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Summary

Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969) was a first-generation member of the Frankfurt School For Social Research. As was the case with his fellow 'Critical Theorists' Horkheimer and Marcuse et al, his work was interdisciplinary and considerably Marxist. His task, as he saw it, was to use philosophy, sociology and other tools to understand the evils of the past and present, thereby helping to prepare the possibility – he thought one could do little more than that – of a better future. Adorno’s largest philosophical debts are to Kant, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche. Adorno drew upon those thinkers, and others including Freud and Walter Benjamin, in creating a distinctive approach to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy.

Key works

Adorno’s magnum opus, Negative Dialectics (first published 1966), is as much a critique of metaphysics, epistemology and of systematic philosophy in general as it is a contribution to those endeavours. Somewhat similar – and working via an account of Husserl’s phenomenology – is the earlier Metacritique of Epistemology (first published in 1956). The posthumously published Aesthetic Theory is also very important; given the centrality of aesthetics to Adorno’s philosophy, it is not ‘just’ a work on aesthetics. There are other important works. Dialectic of Enlightenment (co-written with Max Horkheimer; first published in 1947) presents a case that the Enlightenment has disastrously misfired. Minima Moralia (1951) is a careful and quintessentially Adornian aphoristic text, covering many subjects but especially social, political and ethical ones. Hegel: Three Studies (1963) is something of a preparation for Negative Dialectics. Among the recently translated lecture courses, Problems of Moral Philosophy is perhaps the most enlightening.

Introductions

Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts, edited by D. Cook, might be the most accessible introduction to this difficult thinker. Other introductions include works by B. O’Connor, G. Rose, S. Jarvis, and chapters 5 and 7 of D. Held. Adorno’s lectures (such as the aforementioned Problems of Moral Philosophy) are also useful as introductions.

