Theodor W Adorno (1903-1969) was one of the twentieth century's most important thinkers. This volume provides an introduction to Adorno's challenging and far-reaching thought. It explains Adorno's epistemology, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and theory of culture.
Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) was one of the twentieth century's most important thinkers. Seeking to synthesize the essential insights of Western philosophy, Adorno revisited the ethical and sociological arguments of his predecessors - Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Walter Benjamin - in light of two pivotal twentieth-century developments: the rise of fascism, which culminated in the Holocaust, and the standardization of 'popular' culture as a commodity indispensable to contemporary capitalism. This volume, first published in Germany in 1996, provides a succinct introduction to Adorno's challenging and far-reaching thought. Gerhard Schweppenhauser, a leading German scholar of the Frankfurt School of critical theory (whose members included Adorno, Benjamin, and Horkheimer), explains Adorno's epistemology, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and theory of culture.; After providing a brief overview of Adorno's life, Schweppenhauser turns to the theorist's core philosophical concepts, including post-Kantian critique, determined negation, and the primacy of the object, as well as his view of the Enlightenment as a code for world domination, his diagnosis of modern mass culture as a program of social control, and his understanding of modernist aesthetics as a challenge to conceive an alternative politics. Along the way, Schweppenhauser illuminates the works widely considered Adorno's most important achievements: "Minima Moralia", "Dialectic of Enlightenment" (co-authored with Horkheimer), and "Negative Dialectics". Adorno wrote much of the first two of these during his years in California (1938-49), where he lived near Arnold Schoenberg and Thomas Mann, whom he assisted with the musical aesthetics at the centre of Mann's novel "Doctor Faustus". Expanding on the German edition, this volume includes additional information about Adorno's philosophy of music and more analysis of Benjamin's influence on his theory of art and mass culture.