By Simon Jarvis

Jarvis deals an advent to the highbrow and institutional contexts for Adorno's suggestion, and examines his contributions to social conception, cultural concept, aesthetics and philosophy. He demonstrates the iconic coherence and explanatory energy of Adorno's paintings and illustrates its carrying on with relevance to modern debates.

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Extra info for Adorno: A Critical Introduction

Sample text

But any thiwry which aims at materialism cannot install fixed separations - 77ie Dialectic of Eiilightrn~nrnt 37 even if procedural or methodological - between nature and 4ture, or between communication and domination. A philosophy of history? A further apparent difficulty with the argument is its complex relation to a philosophy of history. Adorno and Horkheimer might be thought guilty of providing a monological account of history whereby information about noncapitalist societies can be identified with a primitive stage of a unilinear historical development.

The reader is confronted with what look like a series of wild generalizations barely susceptible to empirical confirmation, claims which are not followed by a leisurely marshalling of evidence, but rather by further equally ambitious claims: ‘Myth is already enlightenment‘; ‘Enlightenment reverts to mythology‘; T h e history of civilization is the introversion of sacrifice’. A few thinly sown references to often out-of-date historical and anthropological sources do little to cheer the reader up.

For Schnadelbach the difficulty is not one which can be settled simply by demonstrating enough g d will towards the unrealizcd goals of The Dialectic of Enlightenmnit 41 enlightenment on Adorno and Horkheimer's part; rather, it lies in the genre to which their argument itself belongs. M They inevitably end, that is, by providing us, not with a theory of human sociation, but with a story about it. The tendency for the dialtrtir of enlightenment to be replaced with a dyriarnic in which social life is tendentially becoming 'more and more' administered and commodified, and reason is becoming 'more and more' identitarian and instrumental, could thus from a viewpoint like Schnadelbach's be seen as just what we should expect from a social myth with culturalistic presuppositions.

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