Item description for Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' by Theodor Adorno, Rolf Tiedemann & Rodney Livingstone...
Kant is a pivotal thinker in Adorno's intellectual world. Although he wrote monographs on Hegel, Husserl, and Kierkegaard, the closest Adorno came to an extended discussion of Kant are two lecture courses, one concentrating on the "Critique of Pure Reason" and the other on the "Critique of Practical Reason." This new volume by Adorno comprises his lectures on the former. Adorno attempts to make Kant's thought comprehensible to students by focusing on what he regards as problematic aspects of Kant's philosophy. Adorno examines Kant's dualism and what he calls the Kantian "block": the contradictions arising from Kant's resistance to the idealism that his successors--Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel--saw as the inevitable outcome of his ideas. These lectures also provide an accessible introduction to and rationale for Adorno's own philosophy as expounded in "Negative Dialectics" and his other major writings. Adorno's view of Kant forms an integral part of his own philosophy, since he argues that the way out of the Kantian contradictions is to show the necessity of the dialectical thinking that Kant himself spurned. This in turn enables Adorno to criticize Anglo-Saxon scientistic or positivist thought, as well as the philosophy of existentialism. This book will be of great interest to those working in philosophy and in social and political thought, and it will be essential reading for anyone interested in the foundations of Adorno's own work.
From The Book Jacket
Kant is a pivotal thinker in Adorno's intellectual world. Although he wrote monographs on Hegel, Husserl, and Kierkegaard, the closest Adorno came to an extended discussion of Kant are two lecture courses, one concentrating on the Critique of Pure Reason and the other on the Critique of Practical Reason. This new volume by Adorno comprises his lectures on the former. Adorno attempts to make Kant's thought comprehensible to students by focusing on what he regards as problematic aspects of Kant's philosophy. Adorno examines Kant's dualism and what he calls the Kantian “block”: the contradictions arising from Kant's resistance to the idealism that his successors—Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel—saw as the inevitable outcome of his ideas. These lectures also provide an accessible introduction to and rationale for Adorno's own philosophy as expounded in Negative Dialectics and his other major writings. Adorno's view of Kant forms an integral part of his own philosophy, since he argues that the way out of the Kantian contradictions is to show the necessity of the dialectical thinking that Kant himself spurned. This in turn enables Adorno to criticize Anglo-Saxon scientistic or positivist thought, as well as the philosophy of existentialism. This book will be of great interest to those working in philosophy and in social and political thought, and it will be essential reading for anyone interested in the foundations of Adorno's own work.
Citations And Professional Reviews Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' by Theodor Adorno, Rolf Tiedemann & Rodney Livingstone has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Choice - 02/01/2002 page 1059
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Studio: Stanford University Press
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Release Date Apr 1, 2002
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ISBN 0804744262 ISBN13 9780804744263
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More About Theodor Adorno, Rolf Tiedemann & Rodney Livingstone
Theodor W. Adorno was one of the founders of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. Among his many books are Metaphysics: Concept and Problems (Stanford, 2000), The Psychological Technique of Martin Luther Thomas' Radio Addresses (Stanford, 2000), Problems of Moral Philosophy (Stanford, 2000), and Introduction to Sociology (Stanford, 2000)
Reviews - What do customers think about Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason'?
Get a thorough understanding the easy way Sep 20, 2005
Taking an interest in philosophy in an attempt to characterize the elements of cognition that drive an entire society in directions that it would never contemplate going, if only the always already unthunk could control events as thoroughly as groups maintain strict limits on the options they are willing to consider, I'm having trouble identifying an element of irony that could make my review of KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON by Theodor W. Adorno suitable for the comic times in which we live. First of all, the book is not about politics, however much Adorno wishes to characterize Kant's philosophy as seeking a form of enlightenment that served the interest of "bourgeois resignation," (p. 6) in opposition to the authority of other absolutes while expressing "the enthusiasm of the youthful bourgeoisie which has not yet started its never-ending complaints that reason cannot solve anything, but which still feels confident of its ability to achieve things by virtue of the power of its own reason" (p. 54). At the top of this heap of ideas is autonomy, a situation in which "the judge and the accused are one and the same; that the authority that is free and independent simultaneously represents the law. This is the founding conception of his entire universe." (pp. 54-55).
