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    Rights statement: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, British Journal for the Hisotry of Philosophy, 22 (6), 2014, © Informa Plc

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Adorno, Hegel and dialectic

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Issue number6
Volume22
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)1118-1141
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/10/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This article explores critical theory's relations to German idealism by clarifying how Adorno's thought relates to Hegel's. Adorno's apparently mixed responses to Hegel centre on the dialectic and actually form a coherent whole. In his Logic, Hegel outlines the dialectical process by which categories – fundamental forms of thought and reality – necessarily follow one another in three stages: abstraction, dialectic proper, and the speculative (famously simplified as ‘thesis, antithesis, synthesis’). Adorno's allegiance to Hegel's dialectic emerges when he traces the dialectical process whereby enlightenment reverts to myth and human domination over nature reverts into our domination by nature. However, Adorno criticizes Hegel's dialectic as the ultimate form of ‘identity thinking’, subsuming unique, material objects under universal concepts by using dialectical reason to expand those concepts to cover objects utterly. These two responses cohere because Adorno shares Hegel's view that dialectical contradictions require reconciliation, but differs from Hegel on the nature of reconciliation. For Hegel, reconciliation unites differences into a whole; for Adorno, reconciled differences co-exist as differences. Finally, against Habermas who holds that Adorno cannot consistently criticize the enlightenment practice of critique, I show that Adorno can do so consistently because of how he reshapes Hegelian dialectic.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, British Journal for the Hisotry of Philosophy, 22 (6), 2014, © Informa Plc