Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

Theodor W.
Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund
1903
1969

German Sociologist, Philosopher and Musicologist

Author Quotes

Behind every work of art lies an uncommitted crime.

For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live.

In his state of complete powerlessness the individual perceives the time he has left to live as a brief reprieve.

It is not man's lapse into luxurious indolence that is to be feared, but the savage spread of the social under the mask of universal nature, the collective as a blind fury of activity.

A German is someone who cannot tell a lie without believing it himself.

But far from finding anything inimical in the prohibitions on thinking, the candidates - and all scientists are candidates for posts - feel relieved. Because thinking burdens them with a subjective responsibility which their objective position in the productive process does not allow them to meet, they renounce it, shiver a bit, and run to join their opponents. Dislike of thinking rapidly becomes incapacity for it: people who can effortlessly discover the most sophisticated statistical objections when it is a question of sabotaging a piece of knowledge, are unable to make ex cathedra the simplest predictions. They hit out at speculation and in it kills common sense. The more intelligent of them suspect the sickness of their intellectual powers, since it first appears not universally but in the organs whose services they sell. Many wait in fear and shame for their defect to be discovered. But they all find it publicly acclaimed as a moral achievement, and see themselves recognized for a scientific asceticism which to them is none, but the secret contour of their weakness. Their rancor is socially rationalized with the argument: thinking is unscientific. At the same time, their mental power has, in a number of dimensions, been prodigiously increased by control mechanisms. The collective stupidity of research technicians is not simply an absence or regression of intellectual faculties, but a proliferation of the thinking faculty itself, which consumes thought with its own strength. -

Freedom would be not to choose between black and white but to abjure such prescribed choices.

In many people it is already an impertinence to say 'I'.

It is not the office of art to spotlight alternatives, but to resist by its form alone the course of the world, which permanently puts a pistol to men's heads.

A pencil and rubber are of more use to thought than a battalion of assistants. To happiness the same applies as to truth: one does not have it, but is in it.

Freud made the discovery- quite genuinely, simply through working on his own material- that the more deeply one explores the phenomena of human individuation, the more unreservedly one grasps the individual as a self-contained and dynamic entity, the closer one draws to that in the individual which is really no longer individual.

In psycho-analysis nothing is true except the exaggerations.

It would be advisable to think of progress in the crudest, most basic terms: that no one should go hungry anymore, that there should be no more torture, no more Auschwitz. Only then will the idea of progress be free from lies.

A successful work of art is not one which resolves contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one which expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.

Culture is only true when implicitly critical, and the mind which forgets this revenges itself in the critics it breeds. Criticism is an indispensable element of culture.

Genuine things are those to which commodities and other means of exchange can be reduced, particularly gold. But like gold, genuineness, abstracted as the proportion of fine metal, becomes a fetish.

In sharp contrasts to traditional art, modern art does not hide the fact that it is something made and produced: on the contrary, it underscores the fact.

Jazz is the false liquidation of art — instead of utopia becoming reality it disappears from the picture.

Advice to intellectuals: let no-one represent you.

Dialectic thought is an attempt to break through the coercion of logic by its own means.

Happiness is obsolete: uneconomic.

In so far as the culture industry arouses a feeling of well-being that the world is precisely in that order suggested by the culture industry, the substitute gratification which it prepares for human beings cheats them out of the same happiness which it deceitfully projects.

Laughing in the cultural industry is mockery of happiness.

All morality has been modeled on immorality and to this day has reinstated it at every level. The slave morality is indeed bad: it is still the master morality.

Author Picture
First Name
Theodor W.
Last Name
Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund
Birth Date
1903
Death Date
1969
Bio

German Sociologist, Philosopher and Musicologist