Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts

Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts

Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts

Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts

Synopsis

Adorno continues to have an impact on disciplines as diverse as philosophy, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, musicology and literary theory. An uncompromising critic, even as Adorno contests many of the premises of the philosophical tradition, he also reinvigorates that tradition in his concerted attempt to stem or to reverse potentially catastrophic tendencies in the West. This book serves as a guide through the intricate labyrinth of Adorno's work. Expert contributors make Adorno accessible to a new generation of readers without simplifying his thought. They provide readers with the key concepts needed to decipher Adorno's often daunting books and essays.

Excerpt

Deborah Cook

Adorno’s professional life was bound indissolubly to the Institute for Social Research, which opened on 22 June 1924 in Frankfurt-amMain, Germany. At its inception, Institute members engaged in interdisciplinary studies devoted to the theory and history of socialism and the labour movement. However, after the first director, Carl Grünberg, resigned, Max Horkheimer took his place in 1930, giving the Institute a new orientation. In his inaugural address, Horkheimer stated that the work undertaken by the Institute would examine “the connection between the economic life of society, the psychical development of individuals, and the changes in the realm of culture in the narrower sense (to which belong not only the so-called intellectual elements, such as science, art, and religion, but also law, customs, fashion, public opinion, sports, leisure activities, lifestyle, etc.)”. Using both empirical research and philosophy, the Institute would develop a theory of contemporary society by analysing its prevailing tendencies, with the ultimate goal of transforming society along more rational lines.

However, with the victory of Hitler’s National Socialist Party in 1930, the Institute – nicknamed Café Marx – would not remain in Frankfurt much longer. It was closed and its property confiscated by the Gestapo in 1933 on the grounds that it had communist leanings. Having taken the precaution of placing the Institute’s funds in Holland in 1931, Horkheimer had the resources needed to establish a branch of the Institute at Columbia University in New York in 1934, where he was soon joined by Friedrich Pollock, Herbert Marcuse and Leo Löwenthal. As they were settling in the United . . .

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