Can One Live After Auschwitz?: A Philosophical Reader

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This is a comprehensive collection of readings from the work of Theodor Adorno, one of the most influential German thinkers of the twentieth century.

What took place in Auschwitz revokes what Adorno termed the “Western legacy of positivity,” the innermost substance of traditional philosophy. The prime task of philosophy then remains to reflect on its own failure, its own complicity in such events. Yet in linking the question of philosophy to historical occurrence, Adorno seems not to have abandoned his paradoxical, life-long hope that philosophy might not be entirely closed to the idea of redemption. He prepares for an altogether different praxis, one no longer conceived in traditionally Marxist terms but rather to be gleaned from “metaphysical experience.”

In this collection, Adorno's literary executor has assembled the definitive introduction to his thinking. Its five sections anatomize the range of Adorno's concerns: “Toward a New Categorical Imperative,” “Damaged Life,” “Administered World, Reified Thought,” “Art, Memory of Suffering,” and “A Philosophy That Keeps Itself Alive.”

A substantial number of Adorno’s writings included appear here in English for the first time. This collection comes with an eloquent introduction from Rolf Tiedemann, the literary executor of Adorno’s work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Can One Live after Auschwitz? provides a very useful cross-section of Adorno's work on the task of thought after the Holocaust."—The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

"Despite his conviction that no philosophy could presume to approach an event like Auschwitz, this collection of Adorno's essays and aphorisms attests to his extraordinary effort to regard human suffering as the precondition of thought and as the undoing of all claims to totality. Adorno's cultural criticism emerges here as a moral philosophy for a 'world that has outlived its own demise.'"
—Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804731447
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Series: Cultural Memory in the Present Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 992,604
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) was a prominent member of the Frankfurt School and one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. Rolf Tiedemann is the literary executor of Adorno and of Walter Benjamin and the editor of the German editions of Adorno's collected works and his posthumous writings.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Not the First Philosophy, but a Last One": Notes on Adorno's Thought
Note on Sources
Pt. I Toward a New Categorical Imperative
1 The Meaning of Working through the Past 3
2 Education after Auschwitz 19
Pt. II Damaged Life
3 Selections from Minima Moralia 37
Pt. II Administered World, Reified Thought
4 Reflections on Class Theory 93
5 Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?: The Fundamental Question of the Present Structure of Society 111
6 Progress 126
7 Cultural Criticism and Society 146
8 The Jargon of Authenticity 163
9 Crowds and Power: Conversation with Elias Canetti 182
Pt. IV Art, Memory of Suffering
10 Heine the Wound 205
11 Notes on Kafka 211
12 Commitment 240
13 Trying to Understand Endgame 259
14 Beethoven's Late Style 295
15 Schubert 299
16 Wagner's Relevance Today 314
17 Mahler 333
18 Alban Berg 357
19 Art and the Arts 368
Pt. V A Philosophy that Keeps Itself Alive
20 Elements of Anti-Semitism: Limits of Enlightenment 391
21 Selections from Metaphysics: Concept and Problems 427
Credits 471
Translators' and Editors' Notes 473
Index of Names 519
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