Fr. 95.00

Introduction to Dialectics

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This volume comprises Adorno's first lectures specifically dedicated to the subject of the dialectic, a concept which has been key to philosophical debate since classical times. While discussing connections with Plato and Kant, Adorno concentrates on the most systematic development of the dialectic in Hegel's philosophy, and its relationship to Marx, as well as elaborating his own conception of dialectical thinking as a critical response to this tradition.Delivered in the summer semester of 1958, these lectures allow Adorno to explore and probe the significant difficulties and challenges this way of thinking posed within the cultural and intellectual context of the post-war period. In this connection he develops the thesis of a complementary relationship between positivist or functionalist approaches, particularly in the social sciences, as well as calling for the renewal of ontological and metaphysical modes of thought which attempt to transcend the abstractness of modern social experience by appeal to regressive philosophical categories. While providing an account of many central themes of Hegelian thought, he also alludes to a whole range of other philosophical, literary and artistic figures of central importance to his conception of critical theory, notably Walter Benjamin and the idea of a constellation of concepts as the model for an 'open or fractured dialectic' beyond the constraints of method and system.These lectures are seasoned with lively anecdotes and personal recollections which allow the reader to glimpse what has been described as the 'workshop' of Adorno's thought. As such, they provide an ideal entry point for all students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences who are interested in Adorno's work as well as those seeking to understand the nature of dialectical thinking.