Then the tradition of bourgeois rationalism forms a contrast with "the irrationality of the whole, that is to say, the blindness of the forces at work, and with that the inability of the individual to determine his own life in accordance with reason, remains intact." (p. 64). Because Kant desires to rid metaphysical thinking of mythologies that have typically been adopted as absolutes, this form of certainty as the ultimate foundation for cognition is blocked. "In this sense Kantian philosophy is one that enshrines the validity of the non-identical in the most emphatic way possible. It is a mode of thought that is not satisfied by reducing everything that exists to itself." (p. 66). Comedy might be more emphatic with some *Excuse*me* regarding offensive pretensions, but this book, with lectures delivered from 12 May 1959 to 30 July 1959, translated from the German by Rodney Livingstone, with Editor's Notes (pp. 238-281) by Rolf Tiedemann, provides a philosophical context for evaluating how well Kant's book, THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON can be understood in our own times.
The English translation of CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON by Norman Kemp Smith (1928) has been used to match the quotes by Adorno, but after mentioning the KANT-LEXICON (ed. Rudolf Eisler) in Lecture Six, notes 7, 8 and 11 for that lecture distinguish which sentences in some quotations "are Eisler's summary of Kant's position." (p. 248). The translation by Norman Kemp Smith has been identified by Raymond B. Blakney in AN IMMANUEL KANT READER (1960) as being literal, which "reproduces the original, as exactly as possible, idiom and all, in the vocabulary of the receiving language." Adorno's lectures are much easier to read than the J. M. D. Meiklejohn translation of THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON at the beginning of Great Books volume 39, Kant. The sections numbered 1 through 23 of the First Division of Transcendental Logic were the easiest to locate for comparison with comments in the lecture. Philosophy is a field that benefits from having many points of view, but Kant is rarely clear when he attempts to use terminology which combine them all in the same sentence. Adorno attempts to explain what Kant was trying to say, "the central concept that his critique of reason is based on, the concept of the transcendental" (p. 16). Other translations might seem to miss the point, or perhaps Meiklkejohn merely paraphrased all of section 16 into this single paragraph:
*The manifold content given in a sensuous intuition comes necessarily under the original synthetical unity of apperception, because thereby alone is the unity of intuition possible (Section 13). But that act of the understanding, by which the manifold content of given representations (whether intuitions or conceptions) is brought under one apperception, is the logical function of judgements (Section 15). All the manifold, therefore, in so far as it is given in one empirical intuition, is determined in relation to one of the logical functions of judgement, by means of which it is brought into union in one consciousness. Now the categories are nothing else than these functions of judgement, so far as the manifold in a given intuition is determined in relation to them (Section 9). Consequently, the manifold in a given intuition is necessarily subject to the categories of understanding.* (GREAT BOOKS, 39, KANT, p. 52).
Maybe that is just missing a Note that was added to the second edition in 1787, from which Adorno stated that Kant "maintains in one of the decisive passages of the book that it (namely the synthetic unity of apperception) is the highest point to which he has `attached' his entire philosophy." (p. 16). The 2001 note on the 1787 note states:
"Adorno has in mind here the Note to Section 16 of the Transcendental Deduction in which Kant states: `The synthetic unity of apperception is therefore the highest point to which we must ascribe [heften = attach. Trans.] all employment of the understanding, even the whole of logic, and conformably therewith, transcendental philosophy.' CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON, p. 154, B 134." (n. 6, p. 242).
Reading Kant is not likely to be a pleasure until the reader has some reason to think that we know what it means, but the comic view of all this might be far more advanced than what most readers will find in these lectures. One joke in this book is originally by Nietzsche, with "the pun on the American expression `backwoodsman' when he described Kant as an `otherworldsman' [Hinterweltler]." (p. 109). Another note says Nietzsche might have been thinking of someone else and THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA in The Portable Nietzsche has a less specific, "On the Afterwordly." TPN, p. 142). Adorno ought to get credit for besting Nietzsche's joke.
Readable analysis of Kant Oct 20, 2001
This is a readable series of lectures on Kant by a man who was a genuine anti-philosopher.
As in many texts of the Frankfurt School, the Marxism is recreational. As Rolf Wiggershaus' history of the Frankfurt School indicates, Adorno and especially Horkheimer were always careful to sideline Marxist analysis. References to the "material basis" of apprehension of space and time, and of Kant's system considered historically, seem to be muted.
A key to understanding Adorno on Kant is an understanding of the negative concept of reification.
It is hard to foreground a negative concept, rigourously cancelling out invalid pictures of the world...including the image that arises from the very phrase, picture of the world, which is itself reified and not a little sad, in that the subject becomes a lonely visitor to an otherwise deserted sort of cinema on a senior citizen's discount.
The unconscious habit of reification is a feature of the "educated" elite of a postmodern late capitalism, in that in recent years and since Adorno's death in 1970, this class has shifted from reproducing itself by labor to commodifying, packaging and peddling reified forms of its labor. As opportunities for the so-called "chattering class" to work in media and government have declined in Western societies, increasingly the educated elite must marketize its production.
