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Adorno

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 7 months ago

Possible texts:

 

Notes to Literature (vol. 1) - Received from Prospector

Notes to Literature (vol. 2) - Received from Prospector

Prisms - Received from (HM101 .A4513 1983)

Problems of Moral Philosophy - Received from Prospector

Can One Live After Auschwitz? - Received from Prospector

 

About Adorno:

 

Susan Gubar - Poetry After Auschwitz: Remembering What One Never Knew - (IN... PS153.J4 G78 2003)

 

  • Definitions:
    • reification - "the perception of what is qualitative as quantitative" (Adorno Reader, 13).

 

  • From Can One Live After Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader (Adorno, ed. Rolf Tiedemann)
Introduction (Rolf Tiedemann)Reread me!
"The Meaning of Working Through the Past" (1960)Here, Adorno makes the distinction between working through the past and working upon it. The term "working through" is not the psychological "I am working through my fears" but an everday "I am working through this thesis so that I can graduate" (4 and footnote). The difference is that something we work through can be finished and then (at least potentially) forgotten. Adorno claims that contemporary Germany (at least contemporary for this piece) is trying to work through the past, and working through the past is appropriate only for the victims of the past (4). The German urge to work through the past is partly good in the sense that the violence/guilt of/from the past leads to violence/guilt in/from the present (think: the conflice between Palastine and Israel as an endless cycle of violence rooted partly in an unwillingness to give up the past), but it is partly bad because it treats the entire situation of Nazi Germany (and the Shoah), and all of its roots, as past, when - according to Adorno - National Socialism and its roots still exist even within democracy (4). This topic drives most of Adorno's speech-turned-paper. Adorno argues, through several societal structures (including the guilt of being a German), that the roots of National Socialism still exist, and so - even as Germans claim (can this be generalized to all people?) to be working through what happened, they are opening up the possibility that it happen again. Guilt, Adorno argues, is irrational in the sense that it has no relation to present external circumstances (as opposed to, say, stress or happiness), yet it has been made rational because it is the fashionable feeling of the moment, such that being guilty can become an automatic, unthoughtful response. When the topic of the Shoah comes around, I feel guilty, and then - afterwards - continue with my life (6). This lack of reflection turns out to be precisely at the root of the problem - a lack of reflection is the root of fascism (think: Hannah Arendt and the banality of evil). Even as democracy is making progress in Germany, and is succeeding, it has not quelled the German approach to themselves as "subjects of the political process" (7). Democracy here is not representative of a belief system but an imposed political system that has its benefits and drawbacks. In other words, Germans (in this sense) view themselves as part of a political system rather than vice versa (that the political system is defined by its people). More, this view is self-concious in German ideology (7), so it makes people think of themselves as powerless because they blame everything on their own political immaturity rather than on alterable external circumstances (maybe... education?). More generally, "the people's alienation from democracy reflects the self-alienation of society" (8) - in other words, the individual no longer considerers herself a part of or responsible for her society. Or, in other words still, people feel powerless against the political machine, so they do not try to change anything. Thus, the view that Hitler was correct in his attempt to unify Europe against the threat of Communism is a view that forgets that the Communism we see today is a result of its interactions with the totalitarianism in Germany (and also that the German Nazis were an equal threat to freedom as were the Russian communists). It places guilt on an entire political system (democracy) because of external, circumstancial events rather than noticing the similarities of the circumstances that led to both Nazism and Communism. What led to both is, in fact, this view, which leads people to identify themselves with an ideology without first looking at its contents (9). Hitler fostered this view with national narcissism, and - although the narcissism was hurt by the Nazi regime's fall, it is by no means gone (10-1). (In fact, we see it in full force in the United States.) This national narcissism is problematic for several reasons, a) it fosters the above view (people support a nation regardless of what that nation is doing), b) it rests on an obsolete notion of "nation" (nations historically existed apart from each other (Adorno uses the example of tribes), but as the world becomes more global, what makes a nation "a nation" no longer exists), and c) it concentrates on a binary of us and them (see: Hitler's attack on anything different). (All from page 12.) Thus, we see that the potential for National Socialism still exists - people view themselves as impotent next to a national government that they support regardless of what it does.

