History and Transcendence in Adorno’s Idea of Truth

Authored by: Lambert Zuidervaart

The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138333246
eBook ISBN: 9780429443374
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the idea of truth in Theodor W. Adorno’s Negative Dialectics. Focusing on the book’s concluding “Meditations on Metaphysics,” I show that a dialectic between history and transcendence is central to Adorno’s attempt to articulate a defensible idea of truth, despite and amid the collapse of metaphysics. I conclude by demonstrating an unavoidable tension between the idea Adorno has articulated and what a viable conception of propositional truth would require. Although his idea of truth rightly emphasizes the nexus of social hope and social critique, he cannot account for the predicative self-disclosure on which discursive criticism depends.

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