By Alex Thomson

Essentially the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can usually look imprecise and impenetrable, rather for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A consultant for the puzzled is an interesting and obtainable account of his suggestion that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and those that have struggled to make headway along with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: basically written, complete and in particular all for simply what makes Adorno tricky to learn and comprehend.


“'Alex Thompson's ebook not just illuminates Adorno's most vital principles, it makes an unique contribution to modern social theory... The publication could be of serious clarificatory use for undergraduates, and should supply a lot stimulus to postgraduates and teachers as well.' Darrow Schecter, college of Sussex”

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Extra info for Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)

Sample text

In Negative Dialectics Adorno suggests that critical philosophy and autonomous art share a common aspiration towards singularity - the 'now and here' of all events, not just musical ones. But art strives to achieve this by its radical resistance to determination, meaning, explanation; philosophy can only pass by way of the concept, and thus through mediation (ND 15). This means an inevitable conflict, attested to in the common feeling that theoretical or philosophical investigation is somehow inimical to art, between the art work's claim to sensuous immediacy, to freedom from conceptual determination, and philosophy's rejection of that claim.

3 What is remarkable is not the vehemence of this response, but how typical it remains of many readers' reactions. Adorno is best known in the English-speaking world for his writing on popular culture, mostly produced in the years of exile in the United States, despite the fact that it is a very small part of his philosophical and critical achievement. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say 'notorious', since for the most part Adorno's name is simply used as shorthand for an elitist contempt for mass culture with which 'we' are assumed to have little in common.

QF226) The close identification of a critic with a particular artist or movement can often be telling. In Adorno's case, a long association with the composer Arnold Schoenberg reveals a great deal about his approach not only to art and culture, but also to philosophy and criticism in general. Adorno first met Schoenberg through the latter's pupil Alban Berg, with whom he took composition lessons in 1925, and subsequently maintained contact until Berg's death ten years later. 1 Adorno undoubtedly flatters himself through the comparison.

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