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Title: The historical negation of aesthetic categories : Adorno's inheritance of Kant's critique of judgment
Author: Kaushall, Justin N.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 4123
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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In this thesis I argue that philosophy must reflect on historical experience, and must even consider itself a mode of such experience, if it is to remain materially grounded. Adorno's enigmatic formula in Aesthetic Theory-that philosophy requires art, and that art requires philosophy-ought to be interpreted in the following manner: since art expresses history in sedimented aesthetic form, philosophy requires artworks in order to access the material conditions that ground its own reflective activity; and, conversely, since historical sedimentation may only be made critically available through philosophical theorizing, art requires philosophy, so that tradition's potential for new directions may be rescued from its conservative and regressive tendencies. In order to investigate these issues, I argue also that Adorno's aesthetic thought is indebted to Kant's third Critique. Specifically, many Kantian aesthetic categories are present in Adorno's Aesthetic Theory. Their presence, however, is qualified, because Adorno employs Hegelian determinate negation to critically examine traditional concepts. In this way, Adorno retrieves and reinvigorates the tradition of philosophical aesthetics while critically interrogating the assumptions and principles present in Kantian concepts that must be revised, transformed, and altered, not least in light of the catastrophe of twentieth century history. Kant's categories, while emerging from the contradictions of their era, fail to meet the demands placed on them by modern experience; Adorno's revised categories are needed in order to address the historical-social situation of modernity. Many scholars and commentators have analyzed the philosophical and aesthetic legacy that Adorno inherits from Kant. For example, Tom Huhn argues that the Kantian aesthetic object is necessarily opaque, or blind to the historical and social content that lies within it. Gene Ray argues that the category of the sublime needs to be historicized in light of the Nazi genocide. Murray Skees discusses the difference between Kant's concept of autonomy and Adorno's. Joel Whitebook addresses the dual influences of Freud and Kant on Adorno; he argues that the synthesis of the diffuse, in order to construct a coherent self, always leads to violence. Tracey Stark argues that Adorno seeks to rehabilitate Kantian reflective judgment in his aesthetics. Thierry de Duve argues that Adorno misreads Kantian categories through a Hegelian lens, and that his concept of reconciliation is incoherent. Peter Uwe Hohendahl discusses Adorno's critique of Kant's subjectivism and reviews Adorno's reception of several categories in the third Critique: aesthetic autonomy, natural beauty, the sublime, and the transcendental subject. Anthony Cascardi argues that Kant's concept of aesthetic reflective judgment preserves qualitative particularity in the subject's feeling, which cannot be fully captured in discursive concepts; thus, he tries to redeem Kant's concept for Adorno's aesthetics. Ross Wilson claims that Adorno rehabilitates Kant's model of dialectical aesthetic experience, in which the subject tries to rescue objectivity through subjective mediation. David Roberts discusses the Kantian sublime in terms of shock, which allows repressed nature to speak, and which briefly releases the subject from her imprisonment. Brian O'Connor provides an incisive and detailed examination how Kantian and Hegelian concepts and principles compose and organize Negative Dialectics. Jay Bernstein provides an in depth and brilliant reading of various Kantian categories and their role in forming and grounding Adorno's Aesthetic Theory. Espen Hammer argues that Adorno's aesthetic and social theory is a unique response to modernity, and the crises that arise in it; he analyses Adorno's debt to the aesthetics and metaphysics of Kant and Hegel. Kalliopi Nikolopoulou analyses Kant's concept of sensus communis and applies it to the social nature of poetic language. Wilhelm S. Wurzer analyses how Adorno criticizes the Kantian transcendental subject and argues that, for Adorno, the Kantian imagination is the realm of nature. Finally, Surti Singh argues, against Albrecht Wellmer, that Adorno's concept of the shudder is cognitive rather than emotional, and that the shudder, contrary to the Kantian sublime, reveals the finite materiality of the subject, rather than spiritually transcending it. In the course of the thesis I seek to answer three main questions: Does Adorno engage with Kantian categories in Aesthetic Theory? Why should we accept Adorno's discovery that art requires philosophy, and that philosophy requires art? And, why should we accept Adorno's aesthetic categories as grounded in historical experience, and Kant's aesthetic categories as incapable of responding to such experience? My own goals consist in shedding light on Adorno's inheritance of Kant's third Critique, which has not been comprehensively researched; analyzing certain categories in Aesthetic Theory that have only been partially examined by other scholars; demonstrating a unique reading of Adorno's concept of interpretation that fits in with the trajectory of his philosophy as a whole; articulating a reading of Adorno's thesis that art requires philosophy, and that philosophy requires art; and, finally, arguing that philosophy must excavate, and reflect on, historical experience if philosophy is to remain critical, and if it is to avoid succumbing to conservative convention, or the mere reproduction of ideology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BH Aesthetics