Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

Theodor W.
Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

German Sociologist, Philosopher and Musicologist

Author Quotes

Perhaps the true society will grow tired of development and, out of freedom, leave possibilities unused, instead of storming under a confused compulsion to the conquest of strange stars.

The culture industry not so much adapts to the reactions of its customers as it counterfeits them.

The ideology of cultural conservatism which sees enlightenment and art as simple antitheses is false, among other reasons, in overlooking the moment of enlightenment in the genesis of beauty. Enlightenment does not merely dissolve all the qualities that beauty adheres to, but posits the quality of beauty in the first place.

The specific is not exclusive it lacks the aspiration to totality.

Those who cannot help ought also not advise: in an order where every mousehole has been plugged, mere advice exactly equals condemnation.

When all actions are mathematically calculated, they also take on a stupid quality.

Mind arose out of existence, as an organ for keeping alive. In reflecting existence, however, it becomes at the same time something else. The existent negates itself as thought upon itself. Such negation is mind's element.

Philosophy, which once seemed outmoded, remains alive because the moment of its realization was missed. The summary judgment that it had merely interpreted the world is itself crippled by resignation before reality, and becomes a defeatism of reason after the transformation of the world failed. It guarantees no place from which theory as such could be concretely convicted of the anachronism, which then as now it is suspected of. Perhaps the interpretation which promised the transition did not suffice. The moment on which the critique of theory depended is not to be prolonged theoretically. Praxis, delayed for the foreseeable future, is no longer the court of appeals against self-satisfied speculation, but for the most part the pretext under which executives strangulate that critical thought as idle which a transforming praxis most needs. After philosophy broke with the promise that it would be one with reality or at least struck just before the hour of its production, it has been compelled to ruthlessly criticize itself.

The darkening of the world makes the irrationality of art rational: radically darkened art.

The individual mirrors in his individuation the preordained social laws of exploitation, however mediated.

The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying-glass.

Thus is order ensured: some have to play the game because they cannot otherwise live, and those who could live otherwise are kept out because they do not want to play the game. It is as if the class from which independent intellectuals have defected takes its revenge, by pressing its demands home in the very domain where the deserter seeks refuge.

Without hope, the idea of truth would be scarcely even thinkable, and it is the cardinal untruth, having recognized existence to be bad, to present it as truth simply because it has been recognized.

Modernity is a qualitative, not a chronological, category.

Proletarian language is dictated by hunger. The poor chew words to fill their bellies.

The decay of giving is mirrored in the distressing invention of gift-article, based on the assumption that one does not know what to give because one really does not want to.

The intellectuals themselves are already so heavily committed to what is endorsed in their isolated sphere, that they no longer desire anything that does not carry the highbrow tag.

The sublime is only a step removed from the ridiculous.

To happiness the same applies as to truth: one does not have it, but is in it.

Work while you work, play while you play - this is a basic rule of repressive self-discipline.

Newness only becomes mere evil in its totalitarian format, where all the tension between individual and society, that once gave rise to the category of the new, is dissipated. Today the appeal to newness, of no matter what kind, provided only that it is archaic enough, has become universal, the omnipresent medium of false mimesis. The decomposition of the subject is consummated in his self-abandonment to an ever-changing sameness.

Psychology repeats in the case of properties what was done to property. It expropriates the individual by allocating him its happiness.

The dialectic cannot stop short before the concepts of health and sickness, nor indeed before their siblings reason and unreason.

The joke of our time is the suicide of intention.

The task of art today is to bring chaos into order.

Author Picture
First Name
Theodor W.
Last Name
Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund
Birth Date
Death Date

German Sociologist, Philosopher and Musicologist