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

By Alex Thomson

Essentially 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 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 proposal that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and those that have struggled to make headway together with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: in actual fact written, accomplished and in particular enthusiastic about simply what makes Adorno tough to learn and comprehend.


“'Alex Thompson's publication not just illuminates Adorno's most vital principles, it makes an unique contribution to modern social theory... The booklet should 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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The book is subtitled 'Fragments from a damaged life', and it is tempting to misread the book as a documentary account of Adorno's disjunction from his new place of residence. For example, he describes the American landscape' as 'uncomforted and comfortless' (MM 28); remarks that 'to the uninformed European, Americans in their entirety can so easily appear as people without dignity' (MM 195); moreover, it is easy to identify what Adorno and Horkheimer called 'the culture industry' in their Dialectic of Enlightenment with Hollywood; and the wrong life in which it is impossible to live rightly with the life of America (MM 39).

Democracy. What is expressed as a 27 ADORNO: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED contrast in Minima Moralia is more fully spelt out in the later essay: what was imposed on Germany rather late as 'nothing more than the formal rules of the game' is there deep-rooted, 'substantial'. The political form of democracy is infinitely closer to the people. American everyday life, despite the oft lamented hustle and bustle, has an inherent element of peaceableness, good-naturedness, and generosity, in sharpest contrast to the pent-up malice and envy which exploded in Germany between 1933 and 1945.

31 Yet the commercial availability of Adorno's work contrasts starkly with its accessibility. Writing on moral philosophy, epistemology, sociology, aesthetics, literature and, above all, music, Adorno's works are not only formidable in length, breadth and erudition but deeply idiosyncratic in approach. The aim of this Guide for the Perplexed'^ to help make Adorno's work more readable. In this chapter I hope to have set out something of the broad framework within which his writings on art and culture, on freedom and society, and on philosophy and history can be read, while the following chapters turn to each of these areas in more detail.

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