List of contents

Editor's ForewordLECTURE ONEPrejudices against the dialecticthe double character of the dialecticthe dialectic as method of articulating the Ideas (Plato)the order of concepts expresses the order of thingsthe vital nerve of the dialecticthe dialectic as necessary 'exaggeration'the positivist element of the dialecticLECTURE TWO'The movement of the concept' (Hegel)the dialectic hypostasizes the identity of thought and beingHegel's dialectic as the union of identity and non-identitynon-identity in the process, identity in the resultintroduction to the dialectic as a model of dialecticthe movement of the concept is not sophisticalthe movement of the concept as the path of philosophical sciencethe object of knowledge is internally dynamicthe movement of the object is not arbitrarythe metaphysical concept of truththe inevitable reification of truthhistorical movement is not the movement of being but is concretethe dialectic is not a philosophy of foundationsthe temporal core of dialecticLECTURE THREECritique of prima philosophiamatter no first principle eitherHegel's dialectic also a preservation of first philosophyall determination implies mediationthe movement of the concept is no external contribution of thoughta sophistical displacement of meaning in Gehlenthe whole is the true solely as the result of all mediations ? the idea of an open dialecticthe whole is neither a pantheistic totality of nature nor a seamless unity'the truth is essentially result'individual phenomena only intelligible in terms of the wholerecourse to the whole is mediated through the self-movement of the individualthe concept of the whole as already givenLECTURE FOURThe traditional concept of system: derivation of the whole from one fundamental principlethe dialectical concept of systemdeterminate negationcontradiction in Kantcontradiction in Hegelantithesis arises from thesisthe measure of the absolute lies in objectivitydialectical criticism is necessarily immanentrefutation of a thought as development of the thoughtthe emergent absolute is essentially temporalthe interaction of theory and practicethe truth as result is concreteLECTURE FIVEThe charge of universal rationalizationdialectical thought is not rationalistic thoughtthe dispute over rationalismconceptual thought is indispensablethe truth moment of irrationalismthe irrational as a moment of ratiosuffering and happiness are immanent to thoughtbeing in itself, being for itself, being in and for itselfrelationship of thesis, antithesis, synthesisdialectical method concerns the contradictory life of the objectthe dialectic not immune to ideological abuseLECTURE SIXDialectical method not a formal conceptual schemathe objectivation of truthevery true thought becomes untrue once it is isolatedthe triadic schema irrelevant in Hegelthe charge of universalizing contradictioncontradiction is not a first principleHegel's critique of Kant's transcendental dialecticLECTURE SEVENHegel's dialectical principle of development is a principle of real beingdialectic in Kant is only the negative side of the critique of reasonthe positive moment of the critique of reasonreflection as the principle of the speculative self-knowledge of reasonknowledge of knowledge also the principle of substantive knowledgedialectic and formal logic - the 'example' in Hegellogical form of the judgement and the 'emphatic concept'dialectical contradiction expresses the disparity of thought and worldLECTURE EIGHTDialectic names the negative state of the world by its proper namecontradiction not only in thought, but is objectivecontradiction as principle of diremption is also the principle of unitydialectic as union of the a priori and experiencethe objective order of the world also conceptual in charactercoercive character of dialectic - the systematic claim of dialecticdialectical contradiction in Hegel's political philosophydialectical system not a seamless deductive structurethe concept of experience in HegelLECTURE NINEThe paradoxical task of knowledge: identifying the non-identicalidentity of thought and being (Hegel)non-identity and contradiction not resolvable in thought (Marx)the materialist priority of being over consciousness is problematicthe whole and the parts presuppose one anotherthe materialist critique of literature cannot proceed from unmediated instances of particular experience (Benjamin)dialectical materialism is not vulgar materialismthe charge of metaphysically hypostasizing the totality (Weber)LECTURE TENKnowledge of the social whole precedes individual experienceprior awareness of the whole not unique to human beingsrejection of Hegel's attempted restoration of immediate experiencethe congruence of whole and parts as result of a processintuition - theory neither static nor completethe danger of a dogmatic ossification of dialectic (Lukács)tracing knowledge back to origins is undialecticasurvival of obsolete philosophical notions in the individual sciencesLECTURE ELEVENTerminological remarks on the concept of roleneither whole nor part enjoys priority over the othermetaphysics as science of the ultimate groundorigin as merel beginning (Hegel)the ontological appropriation of Hegel'abstract' in Hegelthe dialectic not a dynamic ontology'being' in Hegelphilosophy of immediacy as regress to mythologydialectic and positivismthe 'natural' appearance of a reified worldLECTURE TWELVEAffinity between dialectic and positivismthe constitutive distinction of essence and appearancedialectic exposes the apparent immediacy of ultimate givensthe Darmstadt investigation - motivational analysis in industrial sociologyopinion research, empirical and criticaltransition from positivism to dialecticcontradiction in the given as the principle of dialectical movementECTURE THIRTEENScientific method in Descartesrationalism as the will to control naturethe postulate of self-evidence (Descartes)a hermeneutic interventionself-evidence as a form of ultimate metaphysical groundingevidence of sense-perception already mediatedthe order of knowing, the order of the knownexperience and conceptualityemphasis on analysis destroys the crucial interest of knowingphilosophy of nature and natural sciencephilosophy always bound to the material knowledge of the sciencesLECTURE FOURTEENAnalysis alone yields no knowledgethe universal concretized through the particularattitude of dialectic to the concept of developmentthe family not merely a remnantsociety not an organism, but antagonistic in characterknowledge as a continuity of stepsthe unity of society constituted by discontinuitythe presumption of continuity is merely affirmative'enthusiasm' a necessary moment of knowledgethe positive aspect of continuityLECTURE FIFTEENThe coercive character of logicimmanent and transcendent critiquemobility of thought is not an evasioncontradictions are constitutiveagainst relativismdialectical cognition of the particular object requires explicit self-reflectionthe charge of groundlessnessa sociological excursus on the mobility of thoughtthe substance of philosophy lies in the vital source of its conceptsarrested movement in Heraclitus and HegelLECTURE SIXTEENThe dogmatic character of the axiom of completenessthe fulfilment of this demand in German Idealismdialectical clarification of the objective by recourse to models'ideal types' in Weber'intuition of essences' in Husserlthinking in modelslabyrinthine communication in literary works (Kafka, Balzac, von Doderer)historical transformations in the concept of systemLECTURE SEVENTEENConsciousness as unifying principle in the modern conception of systemcritique and renewal of the concept of system in 19th centurycontemporary appeal of the concept of systemthe spectral afterlife of the concept of systemthe need for system and the closed experience of the worldno categorical continuum amongst the particular sciences (Talcott Parsons)apologetic character of the functionalist concept of system - 'frame of reference'the logic of science and debased metaphysics complement one another todaydialectic a beneficent anachronismLECTURE EIGHTEENDichotomous consciousnessdialectical mediation not a matter of Both/Andmediation as the critical self-reflection of extremesrole of Either/Or in the social sciencesdialectic and the negative concept of truthvalues are neither transcendent nor merely relativethe criterion of truth is immanent to the objectthe dialectic is not a matter of 'standpoints'dialectic furnishes no recipesdefinition as logical formLECTURE NINETEENThe limits of deixis and definition with respect to the conceptthe concept is not a tabula rasa - concept and constellationlife and fluidity of the concept as the object of dialecticverbal definitions and philosophical definitionsphilosophical definition requires prior knowledge of the matter in questionit extends concepts into force fieldsabbreviation as specific feature of philosophical definitionoperational definitions in the particular sciencesforfeiting the synthetic moment of knowledgeoperational definitions and their field of applicationdialectic as a critical mediation of realism and nominalismtruth moment of the phenomenological analysis of meaningLECTURE TWENTYDialectical articulation of concepts as constellation and configurationthe order of ideas in Plato as an expression of the social division of labourthe exposition of the matter in question not externalexposition guarantees the objectivity of knowledgecontradiction in the identifying judgement as starting point of dialectictruth and untruth of the logical judgement formsubjective synthesis and objective reference in the judgementan immanent critique of logic - the phenomenological critique of inferencesurrender of logical subordination as index of dialectical thoughtis knowledge possible without assuming the identity of subject and object?Adorno's Lecture NotesAbbreviationsEditor's NotesIndex

