This is a readable series of lectures on Kant by a man who was a genuine anti-philosopher.
As in many texts of the Frankfurt School, the Marxism is recreational. As Rolf Wiggershaus' history of the Frankfurt School indicates, Adorno and especially Horkheimer were always careful to sideline Marxist analysis. References to the "material basis" of apprehension of space and time, and of Kant's system considered historically, seem to be muted.
A key to understanding Adorno on Kant is an understanding of the negative concept of reification.
It is hard to foreground a negative concept, rigourously cancelling out invalid pictures of the world...including the image that arises from the very phrase, picture of the world, which is itself reified and not a little sad, in that the subject becomes a lonely visitor to an otherwise deserted sort of cinema on a senior citizen's discount.
The unconscious habit of reification is a feature of the "educated" elite of a postmodern late capitalism, in that in recent years and since Adorno's death in 1970, this class has shifted from reproducing itself by labor to commodifying, packaging and peddling reified forms of its labor. As opportunities for the so-called "chattering class" to work in media and government have declined in Western societies, increasingly the educated elite must marketize its production.
Of course, this process destroys new opportunities since the dominant form of any one intellectual commodity, while not identical to similar "products", has a tendency through extra-market means to eliminate competition. These extra-market means range from network externalities in the computer business to personal brutality (up to and including force and fraud) on the part of some entrepreneurs.
Nonetheless it is our responsibility to realize that here Adorno is trying to express a truth that is not (as it is pictured by incompetent, which is to say modal, professors of philosophy) at all captured by a reified IMAGE of the mind, a wall straight out of Pyramus and Thisbe (in Adorno's book, the "block"), and the Kantian things in themselves.
For Adorno, subjectivity and objectivity do not represent independent categories (this seems to be a theme of his late work.) Descartes, starting with an extreme subjectivity, felt compelled to logically derive an objective world. This while securing objectivity as far as Descartes, and perhaps his Mom, were concerned, made it in terms of an ontological pecking-order logically derived from the cogito. But the entire edifice's very danger of collapse becomes to the artisan philosopher a source of continued unease.
Adorno instead proposes a negative critique. What if subjectivity and objectivity are neither irreducible the one to the other?
It seems that for Ted, subjectivity's objective content and its synthetic apriori features are a necessary feature of subjectivity, and the continuous apprehension of an objective reality by a mininum of one subject mean that the two categories are both necessary, do not presuppose each other and form an organic unity.
Moreover, another necessary feature of subjectivity is its shareablility as opposed to dreams and other fugue states. Western philosophy has been starting with Descartes has been overly concerned with nondefault states as a sort of clever dodge and one reflects on the fondness of philosophy graduate students, during the collapse of American analytic philosophy during the 1970s, for the bottle. Recent philosophy, perhaps due to muscular feminism, has restored the default state of healthy consciousness to center stage without too much back-talk from surviving members of the analytic tribe, who are too hung-over to come up with any more clever counter-examples.
Furthermore, if we deny that we are talking about an empirical I as studied by cognitive neuroscience, dreams and fugue states automatically become of less interest. For the most part, the phenomenological world consists of me when NOT in any form of fugue state, and my fellow citizens NOT in any form of fugue state. And even if we bracket out considerations of existence the world contains history in the form of multiple generations of people passing through different stages of life.
A difference between discourse about the "I', the ego, the subject, in English-American analytic philosophy, and the way it is discussed in Kant and the philosophers after him including Adorno, is that the "I" of the latter has a normative content. An older era would say a certain amount of healthy-mindedness is found in this "I" as a necessary feature for this is the only way we can generalize this "I" so that statements about it can apply to ALL "I's."
A common feature of fugue states, from the brown study to the full-bore alcoholic toot, is the destruction, first of intersubjectivity and then subjectivity. I am well aware that it would be pernicious to merely assume healthy-mindedness and this entire area is in need of further research.
We can find transcendental arguments in the strangest places as in the case of discourse ethics, and the need for citizens (to be citizens) to be assured of minimal political and economic rights.
For example, a feature of American debates on health insurance happens to be neglect of its transcendental character. If we presuppose a political and independent sphere consisting of Lockean subjects with strong rights and responsibilities, then the physical liquidation (even though gradual, and no-one's responsibility) of these subjects because, transcendentally, our concern.
This is to arrive (I believe) at Husserl's strong protest against the accusation that Husserl was an empirical psychologist when Husserl described shared ideas.
A Continental tradition of which Adorno and Husserl are a part declares that there are, over and above the empirical contents of our minds, intersubjective concepts including ethical and artistic concepts. Husserl was not a psychologist maudit, nor was Kant a cognitive neuroscientist, because in Husserl's case Ideas could not be abstracted from the content and in Kant's case the subject's apprehension of reality was not guaranteed by an empirical nexus.
Kant's world is established by declaring victory; not so much the triumphant cry I am but the greater shout it is.
- Paperback: 250 pages
- Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr; 1 edition (1 July 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0804744262
- ISBN-13: 978-0804744263
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 499 g
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