Posts Tagged ‘Theodor Adorno


Adorno and the standpoint of redemption

For the critical thoughtist, Theodor Adorno (1903 – 1969) is a guiding light. A secular Jewish marxist of the Frankfurt School, he proposed a negative critique of exisiting social conditions that must avoid the affirmative illusions of the present. Interesting then that in one of his key works,   ‘Minima moralia: reflections on a damaged life’ he concluded in a tone clearly influenced – like his late friend Walter Benjamin – by Jewish religious conceptions, possibly even the notion of Tiqqun as the redemption of the broken world associated with Lurianic Kabbalah:

‘The only philosophy which can be responsibly practised in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things from the standpoint of redemption. Knowledge has no light but that shed on the world by redemption: all else is reconstruction, mere technique. Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light. To gain such perspectives without velleity or violence, entirely from self contact with its objects – this alone is the task of thought. It is the simplest of all things, because consummate negativity, once squarely faced, delineates the mirror-image of its opposite. But it is also the utterly impossible thing, because it presupposes a standpoint removed, even though by a hair’s breadth, from the scope of existence, whereas we well know that any possible knowledge must not only be first wrested from what is, if it shall hold good, but is also marked, for this very reason, by the same distortion and indigence which it seeks to escape. The more passionately thought denies its conditionality for the sake of the unconditional, the more unconsciously, and so calamitously, it is delivered up to the world. Even its own impossibility it must at last comprehend for the sake of the possible, but beside the demand thus placed on thought, the question of the reality or unreality of redemption itself hardly matters.’