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Adorno's Critique of Judgement: the recovery of negativity from the philosophies of Kant and Hegel

STOPFORD, RICHARD,JOHN (2012) Adorno's Critique of Judgement: the recovery of negativity from the philosophies of Kant and Hegel. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis has four primary aims. Firstly, I develop an account of Adorno’s critique of Kant and Hegel’s philosophy. I argue that the role and structure of judgement is key to his critical analysis. Adorno's discussion of their metaphysics, epistemology revolves around an immanent critique of judgement. This critique reveals, in the dialectical sense, the irreducibility of the 'negative moment' within judgement.

This critical exposition grounds the second aim of the thesis. Analysis of Kant and Hegel's philosophies enables us to discern a number of key concepts in Adorno's own thought, concepts which will help us to understand his notion of negativity. In particular, his dialectical critique produces a constellation of critical - or negative - dialectical concepts: conceptless [begriffslose], non-identity [Nichtidentität], mediation [Vermittlung].

The generation of these concepts and their elucidation provides the basis for the third aim: to give a textually viable and philosophically fruitful explanation of key commitments in Adorno’s negative dialectics. I argue that negative dialectics does not amount to a system, a standpoint, or even a set of principles. Rather, it is a critical activity. The commitments, which revolve around the constellation of concepts outlined above, indicate a critical sensitivity to the limits of epistemology and metaphysics and the problem that these limits pose for judgement.

Finally, I develop the resources to answer Michael Rosen’s claim that Adorno’s rejection of Hegelian determinate negation leaves his dialectics without any dynamic force. Drawing upon aesthetics, we can better understand the dynamics of negative dialectics. Aesthetic engagement with artworks not only demonstrates an appropriate orientation of philosophy to material, it is also an appropriate medium through which we can gain a clearer understanding of the philosophical commitments elucidated above.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Adorno; Kant; Hegel; Aesthetics; Dialectics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Jun 2012 14:32

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