Philosophy and Social Criticism 43 (6):571-598 (2017)

Jürgen Habermas’ characterization of Adorno’s project as an aestheticization of philosophy continues to influence our reading of his work. In contradiction to Lambert Zuidervaart, who suggests that in order to be understood as politically relevant, Adorno’s philosophy must be supplemented with empirical research, I argue in this article that Adorno’s work contains many of the resources we would need to theorize an ethical politics. First, it both identifies the moral debt carried by the subject and addresses the need for social transformation in order to change this situation. Second, it proposes an ethical comportment of self-relinquishment as a first step towards this reorganization of the social. The self-relinquishment of philosophy to its object is modeled upon aesthetic experience, which, according to Adorno, we must regard as a remorseful atonement for the subject’s domination of the object in its attempt to ‘wrest itself free’ of undifferentiated being. By incorporating into philosophical thought the mimetic bodily impulses tamed by aesthetic form, we may engender within ourselves a solidarity with objectivity. Rather than the self-possessing and conservative subject that constitutes its world mentally, Adorno theorizes a subject for whom thinking is a temporalization or a becoming. Thinking produces otherness within the subject itself. In this thinking-as-becoming, we see the beginnings of a highly individuated political subjectivity capable of acting in solidarity with the other. This brings us to the third element within Adorno’s philosophy that can serve us in formulating an ethical politics: the non-violent organizational principle of the modern work of art. In mobilizing the logic of the modern work of art, the autonomous individual is empowered to forge a politics that preserves contradiction in the facilitation of a non-violent relation with others.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453716631166
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References found in this work BETA

Negative Dialectics.Raymond Geuss - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (6):167-175.
Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics.J. M. Bernstein - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

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