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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-10-01
  • Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr
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This volume makes available in English for the first time Adorno's lectures on metaphysics. It provides a unique introduction not only to metaphysics but also to Adorno's own intellectual standpoint, as developed in his major work Negative Dialectics. Metaphysics for Adorno is defined by a central tension between concepts and immediate facts. Adorno traces this dualism back to Aristotle, whom he sees as the founder of metaphysics. In Aristotle it appears as an unresolved tension between form and matter. This basic split, in Adorno's interpretation, runs right through the history of metaphysics. Perhaps not surprisingly, Adorno finds this tension resolved in the Hegelian dialectic. Underlying this dualism is a further dichotomy, which Adorno sees as essential to metaphysics: while it dissolves belief in transcendental worlds by thought, at the same time it seeks to rescue belief in a reality beyond the empirical, again by thought. It is to this profound ambiguity, for Adorno, that the metaphysical tradition owes its greatness. The major part of these lectures, given by Adorno late in his life, is devoted to a critical exposition of Aristotle's thought, focusing on its central ambiguities. In the last lectures, Adorno's attention switches to the question of the relevance of metaphysics today, particularly after the Holocaust. He finds in 'metaphysical experiences', which transcend rational discourse without lapsing into irrationalism, a last precarious refuge of the humane truth to which his own thought always aspired. This volume will be essential reading for anyone interested in Adorno's work and will be a valuable text for students and scholars of philosophy and social theory.

Author Biography

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-69) was a prominent member of the Frankfurt School, and one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century in the areas of social theory, philosophy, literary criticism and aesthetics

