By Alex Thomson
Some of the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20 th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can frequently look vague and impenetrable, quite for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A advisor for the puzzled is a fascinating and obtainable account of his suggestion that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and people who have struggled to make headway together with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: essentially written, accomplished and particularly concerned about simply what makes Adorno tough to learn and comprehend.
“'Alex Thompson's booklet not just illuminates Adorno's most vital principles, it makes an unique contribution to modern social theory... The booklet could be of significant clarificatory use for undergraduates, and may offer a lot stimulus to postgraduates and teachers as well.' Darrow Schecter, college of Sussex”
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Additional info for Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say 'notorious', since for the most part Adorno's name is simply used as shorthand for an elitist contempt for mass culture with which 'we' are assumed to have little in common. Part of my aim in this chapter is to demonstrate that this conclusion is unjust. Indeed, Adorno deserves more credit for the fact that he always saw the whole of society as worthy of the careful historical and aesthetic scrutiny he saw as the task of philosophy, without deciding as to the significance of any of its aspects in advance: it is a short step from his proclamation that 'the matters of true philosophical interest at this point in history' are 'nonconceptuality, individuality and particularity - things which ever since Plato used to be dismissed as transitory and insignificant' (ND 8) to taking seriously the most ephemeral and supposedly worthless elements of social life.
Heard in the light of subsequent and more radical experiments in the use of noise, repetition and chance in composition, it can be difficult, looking back, to see what all the fuss was about Schoenberg's work. Equally, Adorno's work can look as if it remains too indebted to the tradition which it seeks to put into question to constitute a sufficient break with it. As we will see, this is because Adorno senses that the simple rejection of the claims made on behalf of art, as with other supposedly radical revisions of the concept of culture, are neither particularly interesting nor politically and socially progressive.
Even if that were true, the response in his homeland suggests that it can by no means be a sufficient one. Subsequent developments in European and American thought and society continue to show Adorno's work in an awkward light. 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.
Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) by Alex Thomson
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