Hegel: Three Studies (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)
Theodor W. Adorno
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This short masterwork in twentieth-century philosophy provides both a major reinterpretation of Hegel and insight into the evolution of Adorno's critical theory. The first study focuses on the relationship of reason, the individual, and society in Hegel, defending him against the criticism that he was merely an apologist for bourgeois society. The second study examines the experiential content of Hegel's idealism, considering the notion of experience in relation to immediacy, empirical reality, science, and society. The third study, "Skoteinos," is an unusual and fascinating essay in which Adorno lays out his thoughts on understanding Hegel. In his reflections, which spring from his experience teaching at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, questions of textual and philosophical interpretation are intertwined.Rescuing the truth value of Hegel's work is a recurring theme of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, and nowhere is this goal pursued with more insight than in these three studies. The core problem Adorno sets for himself is how to read Hegel in a way that comprehends both the work and its historical context, thereby allowing conclusions to be drawn that may seem on the surface to be exactly opposed to what Hegel wrote but that are, nevertheless, valid as the present truth of the work. It is the elaboration of this method of interpretation, a negative dialectic, that was Adorno's underlying goal.Adorno's efforts to salvage the contemporaneity of Hegel's thought form part of his response to the increasingly tight net of social control in the aftermath of World War II. In this, his work is related to the very different attempts to undermine reified thinking undertaken by the various French theorists. The continued development of what Adorno called "the administered world" has only increased the relevance of his efforts.
time. In unresolved opposition to the pathos of humanism, Hegel ex plicitly and implicitly orders human beings, as those who per form socially necessary labor, to subject themselves to an alien necessity. He thereby embodies, in theoretical form, the anti nomy of the universal and the particular in bourgeois society. But by formulating it ruthlessly, he makes this antinomy more intelligible than ever before and criticizes it even as he defends it. Because freedom would be the freedom of real,
it amiss when he added these words to a letter she had written to his sister: "From this you can see how happy I can be with her for all the rest of my life, and how happy the attainment of such love, for which I scarcely had any hope left in this world, is making me even now, insofar as happiness is part of the des tiny of my life." 38 The whole antiprivate Hegel is in these private words. Later, in Zarathustra, the thought in them was given a poeticized form: "Trachte ich denn nach Gluck? Ich
Now more pre cisely the third is the immediate, but the immediate resulting from sub lation of mediation, the simple resulting from sublation of difference, the positive resulting from sublation of the negative, the concept that has realized itself by means of its otherness and by the sublation of this reality has restored . . . i.ts simple relation to itself. This result is there fore the truth. It is equally immediacy and mediation; but such forms ofjudgment as: the third is immediacy and
in this volume. 1 1 . Hegel, WW 2, p. 30; Phenomenology, p. 15. 12. Ibid., p. 1 7 1 ; Phenomenology, p. 130. 13. Karl Marx, "Critique of the Gotha Program," in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert Tucker (New York: Norton, 1972), pp. 382-383. 14. Cf. Kroner, p. 404f. 15. Hegel, WW 2, p. 53 1 ; Phenomenology, p. 42 1 . 16. Cf. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W . Adprno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), pp. 25-26. 17. Hegel, WW 7, p. 3 1 9f. ; Right, pars. 245 and 246, p. 1
having an "intellectual body," says Adorno, and his philosophy too "rauscht"; it murmurs and rustles in mi mesis of the nonidentical. It is in this sense that Hegel's philos ophy is an expression of experience; philosophy is the expression of spirit, which is the negation of self in the matter at hand. It is important that this not be understood as simply a matter of sublimation or self-transcendance; the element of labor, ex ertion, and its relation to mortality is clearly present.