Negative Dialectics by Theodor W. Adorno

By Theodor W. Adorno

The significant paintings and Adorno's culminating success. destructive Dialectics is a critique of the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger, and a visionary elaboration of the author's personal imaginative and prescient of dialectics.

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But if a mode of conduct shields no primacy, harbors no certainty, and yet—because of its definite presentation, if on no other grounds—concedes so little to relativism, the twin of absolutism, that it approaches a doctrine, such a mode will give offense. It goes beyond, and to the point of breaking with, the dialectics of Hegel, who wanted his dialectics to be all things, including prima philosophia, and in fact made it that in his principle of identity, his absolute subject. By dissociating thought from primacy and solidity, however, we do not absolutize it as in free suspense.

The sublimation of this anthropological schema extends all the way to epistemology. Idealism—most explicitly Fichte—gives unconscious sway to the 22 INTRODUCTION ideology that the not-I, Vautrui, and finally all that reminds us of nature is inferior, so the unity of the self-preserving thought may devour it without misgivings. This justifies the principle of the thought as much as it increases the appetite. The system is the belly turned mind, and rage is the mark of each and every idealism. It disfigures even Kant's humanism and refutes the aura of higher and nobler things in which he knew how to garb it.

A scientific consensus tends to admit that experience also implies theory. It holds, however, that experience is a "standpoint," hypothetically at best. Conciliatory representatives of scientivism demand that what they call "decent" or "clean" science should account for premises of the sort. Precisely this demand is incompatible with the mind's experience. Any standpoint it were asked to have would be that of the diner regarding the roast. Experience lives by consuming the standpoint; not until the standpoint is submerged in it would there be philosophy.

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