The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)

The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)

Martin Jay

Language: English

Pages: 382

ISBN: 0520204239

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Franz Neumann, Theodor Adorno, Leo Lowenthal—the impact of the Frankfurt School on the sociological, political, and cultural thought of the twentieth century has been profound. The Dialectical Imagination is a major history of this monumental cultural and intellectual enterprise during its early years in Germany and in the United States. Martin Jay has provided a substantial new preface for this edition, in which he reflects on the continuing relevance of the work of the Frankfurt School.

















facets of musical expression: the history of classical composition, the current production of avant-garde music, the reproduction and reception of musical forms, and the composition and psychosocial function of popular music.50 In the first two issues of the Zeitschrift in 1932, he outlined the principles underlying his approach to music.51 From the beginning, Adorno made it clear that he was no ordinary musicologist. Music, he argued, contained social contradictions in its own structure,

different branches reflects the fact that the human being is cheated out of his own entity which Bergson so justly called “durée.” This is true for the heroes of biographies as well as for the masses. . . . The countertrend in mass culture is represented in escape from it. Since man’s wakeful state today is regulated in all details, the real escape is sleep or madness, or at least some kind of shortcoming and weakness. The protest against the movies is not found so much in bitter critiques but in

initial interest in their work had been aroused by a study of pessimism directed by Sanford.67 The basic irrationality of the pessimism that was studied suggested that an underlying personality trait or constellation of traits was at its root. This, of course, was the direction the Institut’s earlier findings had taken as well. Thus, with the grant from the AJC just acquired, Horkheimer was able to suggest a working relationship between the Institut and the social scientists around Sanford, who

domination for the sinister purposes of that very domination.44 Mastery in one direction might well turn in the opposite direction; the true “return” to nature was very different from fascist pseudo-naturalism. In de-emphasizing the total autonomy of man, it might be added parenthetically, Horkheimer and Adorno were being faithful to that refusal to define a positive anthropology which characterized Critical Theory from the beginning. Such a project, they seemed to be saying, implied an

university education. Kracauer’s approach combined an interest in the ideas themselves with a keen sociology of knowledge. His distrust of closed systems and his stress on the particular as opposed to the universal made a significant impression on his young friend. So too did Kracauer’s innovative explorations of such cultural phenomena as the film, which combined philosophical and sociological insights in a way that had little precedent. In later years, both in Germany and in America after both

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