Of course, this process destroys new opportunities since the dominant form of any one intellectual commodity, while not identical to similar "products", has a tendency through extra-market means to eliminate competition. These extra-market means range from network externalities in the computer business to personal brutality (up to and including force and fraud) on the part of some entrepreneurs.
Nonetheless it is our responsibility to realize that here Adorno is trying to express a truth that is not (as it is pictured by incompetent, which is to say modal, professors of philosophy) at all captured by a reified IMAGE of the mind, a wall straight out of Pyramus and Thisbe (in Adorno's book, the "block"), and the Kantian things in themselves.
For Adorno, subjectivity and objectivity do not represent independent categories (this seems to be a theme of his late work.) Descartes, starting with an extreme subjectivity, felt compelled to logically derive an objective world. This while securing objectivity as far as Descartes, and perhaps his Mom, were concerned, made it in terms of an ontological pecking-order logically derived from the cogito. But the entire edifice's very danger of collapse becomes to the artisan philosopher a source of continued unease.
Adorno instead proposes a negative critique. What if subjectivity and objectivity are neither irreducible the one to the other?
It seems that for Ted, subjectivity's objective content and its synthetic apriori features are a necessary feature of subjectivity, and the continuous apprehension of an objective reality by a mininum of one subject mean that the two categories are both necessary, do not presuppose each other and form an organic unity.
Moreover, another necessary feature of subjectivity is its shareablility as opposed to dreams and other fugue states. Western philosophy has been starting with Descartes has been overly concerned with nondefault states as a sort of clever dodge and one reflects on the fondness of philosophy graduate students, during the collapse of American analytic philosophy during the 1970s, for the bottle. Recent philosophy, perhaps due to muscular feminism, has restored the default state of healthy consciousness to center stage without too much back-talk from surviving members of the analytic tribe, who are too hung-over to come up with any more clever counter-examples.
Furthermore, if we deny that we are talking about an empirical I as studied by cognitive neuroscience, dreams and fugue states automatically become of less interest. For the most part, the phenomenological world consists of me when NOT in any form of fugue state, and my fellow citizens NOT in any form of fugue state. And even if we bracket out considerations of existence the world contains history in the form of multiple generations of people passing through different stages of life.
A difference between discourse about the "I', the ego, the subject, in English-American analytic philosophy, and the way it is discussed in Kant and the philosophers after him including Adorno, is that the "I" of the latter has a normative content. An older era would say a certain amount of healthy-mindedness is found in this "I" as a necessary feature for this is the only way we can generalize this "I" so that statements about it can apply to ALL "I's."
A common feature of fugue states, from the brown study to the full-bore alcoholic toot, is the destruction, first of intersubjectivity and then subjectivity. I am well aware that it would be pernicious to merely assume healthy-mindedness and this entire area is in need of further research.
We can find transcendental arguments in the strangest places as in the case of discourse ethics, and the need for citizens (to be citizens) to be assured of minimal political and economic rights.
For example, a feature of American debates on health insurance happens to be neglect of its transcendental character. If we presuppose a political and independent sphere consisting of Lockean subjects with strong rights and responsibilities, then the physical liquidation (even though gradual, and no-one's responsibility) of these subjects because, transcendentally, our concern.
This is to arrive (I believe) at Husserl's strong protest against the accusation that Husserl was an empirical psychologist when Husserl described shared ideas.
A Continental tradition of which Adorno and Husserl are a part declares that there are, over and above the empirical contents of our minds, intersubjective concepts including ethical and artistic concepts. Husserl was not a psychologist maudit, nor was Kant a cognitive neuroscientist, because in Husserl's case Ideas could not be abstracted from the content and in Kant's case the subject's apprehension of reality was not guaranteed by an empirical nexus.
Kant's world is established by declaring victory; not so much the triumphant cry I am but the greater shout it is.
Metacritique May 29, 2001
This work completes Adorno¡¦s metacritique on modern German transcendental idealism for the English speaking world. Taken with Negative Dialectics, The Jargon of Authenticity, The Three Studies on Hegel, and Against Epistemology, this text unlocks the unique tradition of Kant and Hegel and Husserl and Heidegger. Adorno¡¦s reading weaves immanently between positivism, idealism, Neo-Kantianism, phenomenology and ontology to present Kant in a unique manner that is particularly interesting to the postmodern debate. Adorno, who holds to modernity and the notion of reason in Kant (linked to a dynamic use of Hegelian dialectics), brings Kant back into the debate on reason for contemporary understanding. Adorno will show the relation between metaphysics and ideology through metaphysical indifference. An indifference which Kant¡¦s philosophy opposed.