Adorno claims that he has exaggerated (though justifiably) and that democracy in Germany is improving, but - he claims - improvement is only good enough in an isolated world. The battles against atrocities and catastrophes are always around, and Germany has still failed to work through its past and its totalitarianism. He cites parents who, embarrassed by questions from their children about Nazism, try to make it sound better (to justify their involvement in it?, 14). He, therefore, turns to social education, claiming that - although education might only appeal to those who are open to it and thus not prone to Fascism - the educated will form small groups (Adorno uses a military term: "cadres") to affect the underlying opinion (15). He avoids answering the question of "how far it is advisable to go into the past when attempting to raise public awareness, and whether precisely the insistence on it does not provoke a defiant resistance and produce the opposite of what it intends" (15). But, he does argue that making people aware could never be as bad as leaving them unaware (!!!), such that questions about how to best do social education (what he calls "re-education") becomes more important than questions about Being (snap!). This move will be opposed by anti-Semites because it involves self-reflection, whereas anti-Semitism rests on unresponsiveness (15-6). Even if an anti-Semite meets Jews (or learns about their plight), her unresponsiveness, her unwillingness to think about what she believes will leave her an anti-Semite still. Adorno's example is of a woman who, when watching a dramatization of The Diary of Anne Frank said, "Yes, but that girl at least should have been allowed to live" (16). (The play, notes Adorno, is an improvement (it increases awareness), but it does not itself solve the problem of anti-Semitism, and it is also "repugnant...and...seem[s] to be a profanation of the dignity of the dead" (16).) Anti-Semitism has, in fact, nothing to do with Jews. It is only a form of the above nationalistic, un-self-critical views (an attack against something different) and is a necessary element in such views (that there be something different to attack). Thus, it does not make sense to combat anti-Semitism by facts about the Jews. Anti-semites "should be made aware of the mechanisms that cause racial prejudice within them" and also "the knowledge of the few durable propaganda tricks that are attuned exactly to those psychological dispositions we must assume are present in human beings" (17). Yet, even this social education (leading to social enlightenment) is not enough. If fascism begins to appeal once more to people (is linked up to their interests), they must be shown that it does not in fact link up with their interests. That it leads to "war, suffering, and privation under a coercive system, and, in the end, probably the Russian domination of Europe" (17). This argument is much more appealing than an appeal to the suffering of others, which we stop thinking about relatively quickly (18). In the end, the only way to work through the past is to remove the roots of it, and thus - because these roots still remain - the past remains captivating.

