Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) by Alex Thomson

By Alex Thomson

Probably the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20 th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can usually appear imprecise and impenetrable, rather for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A consultant for the confused is an interesting and available account of his concept that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and those that have struggled to make headway together with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: basically written, accomplished and particularly excited about simply what makes Adorno tough to learn and comprehend.


“'Alex Thompson's ebook not just illuminates Adorno's most vital principles, it makes an unique contribution to modern social theory... The ebook could be of serious clarificatory use for undergraduates, and may supply a lot stimulus to postgraduates and teachers as well.' Darrow Schecter, collage of Sussex”

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Extra resources for Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)

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An over-emphasis on Adorno's exile ignores the most difficult political decision of his life. What distinguishes Adorno and Horkheimer from almost all their other friends and colleagues who 31 ADORNO: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED had been forced to flee to the United States is the simple fact of their return to Europe. Herbert Marcuse, Siegfried Kracauer, and many other figures closely or loosely associated with the Institute for Social Research, never made it back. Nor did other well-known intellectuals such as Hannah Arendt.

Adorno found it hard to produce what in the deadening jargon of managerial academia would now be called 'research outputs'. With the help of an editorial assistant, George Simpson, to whom Adorno offers a generous tribute (CM 225-6), he produced four essays: A Social Critique of Radio Music'; 'On Popular Music', now one of his most well-known texts; an Analytical Study of the NBC Music Appreciation Hour9; and The Radio Symphony'. However, only the last of these was judged suitable by Lazarsfeld for publication under the auspices of the Princeton project, although 'On Popular Music' was published in the Institute's journal in 1941.

This position leads to the strange and uncanny ambivalence of Adorno's cultural criticism which contributes so much to its difficulty for the reader. It is often hard to locate Adorno's argument because he does not take a single position but juxtaposes two or more. The essay titled simply 'Cultural Criticism and Society', which stands at the beginning of his collection Prisms, suggesting that it might serve as a manifesto for the essays on particular topics within the book, is typically ambiguous.

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