Consequences of Enlightenment

Consequences of Enlightenment

Consequences of Enlightenment

Consequences of Enlightenment


What is the relationship between contemporary intellectual culture and the European Enlightenment? In Consequences of Enlightenment, Anthony Cascardi revisits the arguments advanced in Horkheimer and Adorno's seminal work Dialectic of Enlightenment. Cascardi argues that postmodern culture does not reject Enlightenment beliefs and explores the link between aesthetics and politics in thinkers as diverse as Habermas, Derrida, Arendt, Nietzsche, Hegel and Wittgenstein. He reverses the tendency to see art simply in terms of the worldly practices among which it is situated. Aesthetic objects, he argues, are themselves capable of disclosing truth.


There has always existed in the world, and there will always continue to
exist, some kind of metaphysics. Immanuel Kant

Philosophy, which once seemed obsolete, lives on because the moment to
realize it was missed. The summary judgment that it had merely inter
preted the world, that resignation in the face of reality had crippled it in
itself, becomes a defeatism of reason after the attempt to change the
world miscarried … Having broken its pledge to be as one with reality or
at the point of realization, philosophy is obliged ruthlessly to criticize
itself. Theodor Adorno

We have art – lest we perish of the truth. Friedrich Nietzsche

The present volume represents an attempt to reassess the relationship between certain issues in contemporary critical theory and the question of Enlightenment. I take my bearings by reference to claims about the self-canceling nature of Enlightenment rationality as formulated in the opening essay of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment ("The Concept of Enlightenment"), and move conceptually from there to address the ways in which their concerns can be reevaluated in light of an aesthetic critique modeled along lines sketched out

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York:
St. Martin's Press, 1965), B xxxi.

Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. E. B. Ashton (New York: Seabury
Press, 1979), p. 3.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, ed. Walter Kaufmann, trans. Walter
Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage, 1968), sec. 435.

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