Concepts and intuitions: Adorno after the linguistic turn

Inquiry 44 (2):171 – 200 (2001)
Abstract
Adorno's conception of conceptually articulated experience can be defended and made fruitful for a critical philosophy after the so-called linguistic turn. The aim is both to answer the criticisms raised by Jürgen Habermas and others that Adorno's philosophy remains bound by the premises of a subject-centred philosophy, and to criticize social-pragmatism from the vantage-point of Adorno's philosophy of language. It is shown that Adorno is committed to a picture of experience very much in line with the recent views of John McDowell, which extends the space of reasons beyond the space of concepts. Further, it is shown that non-inferential justification can be combined with an expressivist picture of judgment. Finally, it is argued that what is called the extended space of reasons is ultimately social; that representation, the aboutness of thought, serves expressive roles in a socially articulated space of reason-giving. The advantage of Adorno's position vis-à-vis a one-sided social-pragmatism consists in his defence of what is called subjective-material proprieties of judgment. Adorno's idea that the extended space of reasons implies the acknowledgement of what he refers to as the non-identical within conceptually articulated experience is thus reconstructed and defended. Such non-identity, it is claimed, is exhibited in successful art-works which thereby ought to be counted as forms of reasoning. On this basis, Adorno's philosophy acquires critical and normative significance after the linguistic turn.
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