By Simon Jarvis
Jarvis bargains an creation to the highbrow and institutional contexts for Adorno's proposal, and examines his contributions to social concept, cultural thought, aesthetics and philosophy. He demonstrates the iconic coherence and explanatory strength of Adorno's paintings and illustrates its carrying on with relevance to modern debates.
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Additional info for Adorno: A Critical Introduction
Such a theory hoped to place concrete social experience at its centre, yet without abandoning the wish to interpret and understand such experience, rather than merely to dasslfy it. 2 - A Critical Theory of Society The concept of society The approach developed in the Dialertic of Edigltft*rrmmfmust clearly have far-reaching consequences for any social criticism. We can see this if we confront it with sociology's most elementary question. What is society? ' On this interpretation it is the term 'society' itself which is mystifying, a last remnant of metaphysics, and meaningful research would have to dispense with such unhelpful abstractions until a clear definition could be given.
Instead Adorno and Horkheimer want not only to show up, like Nietlsche, the extent to which whatever is presented as pure or disinterested rationality is entangled with domination, but also, like Hegel, the distorted rationality implicit in whatever is presented as sheer irrational coercion. This has two consequences. Firstly, since there is no domination unmediated by rationality, ‘pure’ domination cannot be defined. Secondly, since there is no rationality (yet) wholly free of domination, domination is not (yet) wholly intelligible.
Because ’myth is already enlightenment‘ Adorno and Horkheimer do not believe that there was a time ‘before’ domination. What enlightened thought repre sents as sheer myth or superstition, rather, is already a form of cognition. In the light of twentiethcentury social anthropology the idea that magic is a cognitive practice, or that ancient religion and cosmology themselves contain rational criticisms of animist or other forms of religion might appear obvious to the point of banality. Their local force can be better seen in an intellectualhistorical context.
Adorno: A Critical Introduction by Simon Jarvis