"Education After Auschwitz" (1967)There are a few parts of this essay that, at the moment, I think worth mentioning in regards to my thesis. 1) The first few sentences make clear Adorno's categorical imperative (at least in 1961): "The premier demand upon all education is that Auschwitz not happen again. Its priority before any other requirement is such that I believe I need not and should not justify it...To justify it would be monstrous in the face of the monstrosity that took place" (19, Notice: it is the premier demand, and Adorno should not justify his claim. What would make his justification monstrous?). A little bit later down: "[Aushwitz] was the barbarism all education strives against...and barbarism continues as long as the fundamental conditions that favored that relapse [into barbarism] continue largely unchanged. That is the whole horror. The societal pressure still bears down, although the danger remains invisible nowadays" (19). Invisibility is a huge problem for Adorno - remember, in "Cultural Criticism and Society," that the unfreedom imposed by society is all the more dangerous because we think that we are free. Yet, his attitude towards invisibility further complicates his claim about justification above. Why would justification, which strives to make something explicit (and thus necessarily not invisible), be monstrous (which - I assume - is a term similar to "barbaric," though probably not identical... how is it different?)? Returning to the quote, the important point here is that Adorno's dilemma, his whole "horror" at this point, is that the societal preconditions for Auschwitz still exist, whereas our categorical imperative is that Auschwitz not happen again. Logically, then, the society preconditions need to be changed. This point becomes problematic when Adorno admits that we do not have much power to change societal conditions (20). This explains his concentration on education, which is a way of changing the subjects in a society (and thus, eventually, the society) without going beyond our limits in such an overwhelming society. Thus, education for him takes two forms: "first, children's education...then, general enlightenment, which provides an intellectual cultural, and social climate in which a recurrence would no longer be possible, a climate, therefore, in which the motives that led to the horror would become relatively conscious" (22). It is noteworthy, first, that the temporal aspect of this sentence ("first...then" -- is this the same in the German?), which suggests (though subtely) that the latter general enlightenment is only possible when the members of a society have been educated - from early on - regarding the motives behind Auschwitz. Here is the second interesting point; for Adorno, the power of education is that it makes things explicit/conscious (hence again, the question of justification above), which we see again on page 23: "The single genuine power standing against the principle of Aushwitz is autonomy...the power of reflection, of self-determination, of not cooperating." In other words, the reason that Adorno writes a piece about education, the reason that education is important in the first place, is that it makes us think, realize that societal conditions are pushing us in a direction that we - as human beings - should not go. This is the main push of Adorno's paper: educate people so that they reflect on their position, because - as soon as they reflect - they are less likely to be complicit to atrocities like Auschwitz. (Note: this is a similar push as we found in "Cultural Criticism and Society," but different in the where Adorno perceives we have the power to prevent Auschwitz. In "Cultural Criticism and Society," culture and cultural criticism have the power to alter society - by refusing to be reified even as society is reifying - which is what makes their complicity with society all the more horrible. Here, Adorno does not believe that we can directly alter society, so his approach is more personal. Does this move make sense? Why would Adorno make it? (These questions become intersting with the next paragraph.)

The second relevant point in regards to my thesis is a bit of a thorn. Adorno claims that, "one of the most important goals of education is the debarbarization of the countryside" (24). He makes this point based on evidence that most of the tormenters in the concentration camps were from the countryside, which leads him to the conclusion that barbarism - because "probably debarbarism has been less successful in the open country than anyplace else" (24) - is one of conditions for Auschwitz and thus that culture, the thesis to barbarism's antithesis, is a major good standing in the way of Auschwitz. (We see this made more explicit in the last sentence of this paragraph: "one must also consider the impact of modern mass media on a stage of consciousness that has not yet come anywhere close to the state of bourgeois liberal culture of the nineteenth century" (24), where 'the bourgeois liberal culture' is then the opposide of the barbaracy of the countryside, that is, the direction that rural people need to go.) What a far cry from "Cultural Criticism and Society," where nineteenth century bourgeois culture is complicit, is - by being objectified - failing to take us away from Auschwitz, is leading us towards it, has itself become barbaric. What would prompt this change from Adorno? Is there a way of reconciling these two positions? If not, how can I - in my thesis - account for this change? I can always claims, "I am interested in the imperative set forth in 'Cultural Criticism and Society,' and although Adorno later rethinks his position on culture, it is the position in this essay only that interests me." But, that is sidestepping an important issue for thinking about Adorno, what pushes him to make the claims he makes. It is also an issue that will likely shed light on Adorno's claim in Negative Dialectics that he might have been wrong to claim that poetry after Auschwitz is impossible - especially because he goes on to make, as he puts it, a "less cultural" claim about living in general, which is a personal shift, just as the shift to education is a personal shift. So, these questions remain open: what prompted this shift? Is it a logical shift to make, a necessary shift if we follow Adorno's method?

(One final interesting quote, regarding love as a potential for the opposite of the technological coldness of our society (but one that cannot be forced, because forced love is still cold): "Love is something immediate and in essence condtradicts mediated relationships" (31). This isn't really relevant to my thesis, at least not as far as I can see right now, but it sheds some light on Adorno. He is not a post-modernist; he believes that there is something we can experience unmediated. Lacan would be very unhappy with Adorno right now.)

