Kant, Adorno and the work of art

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (8):915-933 (2011)
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The concept of autonomy has had a central place in the German aesthetic tradition since the eighteenth century, specifically, after Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment. Although Kant denied that aesthetic judgments yield cognitive truth, aesthetic judgments are autonomous in that they do not rely on or presuppose a concern with the object's purpose, utility, or even its actual existence. For Theodor Adorno, the autonomy of art lies in the work of art, in its production, not specifically in the aesthetic judgments of the subject. This article shows that by shifting autonomy from aesthetic judgments to art production, Adorno effectively makes art the reservoir for human freedom. Although this point is often eluded to in Adorno scholarship by individuals such as Tom Huhn and Lambert Zuidervaart, it is often passed over without additional explanation and discussion



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