The Recovery of Experience
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: State University of New York Press
Adorno The Recovery of Experience
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Acknowledgments and a Note on Translation
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My engagement with Adorno began a decade ago under the auspices of Doug Moggach in the PhD program of the University of Ottawa. My ambition at the time was to rescue Adorno’s contribution to critical social theory from under the weight of its Habermasian critique. That project first crystallized during a stay at Frankfurt in 1997–1998 which, in large part because of ...
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The quotes from Proust above articulate both what is involved in the idea of spiritual experience, the interpretation of what strikes the senses as something that is at the same time “spiritual,” and also provide in miniature a depiction of the literary technique that is supposed to recover the idea of spiritual experience. The experiential item, Proust suggests, is to be read as a surface on ...
1. The Consequences of Disenchantment
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Understanding the critical role that spiritual experience plays in Adorno’s philosophy will require coming to grips with his view of the present as characterized by the atrophy of experience. At the root of this idea is a thesis about disenchantment that encompasses both a social history and a critique of modern philosophy in so far as it is unable to reflect critically on that history. Disenchantment ...
2. Saying the Unsayable
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There are almost certainly no philosophers of the twentieth century who rival Adorno and Ludwig Wittgenstein in terms of the depth of their self-reflection on questions of philosophical language and style. It is somewhat surprising, in light of this fact, that fruitful comparisons between Adorno and Wittgenstein have only begun to be developed within the last twenty years. Albrecht ...
3. Adorno and Benjamin on Language as Expression
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In a letter written in response to an invitation from Martin Buber to publish in his new journal Der Jude (The Jew),Walter Benjamin, in 1916, formulates a perspective on what cannot be said in language that is strikingly similar to Wittgenstein’s distinction between showing and saying. ...
4. Failed Outbreak I: Husserl
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A fragment in Adorno’s notebook, scribbled in May 1960, suggests a common thread for the entirety of his philosophical oeuvre. Adorno locates the source of this thread in a single childhood experience: “Since my earliest youth,” he claims, “I knew that everything that I stood for found itself in a hopeless struggle with what I perceived as the anti-spirit incarnate (das Geistfeindliche ...
5. Failed Outbreak II: Bergson
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Unlike in the case of Husserl, Adorno did not devote an extensive study to Henri Bergson. Usually, when Bergson is mentioned, it is in the same context as Husserl.1 Sometimes, Bergson is treated as representative of the pre–World War I generation (together with Husserl, Simmel, Dilthey), and its search for a philosophy driven by the content, in opposition to the causal-mechanical ...
6. Proust: Experience Regained
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In his “micro-commentaries” on À la recherche du temps perdu, Adorno describes Proust’s revolt against a “subsuming form imposed from above” (1974a, 203). Challenging the conventional representations of universal and particular, Proust, Adorno claims, takes seriously Hegel’s argument that “the particular is the universal and vice versa, both are mediated through one ...
7. A Contemporary Outbreak Attempt: John McDowell on Mind and World
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In his book Mind and World, John McDowell presents the problematic of contemporary philosophy in a fashion that invites substantive parallels with Adorno’s philosophical project. Like Adorno, McDowell is concerned with a process of disenchantment that breaks the entwinement of subject and object, or what McDowell refers to as “mind” and “world.” Recent analytic philosophy, ...
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The tradition of social theory associated with the Frankfurt School, of which Adorno is perhaps the best-known “first generation” representative, is not the only tradition in twentieth-century social philosophy to deal explicitly with problems of disenchantment incumbent on societal and cultural rationalization. There is a profound sense for these problems, for example, in John ...
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Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 2007