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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 Abromeit (2004). Remembering Adorno. Radical Philosophy 124.
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  3. Erwin H. Ackerknecht (1963). Theodor Schwann, Leben Und WerkRembert WatermannLettres de Theodor SchwannMarcel Florkin. Isis 54 (1):169-170.
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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. Gretel Adorno & Walter Benjamin (2014). Correspondence 1930-1940. Polity.
    We must see to it that we put the best of ourselves in our letters; for there is nothing to suggest that we shall see each other again soon. So wrote Walter Benjamin to Gretel Adorno in spring 1940 from the south of France, shortly before he took his own life. The correspondence between Gretel Adorno and Walter Benjamin, published here in its complete form for the first time, is the document of a great friendship that existed independently of Benjamin's (...)
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  7. Gretel Adorno & Walter Benjamin (2008). Correspondence 1930-1940. Polity.
    We must see to it that we put the best of ourselves in our letters; for there is nothing to suggest that we shall see each other again soon. So wrote Walter Benjamin to Gretel Adorno in spring 1940 from the south of France, shortly before he took his own life. The correspondence between Gretel Adorno and Walter Benjamin, published here in its complete form for the first time, is the document of a great friendship that existed independently of Benjamin's (...)
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  8. T. W. Adorno (1993). Theory of Pseudo-Culture. Télos 1993 (95):15-38.
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  9. T. W. Adorno (1992). On Tradition. Télos 1992 (94):75-82.
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  10. T. W. Adorno (1991). Marginalia on Mahler. Télos 1991 (87):79-84.
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  11. T. W. Adorno (1988). The Aging of the New Music. Télos 1988 (77):95-116.
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  12. T. W. Adorno (1980). Music and the New Music: In Memory of Peter Suhrkamp. Télos 1980 (43):124-138.
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  13. T. W. Adorno (1978). Resignation. Télos 1978 (35):165-168.
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  14. T. W. Adorno (1978). The Metacritique of Epistemology. Télos 1978 (38):77-103.
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  15. T. W. Adorno (1978). Culture and Administration. Télos 1978 (37):93-111.
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  16. T. W. Adorno (1978). On the Social Situation of Music. Télos 1978 (35):128-164.
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  17. T. W. Adorno (1977). Music and Technique. Télos 1977 (32):79-94.
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  18. T. W. Adorno (1976). Alienated Masterpiece: The Missa Solemnis. Télos 1976 (28):113-124.
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  19. T. W. Adorno (1974). Lyric Poetry and Society. Télos 1974 (20):56-71.
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  20. T. W. Adorno (1974). The Stars Down to Earth: The Los Angeles Times Astrology Column. Télos 1974 (19):13-90.
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  21. T. W. Adorno, H. Becker & Marie-andrée Ricard (2000). Grand article: L' éducation pour débarbariser. Cités 4:153-165.
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  22. T. W. Adorno & H. Kaal (1961). "Static" and "Dynamic" as Sociological Categories. Diogenes 9 (33):28-49.
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  23. T. W. Adorno & P. von Haselberg (1983). On the Historical Adequacy of Consciousness. Télos 1983 (56):97-103.
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  24. T. Adorno & H. Becker (1983). Education for Autonomy. Télos 1983 (56):103-110.
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  25. 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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  26. Theodor Adorno (1977). Adorno on Brecht.”. In Theodor W. Adorno (ed.), Aesthetics and Politics. Verso. pp. 177--95.
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  27. Theodor W. Adorno (2014). Lectures on Negative Dialectics: Fragments of a Lecture Course 1965/1966. Polity.
    This volume comprises one of the key lecture courses leading up to the publication in 1966 of Adorno's major work, _Negative Dialectics_. These lectures focus on developing the concepts critical to the introductory section of that book. They show Adorno as an embattled philosopher defining his own methodology among the prevailing trends of the time. As a critical theorist, he repudiated the worn-out Marxist stereotypes still dominant in the Soviet bloc – he specifically addresses his remarks to students who had (...)
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  28. Theodor W. Adorno (2014). Letters to His Parents: 1939-1951. Polity.
    'My dears: this is but a brief note to welcome you to the new world, where you are now no longer all too far away from us. ' So begins Adorno's letter to his parents in May 1939, welcoming them to Cuba where they had just arrived after fleeing from Nazi Germany at the last minute. At the end of 1939 his parents moved again to Florida and then to New York, where they lived from August 1940 until the end (...)
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  29. Theodor W. Adorno (2011). Philosophie Und Soziologie (1960). Suhrkamp.
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  30. Theodor W. Adorno (2010). Einführung in Die Dialektik: (1958). Suhrkamp.
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  31. Theodor W. Adorno (2009). Ästhetik (1958/59). Suhrkamp.
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  32. Theodor W. Adorno (2009). Night Music: Essays on Music 1928-1962. Seagull Books.
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  33. Theodor W. Adorno (2008). Philosophische Elemente Einer Theorie der Gesellschaft, 1964. Suhrkamp.
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  34. Theodor W. Adorno (2008). Lectures on Negative Dialectics: Fragments of a Lecture Course 1965/1966. Polity.
    This volume comprises one of the key lecture courses leading up to the publication in 1966 of Adorno's major work, _Negative Dialectics_. These lectures focus on developing the concepts critical to the introductory section of that book. They show Adorno as an embattled philosopher defining his own methodology among the prevailing trends of the time. As a critical theorist, he repudiated the worn-out Marxist stereotypes still dominant in the Soviet bloc – he specifically addresses his remarks to students who had (...)
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  35. Theodor W. Adorno (2006). History and Freedom. Polity.
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  36. Theodor W. Adorno (2006). Letters to His Parents: 1939-1951. Polity.
    'My dears: this is but a brief note to welcome you to the new world, where you are now no longer all too far away from us. ' So begins Adorno's letter to his parents in May 1939, welcoming them to Cuba where they had just arrived after fleeing from Nazi Germany at the last minute. At the end of 1939 his parents moved again to Florida and then to New York, where they lived from August 1940 until the end (...)
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  37. 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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  38. Theodor W. Adorno (2003). 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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  39. 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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  40. 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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  41. 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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  42. 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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  43. 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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  44. Theodor W. Adorno (2001). Kants Critique of Pure Reason, 1959. Polity.
  45. Theodor W. Adorno (2000). The Actuality of Philosophy. In O, Connor & B (eds.), Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary. Blackwell. pp. 120-133.
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  46. 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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  47. Theodor W. Adorno (2000). Sociology and Empirical Research. In O., Connor & B. (eds.), The Adorno Reader. Blackwell. pp. 228.
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  48. Theodor W. Adorno (1999). Sound Figures.
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  49. 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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  50. Theodor W. Adorno (1997). 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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