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Adorno on Politics after Auschwitz by Gary A. Mullen

By Gary A. Mullen

Within the minds of many severe theorists, Theodor W. Adorno epitomizes the failure of severe thought to supply any concrete information for political perform. His identify is nearly synonymous with the retreat of the revolutionary highbrow from the creeping totalitarianism of up to date mass democracy. This booklet endeavors to disrupt this false impression by way of providing an in depth analyzing of Adorno’s philosophical war of words with the Holocaust and the fashionable conceptions of background, morality and subjectivity which are complicit in genocide. by means of rethinking the connection among cause and remembrance, morality and materiality, mimesis and political violence, Adorno’s paintings deals not just incisive feedback of recent political principles and associations, it additionally exhibits us intimations of a special political practice.

“Gary Mullen supplies a lively security of Adorno’s oft-maligned try and deliver serious idea to endure at the background of ecu domination. by means of getting to the eschatological deep constitution of Adorno’s philosophical venture, Mullen deftly counters the preferred interpretation of Adorno as a lapsed (and might be jaded) champion of cause and enlightenment. As portrayed via Mullen, in truth, Adorno is correctly understood as calling for an intensification of the venture of eu enlightenment and as directing the severe energy of cause towards the particularity of human ache. As Mullen ably demonstrates, the normative strength of Adorno’s contribution to severe conception derives from his candid war of words with the Holocaust, which, Adorno believed, obliges us to re-think the character and buy of political judgment. this can be a magnificent, pressing, and deeply humane booklet. Adorno on Politics could be a precious source for college students and students alike.” —Daniel Conway, Texas A&M college

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175 58. Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, p. 104. 59. , p. 103. 60. , p. 103. THREE Mimesis and Political Violence THE OBJECTIVE CONSTITUTION OF THE SUBJECT The Dialectic of Enlightenment traces the horrors of totalitarianism back to the structural flaws in the project of modernity, with a great deal of emphasis given to the ethical and political dimensions of this predicament. The closure of the subject toward its own nature, its materiality, desires and feelings is not simply a closure. The material dimension of the subject, and the hopes to which this dimension gives rise, are assaulted as the enemy of rationality and a threat to self-preservation.

In his book on the genocide in Rwanda, Philip Gourevitch tells of his exchange with a pygmy soldier which could serve as an emblem of how this enlightenment idea has come full circle: “Humanity’s struggle to conquer nature,” the pygmy said fondly. “It is the only hope. ” He sat back in his chair, with his arms crossed over his chest, and went silent. ” “Exactly,” the pygmy said. ” 8 The way in which the domination of nature makes its way into the structure of the subject can be seen in the dualisms of modern philosophy.

48 Freedom, particularity, the “I” that gives an account of itself is not autonomous in the face of the social norms that are the very conditions for selfhood. Adorno and Butler both reject the notion that freedom is something we possess. We know it only through its vulnerability to loss. ” 49 There is no criterion that would enable the subject to autonomously take possession of the social norms out of which it is woven, and thereby lend them legitimacy and justify their violence. Adorno conceives of freedom as grounded in heteronomy.

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