Adorno and Art: Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory by James Hellings

By James Hellings

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If the development towards the administered international is nearing final touch, if spectacularised societies, industrialised cultures, and reified recognition have taken regulate, then, Adorno and Art indicates how radical and progressive Adorno’s aesthetic conception of art’s double personality continues to be, and the way complicated, innovative and oppositional, different types of artwork supply, maybe, the simplest desire for overcoming broken life.

The caricatures of Adorno, his politics and his aesthetics, are renowned error of judgement—widely repeated either through the academy and through the Left. Adorno’s aesthetics has been accused of failing to maintain speed with innovative inventive practices and for being socio-politically aloof. regardless of the endurance of those caricatures, this ebook exhibits how major pictures and topics in Adorno’s idea stay proper to the present scenario of artwork, aesthetics and politics.

The Adorno on express during this quantity was once no bourgeois mandarin, no smug aesthete, no esoteric mystic, no depression pessimist, and no educational professional holed up within the proverbial ivory tower.

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The perceived inadequacy of language to aesthetic ideas makes other thinkers, particularly the early Romantics and Schopenhauer, look for a ‘language’ which is adequate to such ideas. The language in question is, however, the conceptless language of music, to which some thinkers will even grant a higher philosophical status than to conceptual language. Although music is manifested in sensuous material, it does not necessarily represent anything and may in consequence be understood metaphorically as articulating or evoking what cannot be represented in the subject, namely the supersensuous basis of subjectivity which concepts cannot describe, where necessity and freedom are reconciled.

Whether this ‘common sense’ is a ‘constitutive principle of the possibility of experience’ or only a ‘regulative principle’, for creating ‘a common sense for higher purposes’ (B p. 68), Kant leaves open. However, he does insist that we necessarily presuppose such a norm if we wish to make valid claims about taste, because such claims depend upon a difference between mere contingent individual pleasure and what we think everyone ought to be able to agree about. As he already claimed in 1769–70: ‘Contemplation of beauty is a judgement, and not a pleasure’ (Kant 1996 p.

Kant here adverts to forms of intelligibility which scientific knowledge can never make accessible and which are fundamental to our comprehension of our own existence. Although the problems addressed here begin as epistemological ones, it is important to see how they also lead in other directions which are central to the issues of this book. Kant’s claims about organisms, for example, echo the second Critique’s concern that rational beings should always be ends in themselves, and not just the means for the ends of other beings.

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