Adorno: A Biography

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'Even the biographical individual is a social category', wrote Adorno. ‘It can only be defined in a living context together with others.’ In this major new biography, Stefan Müller-Doohm turns this maxim back on Adorno himself and provides a rich and comprehensive account of the life and work of one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century.

This authoritative biography ranges across the whole of Adorno's life and career, from his childhood and student years to his years in emigration in the United States and his return to postwar Germany. At the same time, Muller-Doohm examines the full range of Adorno's writings on philosophy, sociology, literary theory, music theory and cultural criticism. Drawing on an array of sources from Adorno's personal correspondence with Horkheimer, Benjamin, Berg, Marcuse, Kracauer and Mann to interviews, notes and both published and unpublished writings, Muller-Doohm situates Adorno's contributions in the context of his times and provides a rich and balanced appraisal of his significance in the 20th Century as a whole.

Müller-Doohm's clear prose succeeds in making accessible some of the most complex areas of Adorno's thought. This outstanding biography will be the standard work on Adorno for years to come.

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About the author

Stefan Müller-Doohm isProfessor of Sociology at Oldenburg University, Germany.
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Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Nov 7, 2014
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Pages
648
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ISBN
9780745692746
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Philosophers
Philosophy / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Aristoxenus of Tarentum was reported to have been bitterly disappointed when Theophrastus was chosen instead of him to succeed Aristotle as the head of the Peripatetic School. He had a truly phenomenal output of some 453 volumes, most of which survive only in fragments. He was the most famous music theorist in antiquity and came to be referred to simply as “the musician.” In addition, he was a founder of Greek biography and wrote the life histories of Pythagoras, Archytas, Socrates, and Plato among others. This volume includes eleven selections, which are almost evenly divided between his work in music theory and biography. There is a chapter on his general biographical method as well as chapters on his specific treatments of the Pythagoreans, Socrates, and Plato. There are chapters evaluating the extent to which Aristoxenus was a historian of music, his account of music therapy, his views on musical “character,” the use of instruments and empiricism in his harmonic theory, and his relation to the “Neoclassical” Greek composers of the fourth century. This volume includes: “Did Aristoxenus Write Musical History?,” Andrew Barker; “Instruments and Empiricism in Aristoxenus’ Elementa harmonica,” David Creese; “Aristoxenus and Musical Ethos,” Eleonora Rocconi; “Aristoxenus and Music Therapy: Fr. 26 Wehrli Within the Tradition on Music and Catharsis,” Antonella Provenza; “Aristoxenus and the “Neoclassicists,” Timothy Power; “Apollonius on Theophrastus on Aristoxenus,” William W. Fortenbaugh; “Aristoxenus’ Biographical Method,” Stefan Schorn; “Aristoxenus and the Pythagoreans,” Leonid Zhmud; “Aristoxenus’ Life of Socrates,” Carl A. Huffman; “Aristoxenus’ Life of Plato,” John Dillon; and “Aristoxenus and the Early Academy,” Andrew Barker. Spanning close to three full decades, Transaction’s Rutgers University Studies in Classical Humanities Series continues to pioneer in the field of classical studies.
"Alain Daniélou is well-known to scholars in Oriental religion and linguistics. He is bound to become world famous as the author of a great autobiography, whose scenes and figures are of both the East and the West and whose psychology is conspicuously of our time. We are fortunate to have it in a faithful and eloquent translation"

—Jacques Barzun

An authority on Hinduism and renowned for his directorship of the Institute of Comparative Music Studies in Berlin and Venice, Alain Daniélou is also an accomplished pianist, dancer, player of the Indian vînâ, painter, linguist and translator, photographer, and world traveler. To these attainments he has added The Way to the Labyrinth––as vivid, uninhibited, and wide-ranging a memoir as one is ever likely to encounter, now translated and published in English for the first time. Born of a haute-bourgeoise French family––his mother an ardent Catholic, his father an anticlerical leftwing politician, his older brother a cardinal––Daniélou spent a solitary childhood. Escaping from his family milieu, he went to Paris, where he fell in with avant-garde, bohemian, sexually liberated circles, among whose luminaries were Cocteau, Diaghilev, Max Jacob, and Maurice Sachs. But however fervently he plunged into various activities, he felt some other destiny awaited him. After a number of journeys, some of them highly adventurous, he found his real home in India. He spent twenty years there, fifteen of them in Benares on the banks of the Ganges. There he immersed himself in the study of Sanskrit, Hindu philosophy, music, and the art of the ancient temples of Northern India, and converted to the Hindu religion. But times changed, and soon after India gained its independence, he returned to live again in Europe and devoted much of his great energy to the encouragement of traditional musics from around the world.
‘Jürgen Habermas’, wrote the American philosopher Ronald Dworkin on the occasion of the great European thinker’s eightieth birthday, ‘is not only the world’s most famous living philosopher. Even his fame is famous.’ Now, after many years of intensive research and in-depth conversations with contemporaries, colleagues and Habermas himself, Stefan Müller-Doohm presents the first comprehensive biography of one of the most important public intellectuals of our time. From his political and philosophical awakening in West Germany to the formative relationships with Adorno and Horkheimer, Müller-Doohm masterfully traces the major forces that shaped Habermas’s intellectual development. He shows how Habermas’s life and work were conditioned by the possibilities offered to his generation in the unique circumstances of regained freedom that characterized postwar Germany. And yet Habermas’s career is fascinating precisely because it amounts to more than a corpus of scholarly work, however original and influential that may be. For here is someone who continually left the protective space of the university in order to assume the role of a participant in controversial public debates Ð from the significance of the Holocaust to the future of Europe Ð and in this way sought to influence the development of social and political life in an arena much broader than the academy. The significance and virtuosity of Habermas’s many writings over the years are also fully and expertly documented, ranging from his early work on the public sphere to his more recent writings on communicative action, cosmopolitanism and the postnational condition. What emerges from this biography is a vivid portrait of one of the great public intellectuals of our time Ð a unique thinker who has made an immense and lasting philosophical contribution but who, when he perceives that society is not living up to its potential for creating free and just conditions for all, becomes one of its most rigorous and persistent critics.
This volume comprises one of the key lecture courses leading up to the publication in 1966 of Adorno's major work, Negative Dialectics. These lectures focus on developing the concepts critical to the introductory section of that book. They show Adorno as an embattled philosopher defining his own methodology among the prevailing trends of the time. As a critical theorist, he repudiated the worn-out Marxist stereotypes still dominant in the Soviet bloc – he specifically addresses his remarks to students who had escaped from the East in the period leading up to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Influenced as he was by the empirical schools of thought he had encountered in the United States, he nevertheless continued to resist what he saw as their surrender to scientific and mathematical abstraction. However, their influence was potent enough to prevent him from reverting to the traditional idealisms still prevalent in Germany, or to their latest manifestations in the shape of the new ontology of Heidegger and his disciples. Instead, he attempts to define, perhaps more simply and fully than in the final published version, a ‘negative', i.e. critical, approach to philosophy. Permeating the whole book is Adorno’s sense of the overwhelming power of totalizing, dominating systems in the post-Auschwitz world. Intellectual negativity, therefore, commits him to the stubborn defence of individuals – both facts and people – who stubbornly refuse to become integrated into ‘the administered world’.

These lectures reveal Adorno to be a lively and engaging lecturer. He makes serious demands on his listeners but always manages to enliven his arguments with observations on philosophers and writers such as Proust and Brecht and comments on current events. Heavy intellectual artillery is combined with a concern for his students’ progress.

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