Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations

Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations

Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations

Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations

Synopsis

Hannah Arendt and Theodor W. Adorno, two of the most influential political philosophers and theorists of the twentieth century, were contemporaries with similar interests, backgrounds, and a shared experience of exile. Yet until now, no book has brought them together. In this first comparative study of their work, leading scholars discuss divergences, disclose surprising affinities, and find common ground between the two thinkers. This pioneering work recovers the relevance of Arendt and Adorno for contemporary political theory and philosophy and lays the foundation for a critical understanding of political modernity: from universalistic claims for political freedom to the abyss of genocidal politics.

Excerpt

Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno were undoubtedly among the most influential political theorists and philosophers of the twentieth century. And yet despite the enormous impact the work of these two contemporaries has had on political and social theory philosophy and the humanities more generally this is the first book in English that takes a comparative look at both authors. This has been a long time coming. But the book would not have seen the light of day without the cast of outstanding scholars supporting our project and contributing to this volume. We owe a special debt of gratitude to them for their willingness to present original work in this volume—work cutting incisively across the rigid theoretical boundaries that have existed for far too long. We thank them, additionally for the enormous generosity of spirit and forbearance they have shown in the face of many often unexpected, delays. It is our hope that this volume will open the space for many more such studies that seek to compare, explore, and critically appropriate, not only Arendt’s and Adorno’s work, but also the profound intellectual traditions they embody.

This book is, in more ways than one, a collaborative project. It is a product of several years of the editors’ joint work on Arendt and Adorno and of many fruitful discussions between them. In no small measure, the volume has benefited hugely from the intellectual and institutional environments in which it developed, environments without which long-term commitments to projects are simply not possible. We thank Simon Fraser University’s Institute for the Humanities, which is approaching its thirtieth year, and the University of Michigan, in particular its Department of Political Science, for funding and institutional support, and for providing the kind of extraordinary spaces and communities in which our work could take hold and flourish.

We are also very grateful to graduate students at both institutions for their feedback in seminars on Hannah Arendt and on the Frankfurt School. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which generously . . .

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