"Reflections on Class Theory" (1942)The main push of this essay is that class theory is failing. We (Western society) talk now as if there is no such thing as class, that we are all equal in certain senses, and that any other sense of equality is idealistic and thus not worth thinking about. This way of talking, according to Adorno, lets a class-based society perpetuate, and is (in fact) an essential force for the perpetuation of class-based society because it keeps the proletarians from realizing their plight. Our society, with its capitalist freedom (we might think today about the "free trade" movement), is not class-less, but has made its class distinctions implicit. Instead of talking about people inherently worse than others, free capitalism claims that every person (or organization) is inherently equal, and implies that any failure (or success), then, is the product of the work of the individual (or organization). Such an implication obviously ignores that free capitalism in fact allows the rich to get more rich (because they can use their money to perpetuate itself, in the same way that the society itself perpetuates itself), while the poor do not have the resources to make money. The "equality" in free capitalism is only an equality of goals - that everyone desires something similar - and twisting it into a claim about equality keeps the people at the bottom, the poor, oblivious to the fact that they share a plight brought on by the system, which thus keeps them from organizing and revolting as Marx's class theory claimed that they would.

This essay relates to my thesis insofar as it explores what makes a reifying society and how such a society perpetuates itself. It might not makes it way into my thesis itself, but it would be wise to pay attention to the last page in particular (and the last section more generally), where Adorno uses the term "reification" explicitly and gives a summary of his argument. Notice also the place of dehumanization in his theory, which is a broader form of reification. Dehumanization is a lack of individuality, most prevelent in the lower class, that results from a society that treats everyone as entirely equal and puts people into work that they understand (such that they identify with it) but is still mass-production (such that they identify with being a part).

Questions: What is prehistory? What is dehumanization, exactly? How does culture fit into this paper? (Notice on 109: "This process of leveling, civilizing, and slotting-in consumes all energy that might be used to do things differently, to the point where a conditioned universal humanity gives birth to the barbarism that in fact it is," which links civilizing people with making them equal and thus with dehumanization.)

"Progress" (1964)Adorno's project in this essay is to examine what we mean (and have meant) by "progress" and how the concept fits into our social world. The present way of asking about the possibility of progress is "whether humanity is capable of preventing catastrophe," that is, whether a society can exist that allows for freedom under limits (so that others can live in freedom as well), or in Kant's terms, a "just civil society" (127). This concept of progress as involving all humans is problematic insofar as it assumes that humans are somehow united to begin with, where one might argue (Adorno here cites Benjamin) that progress is the creation of humanity, of combining freedom (and thus particularity) with being united. Further, necessary to the concept of totality is an antagonism to what is not included (what is not human, in this case), which is also apparent in totalitarian systems, which lead us in the opposite direction of progress (implicitly in this essay, explicit elsewhere).

Until Hegel and Marx (starting, perhaps, with Augustine), progress was based on a vision of "history [as] salvation history" (129), that is, ultimate progress is salvation. In this concept, again, humanity is at the center of progress. Implicitly within this concept, though, is the necessity of secularization (made real partly by Kant), since redemption was not - in fact - immanent, and thus the only way to retain a similar concept of progress is to claim that people themselves are responsible for progressing (for reaching humanity). (More text follows, but I don't quite understand it or its relevance...) The contradiction here is that (in conventional thought) progress is important in two senses: societally and philosophically, the actual and the ideal. Without some sort of societal aspect, progress would be an abstraction, with no importance to the people to which it was supposed to speak. Without a philosophy, progress would be unable to criticize the society for which it is important to progress, and thus progress would be impossible. Thus, some form of redemption is necessary for this understanding of progress; it necessarily opposes itself to (some aspects of) human nature, and thus the goal of progress is to transcend nature. Implicit in this concept is oppression, since transcending nature is associated with identical reason (reason that is the same to all people) and thus antagonistic to those that are not identical - in this case, those that do not possess or use reason, namely those closest to the natural world. Thus, while the natural world (and human nature) not only fails to progress, but is in fact oppressed and antagonized, everything within it (technology, skills and knowledge?) progresses. (More confusion -- this is also, though potentially related to my thesis, not related enough to be worth the time of mucking through the dense language)