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  1. Ackbar Abbas (2012). Adorno and the Weather: Critical Theory in an Era of Climate Change. Radical Philosophy 174:7.
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  2. John Duane Abromeit (2004). The Dialectic of Bourgeois Society: An Intellectual Biography of the Young Max Horkheimer, 1895--1937. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
    My dissertation is conceived as an intellectual biography of the social philosopher Max Horkheimer. It is structured chronologically and divided into eight chapters, which address Horkheimer's intellectual development during the early and middle phases of his life. The first chapter draws on Horkheimer's early literary writings to reconstruct his upbringing in Wilhelmine Germany, his critique of World War I, and his involvement in the Munich Council Republic. Horkheimer's student years at the newly founded J. W. Goethe University in Frankfurt are (...)
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  3. C. Adair-Toteff (2005). Lorenz Jager: Adorno. A Political Biography; Tom Huhn: The Cambridge Companion to Adorno. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (3):591-596.
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  4. Dieter W. Adolphs (1992). The Dialectics of Philosophical Idealism and Realism In Adorno's Aesthetics. Idealistic Studies 22 (1):1-10.
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  5. T. W. Adorno (1993). Theory of Pseudo-Culture (1959). Telos 1993 (95):15-38.
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  6. T. W. Adorno (1991). Marginalia on Mahler (On the 25th Anniversary of His Death, May 18, 1936). Telos 1991 (87):79-84.
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  7. T. W. Adorno (1988). The Aging of the New Music. Telos 1988 (77):95-116.
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  8. T. W. Adorno (1980). Music and the New Music: In Memory of Peter Suhrkamp. Telos 1980 (43):124-138.
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  9. T. W. Adorno (1978). On the Social Situation of Music. Telos 1978 (35):128-164.
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  10. T. W. Adorno (1978). Culture and Administration. Telos 1978 (37):93-111.
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  11. T. W. Adorno (1978). Resignation. Telos 1978 (35):165-168.
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  12. T. W. Adorno (1978). The Metacritique of Epistemology. Telos 1978 (38):77-103.
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  13. T. W. Adorno (1977). Music and Technique. Telos 1977 (32):79-94.
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  14. T. W. Adorno (1976). Alienated Masterpiece: The Missa Solemnis (1959). Telos 1976 (28):113-124.
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  15. T. W. Adorno (1974). The Stars Down to Earth: The Los Angeles Times Astrology Column. Telos 1974 (19):13-90.
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  16. T. W. Adorno (1974). Lyric Poetry and Society. Telos 1974 (20):56-71.
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  17. T. W. Adorno, H. Becker & Marie-andrée Ricard (2000). Grand article: L' éducation pour débarbariser. Cités 4:153-165.
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  18. T. W. Adorno & H. Kaal (1961). "Static" and "Dynamic" as Sociological Categories. Diogenes 9 (33):28-49.
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  19. T. W. Adorno & P. von Haselberg (1983). On the Historical Adequacy of Consciousness. Telos 1983 (56):97-103.
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  20. T. Adorno & H. Becker (1983). Education for Autonomy. Telos 1983 (56):103-110.
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  21. Theodor Adorno (2011). Tradução: Fragmento sobre música e linguagem. Trans/Form/Ação 31 (2):167-171.
    A música assemelha-se à linguagem. Expressões como idioma musical e entonação musical não são nenhuma metáfora. Contudo, música não é linguagem. Sua similitude com a linguagem indica o caminho para o intrínseco, bem como para o vago. Quem toma a música ao pé da letra como linguagem é induzido ao erro.
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  22. Theodor Adorno (1997). Aesthetic Theory. Althone.
    This is the new, better translation by Robert Hullot-Kentor.
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  23. Theodor Adorno (ed.) (1991). The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. Routledge.
    This book is an unrivalled indictment of the banality of mass culture - Adorno's finest essays are collected here, offering the reader unparalleled insights ...
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  24. Theodor Adorno (1977). Adorno on Brecht.”. In Theodor W. Adorno (ed.), Aesthetics and Politics. Verso. 177--95.
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  25. Theodor W. Adorno (2011). Philosophie Und Soziologie (1960). Suhrkamp.
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  26. Theodor W. Adorno (2010). Einführung in Die Dialektik: (1958). Suhrkamp.
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  27. Theodor W. Adorno (2009). Night Music: Essays on Music 1928-1962. Seagull Books.
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  28. Theodor W. Adorno (2009). Ästhetik (1958/59). Suhrkamp.
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  29. Theodor W. Adorno (2008). Philosophische Elemente Einer Theorie der Gesellschaft, 1964. Suhrkamp.
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  30. Theodor W. Adorno (2006). History and Freedom. Polity.
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  31. Theodor W. Adorno (2006). Philosophy of New Music. Univ of Minnesota Press.
    [Tnis is a new translation of Adorno's Philosophie der neuen Musik. The older translation has the title 'Philosophy of Modern Music'. -NJ].
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  32. Theodor W. Adorno (2004). Aesthetic Theory. Continuum.
    The most important aesthetics of the century, this is a long-awaited work, the culmination of a lifetime's investigation.
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  33. Theodor W. Adorno (2003/1984). Philosophy of Modern Music. Continuum.
    A landmark work from the founder of the Frankfurt School. A key work in the study of Adorno, of interest to students and general readers alike.
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  34. Theodor W. Adorno (2003). Can One Live After Auschwitz?: A Philosophical Reader. Stanford University Press.
    This is a comprehensive collection of readings from the work of Theodor Adorno, one of the most influential German thinkers of the twentieth century. What took place in Auschwitz revokes what Adorno termed the “Western legacy of positivity,” the innermost substance of traditional philosophy. The prime task of philosophy then remains to reflect on its own failure, its own complicity in such events. Yet in linking the question of philosophy to historical occurrence, Adorno seems not to have abandoned his paradoxical, (...)
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  35. Theodor W. Adorno (2002). Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Stanford University Press.
    This is a new, improved translation of the most influential publication of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory.
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  36. Theodor W. Adorno (2002). Introduction to Sociology. Polity..
    Introduction to Sociology distills decades of distinguished work in sociology by one of this century’s most influential thinkers in the areas of social theory ...
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  37. Theodor W. Adorno (2002). Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Polity..
    "This volume . . . provides wonderful insight into Adorno's understanding of Kant and also allows us to see more clearly the role Kant's thought played in ...
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  38. Theodor W. Adorno (2001). Metaphysics: Concept and Problems. Stanford University Press.
    This volume makes available in English for the first time Adorno’s lectures on metaphysics. It provides a unique introduction not only to metaphysics but also to Adorno’s own intellectual standpoint, as developed in his major work Negative Dialectics. Metaphysics for Adorno is defined by a central tension between concepts and immediate facts. Adorno traces this dualism back to Aristotle, whom he sees as the founder of metaphysics. In Aristotle it appears as an unresolved tension between form and matter. This basic (...)
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  39. Theodor W. Adorno (2001). Kants Critique of Pure Reason, 1959. Polity.
  40. Theodor W. Adorno (2000). The Actuality of Philosophy. In O, Connor & B (eds.), Telos. Blackwell. 120-133.
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  41. Theodor W. Adorno (2000). Problems of Moral Philosophy. Stanford University Press.
    These seventeen lectures given in 1963 focus largely on Kant, 'a thinker in whose work the question of morality is most sharply contrasted with other spheres of existence'. After discussing a number of the Kantian categories of moral philosophy, Adorno considers other, seemingly more immediate general problems, such as the nature of moral norms, the good life, and the relation of relativism and nihilism. In the course of the lectures, Adorno addresses a wide range of topics, including: theory and practice, (...)
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  42. Theodor W. Adorno (2000). Sociology and Empirical Research. In O., Connor & B. (eds.), The Adorno Reader. Blackwell. 228.
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  43. Theodor W. Adorno (1999). Sound Figures. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  44. Theodor W. Adorno (1998). Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. Columbia University Press.
    Written after his return to Germany in 1949, the articles, essays, and radio talks included in this volume speak to the pressing political, cultural, and ...
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  45. Theodor W. Adorno (1997). Subject and Object. In A. Arato & E. Gebhard (eds.), The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. Continuum.
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  46. Theodor W. Adorno (1997). Gesammelte Schriften. Suhrkamp.
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  47. Theodor W. Adorno (1994). Briefe Und Briefwechsel. Suhrkamp.
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  48. Theodor W. Adorno (1994). Bd. 4. Briefwechsel, 1927-1969. In Briefe Und Briefwechsel. Suhrkamp.
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  49. Theodor W. Adorno (1994). Bd. 5. Briefe an Die Eltern, 1939-1951. In Briefe Und Briefwechsel. Suhrkamp.
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  50. Theodor W. Adorno (1994). Hegel: Three Studies. MIT Press.
    Adorno's efforts to salvage the contemporaneity of Hegel's thought form part of his response to the increasingly tight net of social control in the aftermath of ...
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