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Theodor Adorno - Essay Example

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Theodor Adorno

Adorno was also influenced by Hegel, Kant, Heidegger and Lukas (Callaghan, 2000). Adorno was primarily a philosophical thinker. The label 'social philosopher' emphasises the socially critical aspect of his philosophical thinking, which from 1945 onwards took an intellectually well-known position in the critical theory of the Frankfurt School (Theodor Adorno, 2006). Adorno was greatly influenced by Walter Benjamin's application of Karl Marx's thought. However Adorno, along with other major Frankfurt School theorists such as Horkheimer and Marcuse, argued that advanced capitalism was able to contain or liquidate the forces that would bring about its collapse and that the revolutionary moment, when it would have been possible to change it into socialism, had passed. However, Adorno argued that capitalism had become more well-established through its attack on the objective basis of revolutionary consciousness and through liquidation of the individualism that had been the basis of critical consciousness (Theodor Adorno, 2006). Some of Adorno's assertions are:
AESTHETIC THEORY: Adorno asserts the "priority of the object in art," or what is called a materialist aesthetic, in contrast to the idealist aesthetic of Kant which privileges the subject over the object (Jarvis, 1998). For Kant, the experience of art is a product of the perceptions of the subject. For Adorno, the art object and the aesthetic experience of the art object contain a truth-content (Callaghan, 2000).
CONSTELLATION: Adorno borrowed this term constellation from Benjamin. It signifies "a juxtaposed rather than integrated cluster of changing elements that resist reduction to a common denominator, essential core, or generative first principle" (Jay, 1984). This concept can be seen in Adorno's writing style. Adorno seeks to enact a negative dialectic, in which concepts are not reduced to categorical understandings (Callaghan, 2000)
CRITICAL THEORY: This is a term for the philosophical and methodological bases underlying the type of sociology practiced by Adorno and other members of the Frankfurt School. Critical theory is based on the belief of society as a dialectical entity, and the conviction that teaching about society can only be developed in the most tightly incorporated connection of disciplines; above all, economics, psychology, history and philosophy (O'Connor, 2000; Callaghan, 2000).
NEGATIVE DIALECTICS: Adorno believes that the standard mode of human understanding is identity thinking, which means that a particular object is understood in terms of a universal concept (Callaghan, 2000).
UTOPIA: The concept of utopia represents potential. In Adorno's work, utopia's "perennial aim is to resist the liquidation of the possibility of really new experience" (Jarvis, 1998). This is evident in Adorno's discussion of utopia in relation to art in Aesthetic Theory (Callaghan, 2000).
Adorno values musical complexity
Popular media and music products are characterised by standardisation (they are basically formulaic and similar) and pseudo-individualisation (incidental differences make them seem distinctive, but they're not). Products of the culture industry may be emotional or apparently moving, but Adorno sees this as cathartic - man might seek some comfort in a sad film or song, have a bit of a cry, and then feel ...Show more
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Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund Adorno (September 11, 1903 - August 6, 1969) was a German sociologist, philosopher, musicologist and composer (Theodor Adorno, 2006). He is best known as a member of the Frankfurt School, the casual name for a group of thinkers who work with the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany…
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