ADORNO JARGON OF AUTHENTICITY PDF

Shelves: dilectio-sapientiae , leftwing-theory , wurstchen , fascists-wtf Part of the continuingly relevant subgenre of fascists wtf, this text works in parallel with Loewenthals work on rightwing agitators in the US during the 40s and Neumanns analysis of the Third Reich and Horkheimers Eclipse of Reason arguments, here focusing on rightwing language as it appears in the academic work of right-existentialism, particularly Heidegger with asides about Jaspers, Kierkegaard, and others. In the universalization of transcendental subjectivity into Dasein, the empirical is totally lost and, as Adorno claims, an essence-mythology of Being emerges. This is exemplified in the claim that the primacy of Dasein is a realm beyond fact and essence and yet one which maintains itself as an identity. No end to controls is sought; rather, the controls are carried over into the Being of Dasein. This is done according to the hoary custom of German Idealism. This should sound very familiar in the Age of Trump, incidentally.

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It goes without saying that this text will present the same formidable problems as any Adorno text. There is dense philosophical argument, written in that curious speculative style, with many asides to philosophers, writers and poets that Adorno assumes we will be familiar with. This text also features a very close reading of several works by Heidegger and Jaspers, which are referenced. As usual, I am going to sketch what I take to be the general argument and then pick one or two little gems.

I must say it that reading it on this occasion , I was struck by the continued relevance of the critique to current notions of authenticity or personal sincerity. A cult of sincerity affects a number of recent efforts in social science, such as autoethnography, the ideas of performance or narrativity in a number of areas, including Education and ethnography.

What is the critique? This seems to operate at two levels. First, they identify the current state of social relations with philosophical concepts. It is also clear that Heidegger works in a number of politically-loaded German cultural volkisch themes in his depiction of an authentic rural provincial life.

Secondly, identity thinking operates in the other direction, this time in a familiar way. Just as Hegelian philosophy identified Reason with the Prussian State, so Heideggerian existentialism compromises with authoritarianism, and eventually with Nazism.

This trend has inspired other work, especially in social theory. There are also the followers of transcendental or critical realism, such as Bhaskar, who attempt to deduce the existence of such a level by arguing that the well-known splits between structural and individual levels of analysis in social life must indicate the existence of something beneath that explains both.

For Adorno, such attempts are dangerous in that they try to end the dialectic between being and thought, the central dynamic lying behind the ability to do critique and consider political alternatives.

Apart from anything else, however, this can slide into a general and all-purpose politics just like other versions of social constructivism: if everything is socially constructed, this somehow equates advanced monopoly capitalism with the perceptions of children about Santa Claus. The jargon of authenticity is fashionable again, it could be argued, with statements valued in terms of how sincerely they are believed, with no external standards of critique applied to them.

It also appears in the sincere but strangely unoriginal disclosures of various writers engaged in performance or in journeying. Hunt offers perhaps the best example of the sincere journey, away from a pretty garbled version of western metaphysics and the scientific tradition, through Kuhn, into more subjectivist methodologies and thus to a familiar tolerant accommodation with more or less any view whatsoever.

It is very difficult to know quite what to make of the frequent mentions in current educational thinking of critical thinkers such as Habermas, Freire, Gadamer, or even Bakhtin, except as the flourishing of the jargon. Certainly, none of them seemed to have thought of any serious objections to a naive social constructivism. Of course, there is an authoritarianism beneath the surface here as well, and these arguments can function as signals that the writer belongs to some privileged and insightful group of sensitive persons: any dissenter can be readily pilloried as upholding an oppressive tradition, or suffering from some personal conservatism.

Adorno would sort them out! Authenticity seems to refer to some other set of social relations there too, quite often a volkisch one of British seaside holidays or some nostalgic past. It justifies Tourism Departments and a whole journal for that matter. Heidegger resorts to authoritarian and dogmatic language in order to make his arguments at crucial stages.

The romantic or translation of the imperative into a predication makes the imperative categorical. The speaker flatters the audience by suggesting that they are the ones who know the real essence of properly authentic matters. It is nonsense to appeal to some sort of primal experience, some basic human qualities.

Whoever wants [to contact] the other has to start with the immanence of culture, in order to break out through it. But fundamental ontology gladly spares itself that, by pretending it has a starting point somewhere outside. In that way such ontology succumbs to cultural mediations all the more. Philosophy involves itself all the more deeply in society as it more eagerly — reflecting upon itself — pushes off from society and its objective spirit. That was according to the taste of fascism.

With the downfall of market liberalism, relationships of domination stepped nakedly into the foreground. That is how people could jaw about blood and soil, without a smile, during the excessively accumulating industrial capitalism of the Third Reich 99 — It gathers reproductions of kitschy life—reforming impulses Instead, language rolls up its sleeves and lets it be understood that right action, in the right place, is worth more than reflection.

It vindicates without authority and without theology, maintaining that what is of essence is real, and, by the same token, that the existent is essential, meaningful, and justified. Cut off and fixed selfness only becomes, all the more, something external.

This is the ideological answer to the fact that the current state of affairs is everywhere producing an ego weakness which eradicates the concept of subject as individuality. Authenticity is supposed to calm the consciousness of weakness, but it also resembles it. The interest in the authenticity of the concept enters into the judgement about this concept. Whatever is authentic in this concept also only becomes so under the perspective of something that is different from it. Heidegger is quoted as admiring people who follow the impulses of their own Dasein, creating their own world.

Existentialists are just as likely to fall for this. Real self possession would offer freedom, but the jargon of authenticity offers only this abstract version of self possession. By that custom one should not speak of freedom without adding that it is identical with duty That it is characterised by the same nothingness that the self becomes in death. As such, it really serves to integrate individuals into the social order, which Heidegger partially recognises himself.

References Gannon, S. Hunt, C. Pink, S.

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Theodor W. Adorno

It goes without saying that this text will present the same formidable problems as any Adorno text. There is dense philosophical argument, written in that curious speculative style, with many asides to philosophers, writers and poets that Adorno assumes we will be familiar with. This text also features a very close reading of several works by Heidegger and Jaspers, which are referenced. As usual, I am going to sketch what I take to be the general argument and then pick one or two little gems.

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The Jargon of Authenticity

JA, xiii. After all, Heidegger is also guilty of clouding such Germanic and rather untranslatable words like Geborgenheit shelteredness , Anruf appeal , Begegnung encounter , Anliegen concern in a mystified aura cf. Concepts of authenticity are marked precisely by such lines of argument, by rhetorics of return and rediscovery. It is the political aspect of such ideas that interested Adorno, the functions that such reasoning fulfils. The jargon needs to be uncovered within the new context. To understand that, let us start with a definition of authenticity in view of its seemingly critical function: The authentic is that which cannot be seized by any external powers.

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Heidegger shirks responsibility for the claim inherent in the word "authenticity" to be presenting a positive doctrine of the good life when he insists that he is using the word as a value-free technical term, even while exploiting its fascination. That the alleged meaninglessness of life invalidates all principles of how to live serves in effect only to attract people to a certain way of life. Reading Adorno, on the contrary, it is easy to be initially unimpressed. His style aims precisely at avoiding such thoughtless adherence to thoughts.

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