Language and History in Adorno's Notes to Literature (Studies in Philosophy)

By Ulrich Plass

Plass argues that Adorno’s essays on literature are of prime importance for an knowing of his aesthetics simply because they problem the conceptual obstacles of philosophical discourse.

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Adorno’s Notes to Literature tradition and, for that reason, has to be precise. Adorno rejects such a presumption via bearing on the irreversible totality of mediations: background is the innovative flow clear of nature and into society and “second nature” (see bankruptcy 2). To imagine traditionally doesn't suggest to return to nature (such an try necessarily finally ends up blindly repeating the stream into society), yet relatively to hunt the strains of historical past accurately the place philosophy has been least prepared to tolerate them: within the options themselves. [The essay] doesn't insist on whatever past mediations—and these are the ancient mediations during which the entire society is sedimented—but seeks the reality content material in its items, itself inherently historic. It doesn't search any primordial given, hence spiting a societalized [vergesellschaftete] society that, since it doesn't tolerate something that doesn't endure its stamp, tolerates least of all something that reminds it of its personal ubiquity, and necessarily cites as its ideological supplement the very nature its praxis has thoroughly eradicated. The essay quietly [wortlos] places an finish to the semblance that suggestion may well escape of the sector of thesis, tradition, and flow into that of physis, nature. Spellbound through what's fastened and stated to be by-product, through artifacts, it honors nature through confirming that it now not exists for humans. (NL 1: eleven; GS eleven: 19) From the historico-philosophical viewpoint expressed during this passage, the essay is the philosophical try to get away philosophy’s insistence on transcendental fact. because the essay doesn't faux deduction from a “primordial given,” it could verify its personal spinoff nature: consistently a cultural product, continually facing tradition, the essay refuses to consider nature except as whatever irretrievably misplaced, proof against any “positive dialectic” and confident negation. Adorno describes the essay as being spellbound through what it understands to be artifactual, hence honoring nature in a depression demeanour, as anything thoroughly different. The incisive power of essayistic considering are available in its rigorous pursuit of immanent critique. Nowhere does it holiday the legislation of its shape. A legislation that's enforced silently: wortlos. Adorno’s word means that the essay isn't really within the enterprise of proclaiming what's and what's now not; it confirms silently that nature is not any longer on hand to people. This silent saying—or gesturing—is no longer unintentional or secondary to the essay. From Adorno’s historico-philosophical viewpoint, the essay should be decreased to at least one perpetual topic: “The dating of nature and tradition is its real subject” (NL1:19; GS eleven: 28). yet “theme” doesn't suggest that the essay addresses at once the relation among nature and tradition. The essay’s crucial subject matter is The paintings of Transition 31 uttered purely silently, as a gesture that signs: “Thus it's. ”60 The essay reacts to phrases (thesei) that erroneously evoke the life of anything that's now not on hand (physei).

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