Philosophy from the Standpoint of Damaged Life: Adorno on the Ethical Character of Thinking




In this paper I reconstruct Theodor W. Adorno’s philosophy from the standpoint of damaged life, which is a rhetorical way of rethinking the normative force of the philosophical enterprise after, or in the face of, the trauma of Auschwitz. Adorno’s ethical response to damaged life is informed by the “wrong state of things” which, for him, is the basis for philosophy’s revaluation of its language and the activation of the ethical character of thinking. I will argue that far from being a pessimistic stance, Adorno’s position is an emphatic rethinking of the role of philosophy in a life that is seemingly devoid of hope—especially the hope of pre-modern metaphysics—and a recasting of philosophical thinking as a materially constituted ethics that is aware of its very own reflexivity and aporias. I reinforce Adorno’s position by invoking, albeit in a very provisionary way, Ernst Bloch’s notion of “anticipatory consciousness” which revivifies the former’s call for the possibility of thinking the just life.

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By