About the author










Theodor Adorno (1903-1969), a prominent member of the Frankfurt School, was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century in the areas of social theory, philosophy and aesthetics.

Summary

This volume comprises Adorno's first lectures specifically dedicated to the subject of the dialectic, a concept which has been key to philosophical debate since classical times. While discussing connections with Plato and Kant, Adorno concentrates on the most systematic development of the dialectic in Hegel's philosophy, and its relationship to Marx, as well as elaborating his own conception of dialectical thinking as a critical response to this tradition.

Delivered in the summer semester of 1958, these lectures allow Adorno to explore and probe the significant difficulties and challenges this way of thinking posed within the cultural and intellectual context of the post-war period. In this connection he develops the thesis of a complementary relationship between positivist or functionalist approaches, particularly in the social sciences, as well as calling for the renewal of ontological and metaphysical modes of thought which attempt to transcend the abstractness of modern social experience by appeal to regressive philosophical categories. While providing an account of many central themes of Hegelian thought, he also alludes to a whole range of other philosophical, literary and artistic figures of central importance to his conception of critical theory, notably Walter Benjamin and the idea of a constellation of concepts as the model for an 'open or fractured dialectic' beyond the constraints of method and system.

These lectures are seasoned with lively anecdotes and personal recollections which allow the reader to glimpse what has been described as the 'workshop' of Adorno's thought. As such, they provide an ideal entry point for all students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences who are interested in Adorno's work as well as those seeking to understand the nature of dialectical thinking.

Report

"Despite Adorno's abiding suspicion of easy communicability, he was fully capable of explaining complex ideas lucidly and accessibly, never more so than in the lecture hall. There can be few concepts that demand as much careful exposition as 'dialectics,' whose multiple uses and frequent abuses have frustrated countless attempts to render it comprehensible. Still fewer exponents of dialectical thought have been as skilled in unpacking its meaning, while at the same time performatively demonstrating its virtues, as Adorno."Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley"The twenty lectures that Adorno held in 1958 constitute the first comprehensive articulation of his thinking. The challenge to which he responds is that of wresting conceptual thinking from its narcissistic tendencies, as outlined in Dialectics of Enlightenment. 'Suffering and Happiness,' he insists, must be recognized as 'the immanent substance of dialectics'. Adorno's effort to turn thinking inside-out by revealing the affective origin of its transformative potential, remains his most enduring legacy."Samuel Weber, Northwestern University

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