Natural history: The life and afterlife of a concept in Adorno

Critical Horizons 5 (1):227-258 (2004)

Theodor Adorno's concept of 'natural history' [Naturgeschichte] was central for a number of Adorno's theoretical projects, but remains elusive. In this essay, I analyse different dimensions of the concept of natural history, distinguishing amongst (a) a reflection on the normative and methodological bases of philosophical anthropology and critical social science; (b) a conception of critical memory oriented toward the preservation of the memory of historical suffering; and (c) the notion of 'mindfulness of nature in the subject' provocatively asserted in Max Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment. These strands are united by the notion of transience and goal of developing a critical theory sensitive to the transient in history. The essay concludes by suggesting some implications of an expanded concept of natural history for issues in the discourse theory of Jürgen Habermas.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/1568516042653620
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,330
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Understanding Adorno on ‘Natural-History’.Tom Whyman - 2016 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 24 (4):452-472.
Mastery or Dialectic? Arendt and Adorno on Nature.Buğra Yasin - 2019 - Critical Horizons 20 (4):333-349.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Adorno’s Critical Materialism.Deborah Cook - 2006 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (6):719-737.
Adorno and the Disenchantment of Nature.Alison Stone - 2006 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (2):231-253.
Adorno's Aesthetic Concept of Aura.Yvonne Sherratt - 2007 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 33 (2):155-177.
Mimesis in Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory.Bed P. Paudyal - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry 4 (8):1-10.


Added to PP index

Total views
77 ( #113,662 of 2,286,096 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #128,357 of 2,286,096 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature