Language Without Soil: Adorno and Late Philosophical Modernity

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Theodor W. Adorno's multifaceted work has exerted a profound impact on far-ranging discourses and critical practices in late modernity. His analysis of the fate of art following its alleged end, of ethical imperatives after Auschwitz,of the negative dialectic of myth and freedom from superstition, of the manipulation of consciousness by the unequal siblings of fascism and the culture industry, and of the narrowly-conceived concept of reason that has given rise to an unprecedented exploitation of nature and needless human suffering, all speak to central concerns of our time. The essays collected here analyze the full range of implications emanating from Adorno's demand that the task of critical thinking be to imagine a mode of being in the world that occurs in and through a language that has liberated itself from the spell of an alleged historical and political inevitability, what he once tellingly called a language without soil.Adorno' s finely chiseled sentences perform a ceaseless gesture of thoughtful vigilance, a vigilance understood not in the sense of moralizing or ethical normativity but of a rigorous attention to the presuppositions of thinking itself. The volume's fresh readings conspire to yield a refractory and unorthodox Adorno, a suggestive and at times infuriating thinker of the first order, whose intellectual gestures sponsor politically conscious modes of theoretical speculation in a late modernity that may still have a future because its language and aspirations are without soil. Also included is an annotated translation of a seminal interview Adorno gave in 1969 concerning the relationship of Critical Theory to political activism. In it, the dialectical interplay between thought and action forcefully emerges.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This is a magical volume. These beautiful essays transform the most canonical works of Adorno from monuments we thought we knew into opportunities for future thought. The Adorno of this volume is neither a matter of the past nor a straightforward thought machine, but rather an intricate, challenging, searching plurality of voices that are, at times, at odds with each other. In other words, this is a new Adorno, an Adorno not yet known to us, not yet explored, and an Adorno not yet complete. This new Adorno is a matter of the future, of reading, and discovery.-Fritz Breithaupt

A very thoughtfully comprised and well executed collection with a numberof insightful contributions that individually and as a whole open up new perspectives in Adorno scholarship.-Eva Geulen

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823231263
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 11/18/2009
  • Edition description: 3
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerhard Richter is Professor of German and Director of the Graduate Progam in Critical Theory at the University of California, Davis. The most recent of his books is Thought-Images: Frankfurt School Writers' Reflections from Damaged Life.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction Gerhard Richter 1

1 Without Soil: A Figure in Adorno's Thought Alexander GarcíA Düttmann 10

2 Taking on the Stigma of Inauthenticity: Adorno's Critique of Genuineness Martin Jay 17

3 Suffering Injustice: Misrecognition as Moral Injury in Critical Theory J. M. Bernstein 30

4 Idiosyncrasies: Of Anti-Semitism Jan Plug 52

5 Adorno's Lesson Plans? The Ethics of (Re)Education in "The Meaning of 'Working through the Past'" Jaimey Fisher 76

6 Adorno-Nature-Hegel Theresa M. Kelley 99

7 The Idiom of Crisis: On the Historical Immanence of Language in Adorno Neil Larsen 117

8 Aesthetic Theory and Nonpropositional Truth Content in Adorno Gerhard Richter 131

9 The Homeland of Language: A Note on Truth and Knowledge in Adorno Mirko Wischke 147

10 Of Stones and Glass Houses: Minima Moralia as Critique of Transparency Eric Jarosinski 157

11 The Polemic of the Late Work: Adorno's Hölderlin Robert Savage 172

12 Twelve Anacoluthic Theses on Adorno's "Parataxis: On Hölderlin's Late Poetry" David Farrell Krell 195

13 The Ephemeral and the Absolute: Provisional Notes to Adorno's Aesthetic Theory Peter Uwe hohendahl 206

Appendix: Who's Afraid of the Ivory Tower?

A Conversation with Theodor W. Adorno Translated, Edited, and with an Introduction by Gerhard Richter 227

Notes 239

List of Contributors 293

Index 297

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