Adorno, Hegel, and Dialectic

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (6):1118-1141 (2014)
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This article explores critical theory's relations to German idealism by clarifying how Adorno's thought relates to Hegel's. Adorno's apparently mixed responses to Hegel centre on the dialectic and actually form a coherent whole. In his Logic, Hegel outlines the dialectical process by which categories – fundamental forms of thought and reality – necessarily follow one another in three stages: abstraction, dialectic proper, and the speculative . Adorno's allegiance to Hegel's dialectic emerges when he traces the dialectical process whereby enlightenment reverts to myth and human domination over nature reverts into our domination by nature. However, Adorno criticizes Hegel's dialectic as the ultimate form of ‘identity thinking’, subsuming unique, material objects under universal concepts by using dialectical reason to expand those concepts to cover objects utterly. These two responses cohere because Adorno shares Hegel's view that dialectical contradict..

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Alison Stone
Lancaster University