The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno (European Perspectives)
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"The Melancholy Science" is Gillian Rose s investigation into TheodorAdorno s work and legacy. Rose uncovers the unity discernableamong the many fragments of Adorno s oeuvre, and argues that hisinfluence has been to turn Marxism into a search for style.
The attempts of Adorno, Lukacs and Benjamin to develop a Marxisttheory of culture centred on the concept of reification are contrasted, and the ways in which the concept of reification has come to bemisused are exposed. Adorno s continuation for his own time ofthe Marxist critique of philosophy is traced through his writings onHegel, Kierkegaard, Husserl and Heidegger. His opposition to theseparation of philosophy and sociology is shown by examination ofhis critique of Durkheim and Weber, and of his contributions to thedispute over positivism, his critique of empirical social research andhis own empirical sociology.
Gillian Rose shows Adorno s most important contribution to be hisfounding of a Marxist aesthetic that offers a sociology of culture, asdemonstrated in his essays on Kafka, Mann, Beckett, Brecht andSchonberg. Finally, Adorno s Melancholy Science is revealed tooffer a sociology of illusion that rivals both structural Marxism andphenomenological sociology as well as the subsequent work of theFrankfurt School."
only because human labour in the abstract has been embodied or materialised in it’.169 In capitalist society a concept such as (exchange) value can only appear in that form. Reified concepts describe social phenomena, the appearance of society, as if it has the properties to which the concepts refer. As this elaboration of Adorno’s theory of reification indicates, the theory is grounded in Marx’s theory of value in a highly selective fashion. It does not mobilise Marx’s distinction between
to them an original twist. Two of the three parts of Adorno’s book on Hegel are concerned with how to read Hegel’s texts, especially the Phenomenology of Mind and the (greater) Logic. One of these parts is entitled Skoteinos oder Wie zu lesen sei.27 Skoteinos is a Greek word which means ‘dark, dusky, obscure or blind’. Oder wie zu lesen sei means ‘or how to read’. Another part is entitled Erfahrungsgehalt28 which means ‘the substance of experience’, and it equally concerns the way in which
according to the methods of natural science (as ‘a piece of nature [ein Stück Natur]’19) to a substantive theory of man as a species in a Marxian sense. ‘Perpetuating the blind spontaneity [or growth] of nature’ refers to the underlying processes of production and reproduction by which a society maintains itself, and which may make a specific social formation appear to be ‘a piece of nature’, ‘second nature’. These processes would be more fully obscured by a sociology which opts for an
faction headed by Hans Pfitzner. From the early twenties there had been a dispute over methodology, a Methodenstreit, as it were, between the schools. Schönberg’s pupil, Berg, replied in Der Anbruch to Pfitzner’s tirades against ‘the new aesthetic’ and against the possibility of intellectual and sociological analysis of music.22 Adorno always associated himself with the school of new music, with creating and defining the new idiom as composer and as critic. Adorno’s writings on music and on
1976) p. 128. 4. ‘Notes on Wagner’, op. cit., p. 202. 5. But see Lee Baxandell and Stefan Morawski (eds.), Marx and Engels on Literature and Art (New York: International General, 1974). 6. Cf. Steven Lukes, ‘Alienation and Anomie’, in P. Laslett and W. G. Runciman (eds), Philosophy, Politics and Society (Oxford University Press, 1967) Series 111, 134–56. 7. Mitzman, The Iron Cage, p. 4, note. 8. Ibid. 9. See Heinrich Popitz, Der Entfremdete Mensch, Zeitkritik und Geschichtsphilosophie des