progress”, read by their discussions on, respectively, “The Meaning of Wertfreiheit in Sociology and Economics” (1917) and “Fortschritt”, (Progress, 1962). After establishing a comparison between both writings and their theoretical tools, we shall identify the differences in resources by the critical and traditional theory elements. The opposition shall become more distinctly as the comparison reach the historical examples from their readings (...)
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  45. Scientism, Social Praxis, and Overcoming Metaphysics: A Debate Between Logical Empiricism and the Frankfurt School.Andreas Vrahimis - 2020 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 10 (2):562–597.
    During the 1930s, while both movements were fleeing from persecution by the Nazis, the Vienna Circle and the Frankfurt School planned to collaborate. The plan failed, and in its stead Horkheimer published a critique of the Vienna Circle in “The Latest Attack on Metaphysics” (written in collaboration with Adorno, though he is not credited as an author). This paper will analyse Horkheimer’s (and Adorno’s) article, and the ensuing dialogue with Neurath. The Frankfurt School’s critical stance towards the Vienna Circle can (...)
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  46. Adorno, Badiou and the Politics of Breaking Out.Vangelis Giannakakis - 2019 - Theory and Event 22 (1):18-43.
    The present state of late capitalist society is, mutatis mutandis, eerily reminiscent of that criticized by Theodor W. Adorno more than half a century ago. Indeed, it was against this cultural, social and political backdrop that Adorno invited his students to stay confident in the prospects of a breakout [Ausbruch]. In this spirit, this paper looks into Adorno's notion of "breakout" and studies its relation to Badiou's theory of the event in an attempt to show that alternatives are still possible (...)
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  47. The Relevance of the Theory of Pseudo-Culture.Vangelis Giannakakis - 2019 - Continental Philosophy Review 52 (3):311-325.
    Some 60 years separate us from Theodor W. Adorno’s “Theory of pseudo-culture.” Yet Adorno’s analysis might never have been as pertinent and as compelling as it is in the present moment. The dawn of the “post-truth” era, and the persistent impact of the culture industry on human sensibility and capacity for critical self-reflection, call for a return to Adorno’s critical theorisation of pseudo-culture. This paper revisits Adorno’s assessment of pseudo-culture and proposes a reconstruction of some of his most compelling arguments (...)
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  48. Eric Oberle Theodor Adorno and the Century of Negative Identity. [REVIEW]Philip Højme - 2019 - Marx and Philosophy Review of Books.
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  49. Whose Survival? A Critical Engagement with the Notion of Existential Risk.Philip Højme - 2019 - Scientia et Fides 7 (2):63-76.
    This paper provides a critique of Bostrom’s concern with existential risks, a critique which relies on Adorno and Horkheimer’s interpretation of the Enlightenment. Their interpretation is used to elicit the inner contradictions of transhumanist thought and to show the invalid premises on which it is based. By first outlining Bostrom’s position this paper argues that transhumanism reverts to myth in its attempt to surpass the human condition. Bostrom’s argument is based on three pillars, Maxipok, Parfitian population ethics and a universal (...)
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  50. Adorno on Hope.Timo Jütten - 2019 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 45 (3):284-306.
    I argue that Theodor W. Adorno’s philosophy articulates a radical conception of hope. According to Lear, radical hope is ‘directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is’. Given Adorno’s claim that the current world is radically evil, and that we cannot know or even imagine what the good is, it is plausible that his conception of hope must be radical in this sense. I develop this argument through an analysis of Adorno’s engagement with (...)
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