Negative Dialectics by Theodor W. Adorno

By Theodor W. Adorno

The significant paintings and Adorno's culminating fulfillment. unfavorable Dialectics is a critique of the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger, and a visionary elaboration of the author's personal imaginative and prescient of dialectics.

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The very dissociation fastens it to that which it is not. It removes the illusion of the autarky of thought. The falsehood of an unleashed rationality running away from itself, the recoil of enlightenment into mythology, is rationally definable. To think means to think something. By itself, the logically abstract form of "something," something that is meant or judged, does not claim to posit a being; and yet, surviving in it—indelible for a thinking that would delete it—is that which is not identical with thinking, which is not thinking at all.

The antinomy of totality and infinity—for the restless ad infinitum explodes the self-contained system, for all its being owed to infinity alone—is of the essence of idealism. It imitates a central antinomy of bourgeois society. 9 It has been demonstrated to bourgeois society that it would no sooner reach a ceiling, would no sooner cease to have noncapitalist areas available outside itself, than its own concept would force its self-liquidation. This makes clear why, Aristotle notwithstanding, the modern concept of dynamics was inappropriate to Antiquity, as was the concept of the system.

That the concept is a concept even when dealing with things in being does not change the fact that on its part it is entwined with a nonconceptual whole. Its only insulation from that whole is its reification—that which establishes it as a concept. The concept is an element in dialectical logic, like any other. What survives in it is the fact that nonconceptuality has conveyed it by way of its meaning, which in turn establishes its conceptuality. To refer to nonconceptualities—as ultimately, according to traditional epistemology, every definition of concepts requires nonconceptual, deictic elements—is characteristic of the concept, and so is the contrary: that as the abstract unit of the noumena subsumed thereunder it will depart from the noumenal.

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