Another force in the concept of progress is the impossibility of progress. Adorno is radically opposed to this concept (we might see a correlation with his objection to the impossibility of saving ourselves from reification in "Cultural Criticism and Society"), and posits that reason itself, though one of the roots of domination against nature, has the power to abolish that domination (135). Related to the impossibility of progress is the claim that we should not strive for progress (because it is impossible). This claim has roots in the doctrine of original sin, "the idea that corruption of human nature legimiates domination, that radical evil legitimates evil" (137 - "radical evil" here is likely a reference to Kant's "radical evil" in Religion Within the Bounds of Mere Reason, which is the propensity to be evil. For Kant, innate in humans is an inclination to do evil things, and it is because of this inclination that we do not always follow the categorical imperative, that we do evil things in the first place, but it is our moral duty to work against radical evil by following the categorical imperative. Adorno, then, is claiming that people in this group are claiming that, because humans have an innate inclination towards evil, we should not strive against it - or, more likely, even if we strive against it, we should not be overly judgmental of ourselves or others when we fail). In response, Adorno claims that, although aspects of what people might call "progress" are ridiculous (our growingly technological world, for example, is also growingly capable of destroying itself with weapons), the present situation is one in which progress is possible (violence might disappear altogether -- Adorno does not defend this radical claim - 137 - but it makes sense given his conclusion that there are enough resources now to fulfill the needs of all people such that want is no longer a necessary condition of our world; see "Cultural Criticism and Society" as well as the beginning of this essay). Further, although catastrophes have happened in the contemporary world in many ways because of the way society has progressed, it is only through this progression that catastrophes can be prevented (Adorno's example is the Titanic, whose sinking allowed many sea voyages afterwards to succeed).

Another (related) force in the discussion about "progress" is that of interiorized progress (perhaps "personal progress" would be a more accurate term). This concept of progress is problematic, if it is the only aspect of progress, because it allows us not to strive to change the oppressive society in which we live. It is also based once again on Platonic transcendence (and, after Augustine, Christian salvation). Similar to external progress, there are those who argue that internal progress is impossible (and, then, because of this fact, that external progress is impossible). Adorno claims that (not surprisingly) that this conclusion is false (139). It is true, perhaps, that not all aspects of one's interior can be altered, but to deny that any can is incorrect. While the struggle against "the seamless totality of the world spirit" by existentialists is too idealistic and optimistic, "this totality itself is also a semblance" (139). This totality is made by humans and thus can be altered or abandoned by them. (The essay continues...)

