Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

Theodor W.
Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund
1903
1969

German Sociologist, Philosopher and Musicologist

Author Quotes

Art is the social antithesis of society, not directly deducible from it.

Everything that has ever been called folk art has always reflected domination.

Horror is beyond the reach of psychology.

In the nineteenth century the Germans painted their dream and the outcome was invariably vegetable. The French needed only to paint a vegetable and it was already a dream.

Metaphysical categories are not merely an ideology concealing the social system; at the same time they express its nature, the truth about, and in their changes are precipitated those in its most central experiences.

Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.

Everywhere bourgeois society insists on the exertion of will; only love is supposed to be involuntary, pure immediacy of feeling. In its longing for this, which means a dispensation from work, the bourgeois idea of love transcends bourgeois society. But in erecting truth directly amid the general untruth, it perverts the former into the latter.

If across the Atlantic the ideology was pride, here it is delivering the goods.

Indeed, happiness is nothing other than being encompassed, an after-image of the original shelter within the mother. But for this reason no one who is happy can know that he is so. To see happiness, he would have to pass out of it: to be as if already born. He who says he is happy lies, and in invoking happiness, sins against it. He alone keeps faith who says: I was happy.

Beauty today can have no other measure except the depth to which a work resolves contradictions. A work must cut through the contradictions and overcome them, not by covering them up, but by pursuing them.

Exuberant health is always, as such, sickness also.

If the integration of society, particularly in totalitarian states, designates subjects more and more exclusively as partial moments in the network of material production, then the 'alteration of the technical composition of capital' is prolonged within those encompassed, and indeed constituted, by the technological demands of the production process. The organic composition of man is growing. That which determines subjects as means of production and not as living purposes, increases with the proportion of machines to variable capital.

Insane sects grow with the same rhythm as big organizations. It is the rhythm of total destruction.

Because thought has by now been perverted into the solving of assigned problems, even what is not assigned is processed like a problem.

Fascism is itself less 'ideological', in so far as it openly proclaims the principle of domination that is elsewhere concealed.

If time is money, it seems moral to save time, above all one's own, and such parsimony is excused by consideration for others. One is straight-forward.

Intelligence is a moral category.

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'.

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