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Title: Adorno's Critique of Kant's Practical Philosophy
Author: Jutten, Timo
ISNI:       0000 0001 3593 6691
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines Adorno's critique of Kant's practical philosophy, as it is developed in Negative Dialectics and in Adorno's published lectures. Its starting point is the conviction that Adorno's Kant critique is best understood as a critique of conceptual reification. According to Adorno, Kant reifies the foundational concepts of his practical philosophy and thereby elides their historically specific and socially contested character. The thesis begins with an elaboration ofAdorno's critique of conceptual reification, which it will apply to the foundational concepts of Kant's practical philosophy. In the second chapter it focuses on Kant's 'rescuing urge'. It argues that Kant's philosophy is motivated by the urge to save the achievements of the rationalist philosophical tradition from the onslaught of philosophical scepticism, scientific progress and sociopolitical change. It concludes that Kant achieves this salvation in part, but only at the cost of rendering concepts such as freedom so abstract and thing-like that their mediation with empirical reality becomes impqssible. In the next three chapters the thesis discusses Kant's resolution of the antinomy of freedom and determinism, his moral psychology (focusing on Kant's conception of the will) and his account of the good and the phenomenology of moral judgment. It concludes that in all these cases conceptual reification undermines the force of Kant's thought. The thesis contrasts two important concepts of Kant's practical philosophy: rational agency and maturity (Miindigkeit). Adorno is very critical of Kant's philosophy, because it imbues rational agency with unconditional value. On Adorno's analysis, rational agency is conceptually reified in modern capitalist societies. Its hypostatisation establishes a standard of self-determination, which most people fail to achieve. It is damaging to those who cannot. The thesis concludes with the suggestion that Adorno finds in maturity a more suitable concept for the elaboration of an ethics of resistance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available