"The Jargon of Authenticity" (1963)This essay is an argument against existentialist claims about authenticity. This authenticity is based on a religious belief in freedom and autonomy to ease their anguish that was made unreligious by Heidegger's authoritarian claims in Being and Time (163-4). (It is important that Adorno calls Heidegger authoritarian because, on the next page, he claims that "this language [of authenticity] shaped its ideas to fit an authoritarian potential even where it imagined itself to be resisting authoritarianism. Fascism was not simply the conspiracy that it was; it was also the manifestation of a powerful social trend" (165). Why would he make such a claim? He claims that the language of authenticity has a theological tinge that resembles Christianity, where Christianity relies upon an authority. Spend more time with the first paragraph on 165...) Adorno's issues with this jargon are a) the supposed authority of their Word (as if it comes from God - see 165-6), b) its vagueness, which allows it to be given any number of meanings (166), c) its self-advertisement, both by relying on emotion (167) and constant reusing of the jargon in everyday life (exisential security as lack of financial worries, for example - 167), which - in fact - contradicts the point of authenticity in the first place, since the language that was meant to be authentic has become (in Heidegger's terms) "idle talk," d) that it turns the positive into negative, thus giving people who feel doomed the impression that they are living authentic lives (think: Neitzsche's "resentement"), by (for example) exhorting anxiety, death, a lack of security, &c (169-171), e) that it muddles the difference between the sublime and the mundane, by using spiritual jargon to discuss its worldly component (172), f) that those who use it - because of all of the above - feel safe (173-4, read this again, since it makes two references to Auschwitz that I don't understand), g) that it blames Enlightenment questioning on a loss of meaning which has existed even during periods where authority was not questioned (174-5), h) that it claims that its descriptions of humanity are eternal, that humans necessarily suffer in the way it describes, whereas they have arisen by certain sociological phenomena and such a way of describing the world is dehumanizing (why? - see 174-180), i) that it levels everyone down by making their most important aspect that they are human (maybe why it is dehumanizing, see (h)), which reinforces (a) (since, by virtue of being human, the Authentics have authority), but is, finally, an entirely empty claim (179-81). In the end, Adorno claims, "The gestural language of the jargon lays down that suffering, evil, and death are to be accepted, not changed. The public is to be trainedi n a difficult balancing act: they must understand their nothingness as a form of Being; avoidable or at least corrigible need must be revered as the essence of humanity; and because of man's innate fallibility, he must learn to respect authority as such. Although authoirty no longer ventures to claim that it has been sent by God, it retains all the insignia at once borrowed from God the father. But because it no longer has any legitimation beyond its mere existence, blind and opaque, it becomes radically evil" (180-1).

 

  • From Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics (J.M. Bernstein)
IntroductionAdorno is building off of Nietzsche and, to a larger extent, Max Weber's reading of Nietzsche. Both of these thinkers claim that in our society there are two interconnected forces driving us away from individual, affected existence. Intellectualization is the force from science, which attempts to look at everything without reference to a viewer (a subject). It, in a sense, attempts to make all experience patterned and ordinary. Rationalization is the force from economics, which attempts to look at everybody as a commodety. It, in a sense, attempts to make all subjects into patterned and ordinary (predictable) objects. These two forces, by devalueing every end (for the scientists especially: God), end up even devalueing their own project. If everything is also a cause, then there is no reason to study science. To use a term from the text, we become "disenchanted" with everything. There is no reason to do anything. Morality too comes into question - if all values are unreal, then there is nothing differentiating them. So, the best choice is the one that will lead you to the best future, the one that aligns most readily with the economic environment (this is all from pages 1-10).

