Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
Theodor W. Adorno
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Kant is a pivotal thinker in Adorno’s intellectual world. Although he wrote monographs on Hegel, Husserl, and Kierkegaard, the closest Adorno came to an extended discussion of Kant are two lecture courses, one concentrating on the Critique of Pure Reason and the other on the Critique of Practical Reason. This volume by Adorno comprises his lectures on the former.
Adorno attempts to make Kant’s thought comprehensible to students by focusing on what he regards as problematic aspects of Kant’s philosophy. Adorno examines Kant’s dualism and what he calls the Kantian “block”: the contradictions arising from Kant’s resistance to the idealism that his successors—Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel—saw as the inevitable outcome of his ideas. These lectures also provide an accessible introduction to and rationale for Adorno’s own philosophy as expounded in Negative Dialectics and his other major writings. Adorno’s view of Kant forms an integral part of his own philosophy, since he argues that the way out of the Kantian contradictions is to show the necessity of the dialectical thinking that Kant himself spurned. This in turn enables Adorno to criticize Anglo-Saxon scientistic or positivist thought, as well as the philosophy of existentialism.
This book will be of great interest to those working in philosophy and in social and political thought, and it will be essential reading for anyone interested in the foundations of Adorno’s own work.
Ideas or Kant with his synthetic a priori judgements, or rather with his notion of original apperception, or whether we are thinking of Heidegger, who has made an absolute of the concept of origin and turned it into a metaphysical entity. I only want to make sure that you understand that an extremely intractable problem emerges at this point which we may regard as the natural starting-point of Kant's critique of reason. The difficulty is that we can never be certain whether this reductive urge to
everything that is not completely transparent and self-evident. I should like to say that the programme of Enlightenment shares this feature with the entire movement of modern Western thought. If, for example, you read the demands made by Descartes in the Discours de Ia Methode, you will discover that one of his most essential requirements is that we should not accept any assertions that are not clear and distinct. 5 But we can probably say that Kant's critique of reason was the first to take
whether this doctrine of apprehension can be reconciled with modern Gestalt theory. Modern Gestalt theory would repudiate the idea of the fragmentation, of the chaotic nature of individual sensory data, and would claim that I perceive these fragmentary elements as a unity from the outset. In this respect it stands in apparent contradiction to the Critique of Pure Reason. I believe, however - if I may make these comments for those of you who are interested in the psychology of knowledge that the
With the growth of subjectivity there is a corresponding growth of reification because thanks to this process of subjectivization the poles of knowledge are drawn further and further apart. To put it another way, the more that is inserted into the subject, the more the subject comes to constitute knowledge as such, then the more that determining factors are withdrawn from the object, and the more the two realms diverge. Instead of looking for this in Kant, you can see it much more easily in its
realities. My aim was not only to demonstrate to you the impossibility of an epistemological sociologism, but also to show you that the question of which comes first - actual existence or formal category - is misguided. That is to say, these different elements simply cannot be separated from one another; and that this is the case points ultimately to the fact that their apparent existence as separate entities is itself the product of the reflecting mind rather than something that can be ascribed