The Dialectic of Enlightenment: a contemporary reading

History of the Human Sciences 12 (3):35-54 (1999)
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The importance of the concept of subjectivity has been underestimated in the work of Theodor Adorno. In order to address this lacuna we make an interpretation of Adorno’s text Dialectic of Enlightenment, in the form of an ‘idealized’ narrative of enlightenment’s historical decline into its ‘self-conceived’ opposite, namely myth. Within this narrative we unravel the Freudian assumptions underlying Adorno’s work. We depict the form of subjectivity that Adorno regards as inextricably connected to enlightenment reason. We then analyse his argument for the inevitable regression of this kind of subjectivity, and the resultant collapse of reason and enlightenment themselves. In so doing we demonstrate that, in Adorno’s view, the enlightenment concept of subjectivity is seriously flawed and entails an inevitable regression which, in the end, encompasses the very ‘death of the Subject’



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Adorno's aesthetic concept of aura.Yvonne Sherratt - 2007 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 33 (2):155-177.

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References found in this work

Of grammatology.Jacques Derrida - 1976 - Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Edited by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
Negative dialectics.Theodor W. Adorno - 1973 - New York: Continuum.
Of Grammatology.Jacques Derrida - 1982 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 15 (1):66-70.
The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.J. F. Lyotard - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:520.

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