In Horkheimer, together with Pollock, resettled there, though he made a number of return visits to the United States in subsequent years. The Institute's new home, located near the ruins of its prewar structure, officially reopened in Adorno's first return to Germany since his departure in came in November ; he was now forty-six. The Germany, and the university, to which Horkheimer, Pollock, and Adorno returned was profoundly different from what they had experienced before the war, as Wiggershaus summarizes: They saw themselves as Jews, as left-wing intellectuals and as critical sociologists in an environment which had been more or less completely purged of people like themselves, and in which all the signs had long since been pointing clearly to the restoration of the old order.
The unique symbiosis represented by German-Jewish culture [whose liberal traditions had been a marked feature of Frankfurt University prior to Nazism] had been irreversibly destroyed. Apart from Horkheimer and Adorno, none of the distinguished lecturers or professors from the heyday of Frankfurt University—the last years of the Weimar Republic—returned.
Horkheimer, Adorno and Pollock could count on being met with patience and good intentions precisely because they were, and remained, the exceptions. In Adorno was given a tenured faculty position, but as a special case—the precise title was "Extraordinary Chair of Philosophy and Sociology"—as a form of compensation and restitution.
But Adorno's position, even in official university language, came to be called the "Compensation Chair, " the very name of which in German Wiedergutmachungslehrstuhl is rendered absurd by the extraordinary length of the coinage. He was finally granted a full professorship in Horkheimer had signed a research contract with the Hacker Foundation, the brainchild of Friedrich Hacker, a Viennese-born psychiatrist who had opened a clinic in Beverly Hills.
The matter was mutually beneficial. Hacker "hoped to gain an academic reputation and advertising for his clinic through collaboration with the leading members of the Institute of Social Research"; 31 and the Institute's principal figures needed the funding that Hacker was able to provide.
Adorno was sent to fulfill the contract; he also needed to return to the United States, else lose his American citizenship which was in fact subsequently surrendered. Under sponsorship from the Hacker Foundation, Adorno produced two studies on popular culture, "The Stars Down to Earth," a monograph-length essay on popular astrology, and the much shorter foray into television, "How to Look at Television.
He acknowledges that "At no moment during my emigration did I relinquish the hope of coming back.
I simply wanted to go back to the place where I spent my childhood, where what is specifically mine was imparted to the very core. Perhaps I sensed that whatever one accomplishes in life is little other than the attempt to regain childhood. Adorno played up the ordinary European disdain for American commercialism "because it has produced nothing but refrigerators and automobiles while Germany produced the culture of the spirit.
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The issue was not America or its commercialism. Indeed, in America, he pointed out, "there also flourishes sympathy, compassion, and commiseration with the lot of the weaker. The energetic will to establish a free society—rather than only apprehensively thinking of freedom and, even in thought, degrading it into voluntary submission [i. In Germany, arrogance toward America is inappropriate.
By misusing a higher good, it serves only the mustiest of instincts. He relates a particularly telling experience involving an American editor, "incidentally a European emigrant," who wanted to publish a portion of Philosophy of Modern Music in English translation, a draft of which Adorno prepared for him to consider. The result was rejection on grounds that it was "badly organized. Taken as a whole, the sheer quantity of his oeuvre is staggering.
The German Collected Edition twenty volumes, printed in twenty-three comprises more than ten thousand pages, of which more than four thousand concern music; put differently, if pedantically, something over three million words in all, of which a million concern music. And much more remains to be published. The Nachlass, slowly appearing, is estimated to equal the length of the Gesammelte Schriften when complete.
He left unfinished a virtually career-long project on Beethoven—first published more than twenty years after his death and only recently translated into English— Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music. He supervised publication of six essay collections devoted solely to music: Dissonanzen , Sound Figures [, Klangfiguren ] , Der getreue Korrepetitor , Quasi una fantasia , Moments musicaux , and Impromptus The collection Prisms appeared in , containing several important music essays in addition to others on a variety of subjects.
He also published a loosely structured monograph on musical sociology, Introduction to the Sociology of Music The range of these collections is noteworthy: composers from Bach to Boulez, but focusing on the nineteenth century, Beethoven especially, and on the twentieth century up to the s; specific musical works; the institution of early music leading the way into the "authenticity debates" of the s ; compositional procedure; musical form; radio music; jazz; and kitsch; chamber music; opera; new music; popular and light music; conductors and conducting; musical nationalism; the role of the critic; recording technology; types of musical conduct; a theory of listening and listeners; and music pedagogy to touch on only some of the most important topoi.
In Berg confided to Schoenberg in a letter that he found "Wiesengrund's work very good and I believe it would also meet with your approval, should you ever hear it. And this despite the fact that Adorno was highly critical of the canonic status that serial compositional procedures attained in the aftermath of Schoenberg and Webern, a critique which was, in fact, explicitly voiced in Philosophy of Modern Music and later in "The Aging of the New Music," included in this volume.
