Henry Pickford, "Thinking with Adorno: Metaphysical Experience and Aesthetic Autonomy"
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In the spring of 1969, when Germany was convulsed by popular unrest and police violence, the editor of the German magazine Der Spiegel begins his interview with the philosopher and sociologist Theodor W. Adorno by saying "Professor Adorno, two weeks ago, the world still seemed in order," to which Adorno responds, "Not to me." The interview concludes with Adorno asserting, "I am not in the least ashamed to say very publicly that I am working on a major book on aesthetics."
While Adorno submitted the oppressive tendencies of modern western society to withering critique, his practice as a public intellectual as well as his philosophy also seek to develop capacities of resistance and hope. The talk offers an account of some of these capacities, centering on two concepts advanced by Adorno: metaphysical experience and the riddle-character of modernist art.
Henry W. Pickford is Professor of German and Philosophy.