Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

Theodor W.
Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund
1903
1969

German Sociologist, Philosopher and Musicologist

Author Quotes

Every work of art is an uncommitted crime.

He who stands aloof runs the risk of believing himself better than others and misusing his critique of society as an ideology for his private interest. While he gropingly forms his own life in the frail image of a true existence, he should never forget its frailty, nor how little the image is a substitute for true life. Against such awareness, however, pulls the momentum of the bourgeois within him.

In the fanatical love of cars the feeling of physical homelessness plays a part. It is at the bottom of what the bourgeois were wont to call, mistakenly, the flight from oneself, from the inner void. Anyone who wants to move with the times is not allowed to be different. Psychological emptiness is itself only the result of the wrong kind of social absorption. The boredom that people are running away from merely mirrors the process of running away, that started long before.

Love is the power to see similarity in the dissimilar.

Art is permitted to survive only if it renounces the right to be different, and integrates itself into the omnipotent realm of the profane.

Everybody must have projects all the time. The maximum must be extracted from leisure ... The whole of life must look like a job, and by this resemblance conceal what is not yet directly devoted to pecuniary gain. -

History does not merely touch on language, but takes place in it.

In the innermost recesses of humanism, as its very soul, there rages a frantic prisoner who, as a Fascist, turns the world into a prison.

Love you will find only where you may show yourself weak without provoking strength.

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.

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