Between and , Adorno produced four volumes of essays on a broad array of literary topics, Notes to Literature I-IV. His philosophical monographs from this period include Against Epistemology: A Metacritique , a critique of Husserl and phenomenology; and The Jargon of Authenticity , attacking Heidegger and other proponents of Existentialism.
Negative Dialectics, a sustained critique of canonic Western philosophy and metaphysics from Kant and Hegel to Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre, appeared in Not quite finished at the time of his death was Aesthetic Theory. And there is much more that I have not mentioned, including several other essay collections, and many single essays.
Often lost sight of in American consideration of Adorno, likely due to the difficulty of his major philosophical works, is that he was in every sense a public intellectual. Thus between and he was heard on more than radio programs on highly varied subjects, including music. Other topics included matters of general political interest, such as the state of German public education and the question of historical memory in the light of National Socialism.
Often Adorno revised the radio lectures for publication, principally in popular journals, and later collected them in paperback editions. As Henry W. Pickford notes, "His engagement in the mass media was a logical consequence of his eminently practical intentions to effect change. And of course he often lectured at other German academic institutions.
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In short, he was a major intellectual force in both academic and public spheres. In the words of his friend Leo Lowenthal—who chose to remain in the United States after the war and achieved a notably distinguished career at Berkeley—Adorno was "Germany's most prominent academic teacher and outstanding citizen of the Western-European avant-garde.
Adorno had refused to join the student protests in Frankfurt in Worse, on 31 January he had called in the police to end what he mistakenly thought was a student occupation of the Institute in fact, the seventy-six students arrested had merely been looking for a place to meet. Matters came to a final head in April when three women activists of the SDS interrupted Adorno's philosophy lecture "An Introduction to Dialectical Thinking" by surrounding him at the podium, bearing their breasts, simulating caresses, and "attacking" him with flowers. As Martin Jay described it, "Adorno, unnerved and humiliated, left the lecture hall with the students mockingly proclaiming that 'as an institution, Adorno is dead.
Critical Theory Whoever doesn't entertain any idle thoughts doesn't throw any wrenches into the machinery.
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Theodor Adorno, "Meaning of Working through the Past" Critical Theory—the designation comes from Adorno's friend and mentor Max Horkheimer in an essay published in 47 —is constituted as a loose amalgamation of philosophical principles rather than as either a neatly packaged system or a methodological recipe. To be sure, Frankfurt School Critical Theory evolved over time and was never regarded as a seamless entity. Nonetheless, some basic parameters are clear and well established. Horkheimer's lengthy essay, "Traditional and Critical Theory" , is a good place to start.
He opens the text with a question: "What is 'theory'?
watch The smaller the number of primary principles in comparison with the derivations, the more perfect the theory. The real validity of the theory depends on the derived propositions being consonant with the actual facts. Both are not simply natural; they are shaped by human activity, and yet the individual perceives himself as receptive and passive in the act of perception. Stated simply, traditional theory cannot address the fact and problem of the social totality precisely because the social totality develops less from the relation of fact to fact and more from the relation of fact to value.
Further, fact and value are invariably history-laden, and the "facts" of history become facts not as the result of some natural order but because they are made so, indeed even willed so, by the social orders that prevail in a given time and place, which is to suggest that a social or cultural "fact" is not necessarily either permanently or universally so regarded. Moreover, the thinking subject—who will produce or define social "facts"—is never external to the processes for which explanation is sought.
The scholar-subject is not autonomous; to assume autonomy is blindly to accept as "natural" fact the ideology of the Cartesian ego itself the mind "is not cut loose from the life of society; it does not hang suspended over it". And further, thought is marked by social privilege; it bears the mark of society's lack of equality.
That some individuals are intellectuals occurs in relation to the denial of the intellectual practice to others, and this social fact affects thought itself. Expressed in more global language, the happiness of some comes about via the denial of happiness to others; it is this crucial mediation of happiness that is erased unless the "fact" of happiness is examined in relation to value and history.
The Marxian insight that drives Horkheimer's concern is the demand for equal justice. But unlike Marx he does not see a rising up of the proletariat neither did Adorno. That the poor and oppressed deserve, or for that matter might even demand, justice does not constitute its guarantee. Indeed, Horkheimer notes that the situation of social degradation and domination is "no guarantee of correct knowledge.
Horkheimer acknowledges the utopian character of Critical Theory; its goal is not the perpetuation of present society but society's transformation. Salvaging the possibility of thought itself appeared to be an enormous challenge: anti-reason seemed to drive modernity toward dystopian fulfillment. As he pointed out, "the first consequence of the theory which urges a transformation of society as a whole is only an intensification of the struggle with which the theory is connected. The genuinely critical need of thought to awaken from the cultural phantasmagoria is trapped, channeled, steered into the wrong consciousness.
The culture of its environment has broken thought of the habit to ask what all this may be, and to what end; it has enfeebled the question [of] what it all means—a question growing in urgency as fewer people find some such sense self-evident, as it yields more and more to cultural bustle.
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