Adorno's Concept of Life (Bloomsbury Studies in Continental Philosophy)
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In this important and engaging new book, Alastair Morgan offers a detailed examination of the concept of life in Adorno's philosophy. He relates Adorno's thought in this context to a number of key thinkers in the history of Continental philosophy, including Marx, Hegel, Heidegger and Agamben, and provides an argument for the relevance and importance of Adorno's critical philosophy of life at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Crucially, Morgan offers a new framework for understanding the relation between concepts of life and a critical philosophy.
The concept of life has previously received little attention in Adorno scholarship. However it is a constant theme and problem running throughout Adorno's work, from his early critiques of life-philosophies to his late philosophy of metaphysical experience as the possibility of life. The idea that Adorno's philosophy is in need of or lacking in a fundamental ontology has been the subject of a great deal of critical attention, but this has rarely been examined through an analysis of the concept of life. Furthermore, philosophies of life have seen a resurgence in recent years (particularly with a renewed interest in Bergson's philosophy via the critical reception of Deleuze's philosophy).
Adorno's Concept of Life is a necessary and timely study that offers a distinctive interpretation of Adorno's philosophy, and will be of central interest to anyone working on Adorno. Furthermore, it provides a powerful interpretation of the critical force of Adorno's philosophy, that will contribute to the renewed interest in the concept of life within contemporary philosophy.
happiness. Bernstein characterizes this separation between inner and outer as a pplied to mechanisms of repression in the following way: 'The fundamental conceptual error of the simple instinctual renunciation story is that, despite itself, it assumes a fundamental separation between nature and culture, as if inner nature was a qualitatively and quantitatively given ... ,32 This is what Whitebrook, in his book Perversion and Utopia, has referred to as 'this Rousseauean figure ofthought' that is
oftemporality and continuities of chronological time and personal identity over time. There is a sense of this experience in Heidegger's account of an authentic appropriation of certain fundamental moods which open up the possibility of the experience of different forms of 34 Adorno's Concept ofLijè temporality as a projection into the future. One could also think of the Bergsonian concept of durée as an access to a different and deeper relation of lived experience. Benjamin was particularly
we will examine in the next cha pter. The second avenue for investigation is the question of affectivity itself, or, to be more precise, a fundamerttal affectivity that returns or demands an ethical response within reified life. How are we to think this affectivity as both an unwilled spontaneity and as something conceptually mediated? How are we to think the temporal existence of such an affective comportment towards objectivity? Adorno variously writes of it as a return from the past, or as
is the ineliminable moment of nature within the subject itself, the body of the subject. For Adorno, selfreflection will ultimately be a reflection on the natural within the subject, and therefore the subject cannot be configured as an empty law-giverfor the natural (Kant) or a projection of empty desire for recognition (the Hegel of the Phenomenology ofSpirit) . Adorno wants to retain the Hegelian account of an experience of consciousness that moves beyond itself through the experience of its
through the lack of an expected disappointment. One would expect an experience of disappointment, because the place actually visited does not fulfil the promise of the place-name. \"'hat is peculiar about Adorno's description of the place-name is this model ofa lack of disappointment. Why is disappointment not experienced wh en the hopes invested in the place-name do not actualize themselves on the longed-for visit? What returns unwilled in this lack of disappointment must be something