There is a distinction in ethics between externalism and internalism. Externalist ethics strives for universal claims - claims that apply to every person at every time. It is, thus, forced to also distinguish between the "truth" and "acceptance" conditions of behavior. It may be true that I should never lie, but my reason for not lying might have nothing to do with a universal imperative. (In fact, knowledge of certain universal imperatives - like the consequentialist "greatest good for the greatest number" - might cause me to do things which oppose it - mispredict what will be good for myself and others.) Internalist ethics, on the other hand, claims that an imperative only has truth insofar as it applies to situations in people's lives. It is an anti-theoretical approach to ethics. Now, Bernstein argues that this distinction is not a formal distinction - one in which the different types of ethics cover different terrains - but a contentual distinction - one about the attitude that they represent in the world. In internalist ethics, a person's motivations can contain patterns (of thought, of attachment, etc.), that is, motivations that lots of people have, and internalist ethics does not preclude the claim that "education, training, experience, imagination, and reflection" all contribute to our motivations (13), such that pretty much any originally externalist truth can be incorporated into an internalist explanation of motivations. The difference between the two ethics is that behind externalist ethics is "the experience of disenchantment" (14). Arguments against externalist ethics argue that this ethics fails to take into account - it "is indifferent to, squandes, and distorts" - "individual ethical experience" (15). It is an attempt to return the individual into a form of ethics - like the disenchantment of science/commerce above - that has quantified the individual. Bernstein claims that this objection comes from a standpoint of "hurt" (15), which is part of what Adorno means by a "damaged life" (see, Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Damaged Life) - that is, the person who objects to theories is objecting from a personal worry, not indifferent philosophical curiosity. The objections do not let up, not only because they are strong objections, but because the objectors are unwilling to stop objecting. It is through this hurt, in fact, that internalism and externalism become opposing ethics. When people are uncomfortable with externalist ethics, they are uncomfortable with the disenchantment of externalization, not with its claims. Adorno argues on similar grounds; he claims that the systematic distinction between specific and universal (between internal and external) is created by the disenchantment of rationalization/intellectualization. (This is not to say that specificity and unversality are not distinct, but that the distinction we make is caused by our disenchantment, so it is an example of the problem it is also trying to express.) To place specificity and universality into a binary affects the way we think about both concepts. It "distorts" them (18). In other words, as soon as we articulate the problem that we face, we are already falling into that problem, such that our articulation (and the concepts that we use in it) are aleady distorted. It is for this reason that Adorno claims that our problem is a "deficit of rationality" (18) - what it means for something to be rational is itself part of our problem. This problem is important because - if we believe it - "we have nothing approaching a normative account explaining how a wholly secular form of life can be rationally compelling and intrinsically motivating" (18). But, if we do not have such an account, then any rational work attempting to describe a wholly secular form of life (like Adorno's work and Bernstein's) is necessarily non-objective and partial. Responses to this problem are common, and in fact many attitudes in the world can be considered (at least partly) a response to disenchantment (see pages 19-20 for a list). In fact, it is at least hypothetically possible that all attitudes, all claims, reflect a position or hurt or flight from rationality (skepticism, cynicism, etc).

 

  • From __The Adorno Reader__
IntroductionAdorno's method for doing philosophy (one of them, at least) is to find antinomies in arguments and show that they are based on the society/material from which the argument developed. One of Adorno's central concepts is that of experience, which is based on Hegel. Hegel claims that "experience is the dialectical movement of consciousness" (11), where the movement refers to the moments in which we confront something that does nto fit within our understanding of truth, such that we have to revise our criteria for truth. (It is a dialectical movement in that it comes from within us (because we have a need to fit everything within our understanding) rather than from without.) This movement is natural - it occurs in everyday life - and if we refuse to do it, we are living in what is called "unthinking inertia" (12). Adorno agrees with Hegel in the understanding of experience, but claims that - because we are molded by our society, and it is often in society's best interest to keep us from revising our understanding of truth (about the society's goodness, say) - our "contemporary consciousness" is sustained by unthinking inertia. (Note: this molding by society is true of every discipline except for philosophy and art (!!!), where society does not have enough control.) If society sets its own perpetuation and growth above that of its constituent people (and thus removes their individuality ... called an "exchange society" (13)), and people have a fundamental need to be automonomous and individual, why would those people choose to help society fulfill its function? Adorno claims that we are experiencing "false consciousness" (13). In false consciousness, we stop being able to think of ourselves in terms of autonomous beings, and we also do not realize that society is contradicting our autonomy. Thus, we also miss the moment of change in our conception of truth. Now, an exchange society demands that each person be treated only in terms of the society's goals, so people become quantities with sets of quantifiable qualities (hence reification) for fulfilling those goals. Reification also explains the problem with contemporary rationality, which attempts to quantify everything. Adorno, then, is trying to return our attention to experience, which is neither immediately subjective nor objective. (In fact, Adorno claims that nothing is unmediated. The subject is only the subject in relation to objects.) One method for returing our attention (perhaps the method) is art (!!!), which (when it is authentic/truly aesthetic) occurs at a moment of experience, when our concept of truth is changing.
The Actuality of PhilosophyTwo ideas of Adorno's: 1) there can be no total philosophy (like Hegel attempted), 2) philosophy has to search for "true and just reality" rather than the appearances of reality (23).

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