By Alex Thomson
Probably the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20 th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can usually 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 an interesting and available account of his inspiration 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 particularly all in favour of simply what makes Adorno tricky to learn and comprehend.
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Extra info for Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
Itself become obsolete' (CM 241). It means looking at culture from the inside, as a project doomed to perpetuate itself only through vicious and violent contradictions; but also from the outside, as a determined historical and political project, and therefore neither a natural nor the only possible one. Adorno's attempt to find a way of thinking and a form of expression adequate to this situation takes him to a complex combination of Hegel and Nietzsche, the two thinkers he acknowledges as the most penetrating thinkers of the dialectic of enlightenment: the idea that rationality, in seeking to overcome irrational understandings of the 28 AGAINST AUTHENTICITY world, itself turns into a form of irrational domination.
Adorno much prefers to push his arguments to extremes, partly in response to his understanding of the way thought must overcome its own sedentary tendencies, but also partly in order to force some kind of response from the reader.
In setting itself against the sources from which it springs, disavowing its own affinity with the bourgeois and commercial view of the world, culture cuts itself off from the world which it claims to criticize. But without some normative idea of culture as an improved - more moral, more rational - way of life, what values are there against which we might judge the world and find it wanting? Can the choice really be democracy or freedom, equality or justice? His liberation from a 'naive belief in culture' and gaining 'the ability to see culture from the outside' means that Adorno can achieve two otherwise incompatible projects at once.