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

By Alex Thomson

The most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20 th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can usually appear imprecise and impenetrable, fairly for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A consultant for the confused is an interesting and obtainable account of his inspiration that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and people who have struggled to make headway along with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: basically written, complete and particularly considering simply what makes Adorno tricky to learn and comprehend.

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“'Alex Thompson's ebook not just illuminates Adorno's most crucial rules, it makes an unique contribution to modern social theory... The booklet might be of serious clarificatory use for undergraduates, and should offer a lot stimulus to postgraduates and lecturers as well.' Darrow Schecter, college of Sussex”

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Additional info for Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)

Sample text

E. his interest in the extent to which reality resists being understood or appropriated by conceptual thought, and his critique of the priority of the subject, prefigure similar concerns in the work of a younger generation of French thinkers, such as Derrida and Foucault, whose major works were beginning to be published in the last years of Adorno's life. But since these concerns are rooted in a common inheritance from earlier philosophies, as recent studies of German Idealism and early Romantic philosophy have shown, these connections are not a question of direct inspiration.

Adorno followed Horkheimer to Los Angeles in 1941 although characteristically, he was reluctant to leave his new home in New York - and their close collaboration was productive. He was also writing with a former associate of the Schoenberg circle in Vienna, Hans Eisler, who had moved towards a more directly politicized music under the influence of Brecht (Composing for the Films was published, but only under Eisler's name, in 1947); and he was famously consulted by the novelist Thomas Mann, who was working on his own music book, Dr Faustus, and in which lengthy extracts from Adorno's manuscripts on music are reproduced verbatim.

Where class distinction in Germany has been determined 'by whether or not [a man] accepted money', and the receipt of a gift of money prompted shame in the child of a bourgeois family, in America no such reticence exists: 'no child of even well-off parents has inhibitions about earning a few cents by newspaper rounds'. The difference is between a society in which there remain class distinctions, and one in which the supremacy of bourgeois values is total. But Adorno presents this in deeply ambiguous terms - it is a triumph of equality, but it is also the triumph of the principle of the mere equivalence of all things, including people: The self-evidence of the maxim that work is no disgrace, the guileless absence of all snobbery concerning the ignominy, in the feudal sense, of market relationships, the democracy of the earningprinciple, contribute to the persistence of what is utterly antidemocratic, economic injustice, human degradation.

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