Table of Contents

Lecture One: What is Metaphysics?
Metaphysics as the vexed question of philosophy
The uncertain subject matter of metaphysics
`Back-world' and occultism
Against the factual existence of essences
The conceptual character of metaphysics; the dispute over universals (I)
Theology and metaphysics in the positivist philosophy of history
The relationship of theology to metaphysics
The attempt to define the absolute by pure thought; critique of dogmatism and the new dogmatism; the pact of theology and metaphysics
The dispute over universals (II); formalization of the concept of metaphysics; Leucippus and Democritus as `metaphysical materialists'
Lecture Two: Doctrine of the First Cause
Lecture notes: The fundamental science as the doctrine of the first cause; abiding or becoming; the forgetting of metaphysical questions (force, life, psycho-physical parallelism)
Lecture Three: History of the Concept
Lecture notes: History of the concept; traditional subdivision of metaphysics; `Inductive metaphysics'; against fundamental ontology
Lecture Four: Plato, Aristotle and Heidegger
Plato's doctrine of Ideas; the sensible as non-being
The doctrine of μεθεξισ acknowledgement of empiricism in the late Plato
Tension between τo oν and τα oντα central
Ideas as the gods turned into concepts; metaphysics: a reflection of a breach; unity of criticism and rescue
Aristotle's critique of Plato; the `exertion of thought to save what it destroys'; Kant's attitude to Plato and Aristotle
Heidegger's rediscovery of the `pristine' Aristotle; the opening sentence of Aristotle's Metaphysics (I)
The opening sentence of Aristotle's Metaphysics (II)
Aristotle's empiricism
Lecture Five: Universal and Particular
Main themes of Aristotle's Metaphysics, according to Zeller; the `science of first principles and causes'; particular and universal (I)
Particular and universal (II); Aristotle in relation to nominalism
The universal within the particular; against χωρισμoσ Aristotle and Husserl
Critique of the doctrine of Ideas; parallel between Plato and Kant's moral law
The substantiality of the particular; the immediate
Substance and immediacy: Aristotle, Hume, Kant
Immediacy and mediation in Aristotle and Hegel; doctrine of δευτεραι oυσιαι
Lecture Six: Genesis and Validity
Concept and existing thing, the One and the Many, `unity in diversity'
Ontology: the priority of form; form and matter; ενεργεια and δυναμισ
The attitude to history: closeness and distance
Reality and possibility inverted; nominalism and realism in Aristotle
For us and in itself; the departmentalization of truth; the scholastic tradition in Scheler and Husserl
The primacy of the first and oldest; the unmoved mover; the idea of mediation
Lecture Seven: Mediation and the Happy Medium
The question of primacy
Idealist pre-judgement or misere de la philosophie
The problem of ideology and its truth content
The temporal core of truth
The problem of mediation unresolved
Form and matter (I); mediation and the `happy medium'
Antiquity without subjectivity
Subjectivity and the dialectic; idealism malgre lui-meme; form and matter (II)
Hegel and Aristotle
Lecture Eight: The Doctrine of Immutability
Critique and rescue
The sensible in Plato and Aristotle
A priori basis of knowledge in the sensible
Form mediated by content
Process of abstraction overlooked
Change, becoming, motion; change relative to the unchanging; on the way to the dialectic
Absence of infinity
Doctrine of the immutable
Preview of substance and accidence
Lecture Nine: Form and Matter
Substrate and property, matter and Gestalt; form and matter: reality and possibility
Aristotle's idealism; change as the realization of form
The concept of τελoσ matter and form in Schelling
Critique of the concept of matter as substance
Criticism and truth; the re-emergence of problems
The real basis of synthesis
Matter as πρωτηυλη
Matter, the concept of the non-conceptual; metaphysics as thinking into openness
Lecture Ten: The Problem of Mediation
Mediation the central problem
Permanence of form and constancy of the concept
The ontological priority of abstraction; Maximilian Beck's `immortality of the soul'
Religion's claims concerning immortality and the hypostasis of the concept
The four causes
Possibility mediated by concepts
Causality: the secularization of αμαγκη; natural causality and chance
`Causality based on freedom'; metaphysics as a structural context
Lecture Eleven: Movement, Change
The negativity of matter, an Aristotelian topos
The latent dialectic of rigidity and development
Matter as the principium individuationis; the universal as the good; the concept of the non-conceptual
Concealed objective idealism
`How change might be possible'
Movement as the realization of the possible
The moving and the moved principles; the body--soul dualism
Movement: the contact of form and matter
Lecture Twelve: The Unmoved Mover
Alternation between hylozoism and conceptuality
Doctrine of the eternity of movement; ontologization of change; `historicity'
Motion and the unmoved mover
Conceptual reprise of theology
Affirmative tendency of metaphysics; precursor of the ontological proof of God; the One and unity
Monotheistic tendency; idealism and vovs; vovs and subjectivity
Divine activity: thinking; Aristotle's theoretical concept
Theory and practice; the division of mental and physical labour
Lecture Thirteen: Athens and Auschwitz
Subjective idealism and static ontology
Divine self-contemplation and tautological knowledge
The model of self-reflection; `sacrifice' of the world; teleology
`All is one'
Towards the Hellenistic enlightenment
Metaphysics as it appears here and now
Metaphysics: the hypostasis of logic; thinking and being
Metaphysical experience today; immutability and transience; the relevance of intra-mundane elements in mysticism
Auschwitz has changed the concept of metaphysics
Lecture Fourteen: The Liquidation of the Self
The affirmative character of metaphysics a mockery of the victims
The assertion of meaning as ideology; Schopenhauer and the denial of the Will to Live
Towards the real hell
Age and death not invariants
Death in Being and Time; absolute adaptation
Liquidation of the self and the guilt of self-preservation
The replaceability of the individual, insignificance as `meaning'
Poetry after Auschwitz
Lecture Fifteen: Metaphysics and Materialism
A critique of Stoicism; the subject in a context of guilt
Philosophy and `Comment c'est'; Surface and depth
Positivist registration and speculative elevation
New categorical imperative; the addendum
Carrion, stench and putrefaction
The failure of culture
Against the resurrected culture
Lecture Sixteen: Consciousness of Negativity
Consciousness of the absolute and the absolute itself
Dialectical theology
`Lofty words' as a screen for evil; the fate of language as the fate of its subject matter
`If Beckett had been in a concentration camp'; thinking the extreme
Action and reflection
Against the destruction of culture
Lecture Seventeen: Dying Today
Culture and nature
Death as an entry-gate to metaphysics; Heidegger's metaphysics of death
Consciousness of mortality; potential unrealized
Time; the `wholeness of life'
The contingency of death and hope
Bergotte's death, Beckett's void; the idea of immortality
Hamlet and dying today
Lecture Eighteen: Metaphysical Experience
Mystical experience not a primal experience
Tradition and actuality in knowledge
Joy in names
The fallibility of metaphysical experience
Primacy of the object
Fruitless waiting
Attitude to Hegel: negation of the negation not positive
Editor's Notes 146(45)
Editor's Afterword 191(8)
Glossary of Greek Terms 199(3)
Index 202

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