Birth of German Philosopher Theodor Adorno Hot

Birth of German Philosopher Theodor Adorno

Theodor Adorno

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German philosopher Theodor Adorno (Theodor Ludwig Adorno-Wiesengrund) is born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, to a multi-faith family: his mother is a devout Catholic, and his father is an assimilated Jew who has converted to Protestantism.

He will write on a wide range of subjects, but on the whole his thinking will perhaps best be characterized as non-conformist and anti-traditional. He and many other young intellectuals will be horrified at the extent to which leading German thinkers become eager apologists for German nationalism and militarism during World War I. In the eyes of Adorno and like-minded young people, this discredits traditional knowledge and methods.

Adorno's interest in modern forms of media and entertainment were first aroused by this contact with Siegfried Kracauer, an early pioneer of critical writing about film. Adorno had not considered film to be a serious art form, but Kracauer convinced him otherwise, and this focus on modern art and modern media remained with him the rest of his life.

In his writings on aesthetics, Adorno will be especially critical of the state of art under capitalism. He argues that art is used in subtle and unrecognized ways to spread propaganda about the capitalist system and to perpetuate enslavement:

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

The culture industry piously claims to be guided by its customers and to supply them with what they ask for. But while assiduously dismissing any thought of its own autonomy and proclaiming its victims its judges, it outdoes in its veiled autocracy, all the excesses of autonomous art.

The culture industry not so much adapts to the reactions of its customers as it counterfeits them. It drills them in their attitudes as if it were itself a customer."

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Adorno on Popular Music (with english annotation)

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