Towards a New Manifesto?

Adorno and Horkheimer

“Adorno: Philosophy exists in order to redeem what you see in the look of an animal. If you feel that an idea is supposed to serve a practical purpose, it slithers into the dialectic. If, on the other hand, your thought succeeds in doing the thing justice, then you cannot really also assert the opposite. The mark of authenticity of a thought is that it negates the immediate presence of one’s own interests. True thought is thought that has no wish to insist on being in the right.

Horkheimer: When you speak, you always speak for yourself. When you defend a cause, you also defend yourself. To plead on behalf of a specific cause is not necessarily a bad thing. You feel deeply that your own interests are at stake. Everyone feels the injustice that would occur if one were to be extinguished. To plead on behalf of another is also to plead on one’s own behalf.

Adorno: The mistrust of argument is at bottom what has inspired the Husserls and Heideggers. The diabolical aspect of it is that the abolition of argument means that their writing ends up in tautology and nonsense. Argument has the form of ‘Yes, but . . . ’

Horkheimer: But the ‘Yes, but . . . ’ remains in the service of making something visible in the object itself.

Adorno: There is something bad about advocacy—arguing means applying the rules of thinking to the matters under discussion. You really mean to say that if you find yourself in the situation of having to explain why something is bad, you are already lost. Alternatively, you end up saying like Mephistopheles: ‘Scorn reason, despise learning.’ Then you will discover the primordial forces of being.”



Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Towards a New Manifesto.


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