Adorno and the problem of philosophy
This thesis examines the problem of philosophy in the work of Theodor W. Adorno, in the context of its significance for the idea of Critical Theory and, in particular, in the light of the dominant contemporary obstacle to its revaluation: the criticism of Jürgen Habermas. The thesis attempts to provide a critical elaboration of the concept of philosophy as it is indicated by Adorno, in order to demonstrate its coherence and value as a modem critical discipline, with a continuing and decisive importance for the project of Critical Theory. Chapter 1 introduces the problem of philosophy in Adorno, through demonstrating how Habermas's criticism fails to recognise the precise character of Adorno's engagement with philosophy, and thereby mis-recognises its significance for Critical Theory. Chapter 2 introduces the reassessment of the idea of philosophy in Adorno through an elaboration of the interpretative demands it imposes, revealing its relation to a discourse of metaphilosophy. It elaborates the self-reflective constitution of philosophy. as a form of interpretation which the concept of philosophy is itself subject to, with particular attention to the interpretation of philosophy's obsolescence and need. Chapter 3 elaborates Adorno's understanding of the paradoxical relation of philosophy to the division of labour as a 'non-specialist specialism'. It discerns its relation to a set of non-philosophical practices, as dialectical relations of anti-philosophy; and elaborates Adorno's expansive, but critical concept of philosophy as what, after Kant, may be called a 'world-concept of philosophising'. Chapter 4 examines the presentation of philosophy in Adorno, elaborating its linguistic medium as it is articulated through the relation of dialectical concepts to their sign and image qualities; and the novel non-dogmatic forms Adorno developed following the French Encyclopaedists, Kant, early German Romanticism and Benjamin. Chapter 5 analyses the peculiar speculative form of Adorno's dialectical concept of philosophy. It demonstrates its relation to the three speculative philosophies most influential to him - those of Kant, Hegel and Benjamin - and examines the conception of metaphysics it generates. Chapter 6 examines the form of time consciousness that philosophy was to be for Adorno. It elaborates his idea of natural history as an alternative to Hegel's historical conception of philosophy and the critical relation to Benjamin's historiography of truth that informs it. This is developed in relation to its illuminating allusions to Freudian the historical interpretation of semblance as an interpretation of truth.