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Adorno and Existence

Adorno and Existence

Peter E. Gordon

ISBN 9780674986862

Publication date: 08/13/2018

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From the beginning to the end of his career, the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno sustained an uneasy but enduring bond with existentialism. His attitude overall was that of unsparing criticism, verging on polemic. In Kierkegaard he saw an early paragon for the late flowering of bourgeois solipsism; in Heidegger, an impresario for a “jargon of authenticity” cloaking its idealism in an aura of pseudo-concreteness and neo-romantic kitsch. Even in the straitened rationalism of Husserl’s phenomenology Adorno saw a vain attempt to break free from the prison-house of consciousness.

“Gordon, in a detailed, sensitive, fair-minded way, leads the reader through Adorno’s various, usually quite vigorous, rhetorically pointed attacks on both transcendental and existential phenomenology from 1930 on…[A] singularly illuminating study.”
—Robert Pippin, Critical Inquiry

“Gordon’s book offers a significant contribution to our understanding of Adorno’s thought. He writes with expertise, authority, and compendious scholarship, moving with confidence across the thinkers he examines…After this book, it will not be possible to explain Adorno’s philosophical development without serious consideration of [Gordon’s] reactions to them.”
—Richard Westerman, Symposium

Praise

  • This extraordinary study is a marvelous interpretation of the whole of Adorno’s philosophical thinking by making convincingly clear to what surprising degree it is dependent on some constitutive ideas of Kierkegaard. Gordon successfully integrates two aims, the systematic re-interpretation of Adorno’s philosophy and the subtle reconstruction of his intellectual development. This is a tour de force for which Peter Gordon deserves highest admiration.

    —Axel Honneth, Goethe University Frankfurt and Columbia University

Author

  • Peter E. Gordon is Amabel B. James Professor of History and Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and Resident Faculty at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies.

Book Details

  • 272 pages
  • Harvard University Press

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