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Theodor W. Adorno (/?'d??rno?/;[7] German: [a'd??

no]; born Theodor Ludwig

Wiesengrund; September 11, 1903 � August 6, 1969) was a German philosopher,
sociologist, and composer known for his critical theory of society.

He was a leading member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, whose work has
come to be associated with thinkers such as Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Max
Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse, for whom the works of Freud, Marx, and Hegel were
essential to a critique of modern society. He is widely regarded as one of the 20th
century's foremost thinkers on aesthetics and philosophy, as well as one of its
preeminent essayists. As a critic of both fascism and what he called the culture
industry, his writings�such as Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Minima Moralia
(1951) and Negative Dialectics (1966)�strongly influenced the European New Left.

Amidst the vogue enjoyed by existentialism and positivism in early 20th-century

Europe, Adorno advanced a dialectical conception of natural history that critiqued
the twin temptations of ontology and empiricism through studies of Kierkegaard and
Husserl. As a classically trained pianist whose sympathies with the twelve-tone
technique of Arnold Schoenberg resulted in his studying composition with Alban Berg
of the Second Viennese School, Adorno's commitment to avant-garde music formed the
backdrop of his subsequent writings and led to his collaboration with Thomas Mann
on the latter's novel Doctor Faustus, while the two men lived in California as
exiles during the Second World War. Working for the newly relocated Institute for
Social Research, Adorno collaborated on influential studies of authoritarianism,
antisemitism and propaganda that would later serve as models for sociological
studies the Institute carried out in post-war Germany.

Upon his return to Frankfurt, Adorno was involved with the reconstitution of German
intellectual life through debates with Karl Popper on the limitations of positivist
science, critiques of Heidegger's language of authenticity, writings on German
responsibility for the Holocaust, and continued interventions into matters of
public policy. As a writer of polemics in the tradition of Nietzsche and Karl
Kraus, Adorno delivered scathing critiques of contemporary Western culture.
Adorno's posthumously published Aesthetic Theory, which he planned to dedicate to
Samuel Beckett, is the culmination of a lifelong commitment to modern art which
attempts to revoke the "fatal separation" of feeling and understanding long
demanded by the history of philosophy and explode the privilege aesthetics accords
to content over form and contemplation over immersion.

1 Life and career
1.1 Early years: Frankfurt
1.2 Vienna, Frankfurt, and Berlin
1.3 Exile: Oxford, New York, Los Angeles
1.4 Post-war Europe
1.4.1 Return to Frankfurt University
1.4.2 Essays on Fascism
1.4.3 Public events
1.4.4 More essays on mass culture and literature
1.4.5 Public figure
1.4.6 Post-war German culture
1.4.7 Confrontations with students
2 Theory
2.1 Music
2.1.1 The five components of recognition
2.2 Marxist criticisms
3 Standardization
3.1 Adorno's responses to his critics
4 Adorno's sociological methods
5 Adorno translated into English
6 Works
6.1 Musical works
7 See also
8 References
9 External links
Life and career
Early years: Frankfurt
Theodor W. Adorno (alias: Theodor Adorno-Wiesengrund) was born as Theodor Ludwig
Wiesengrund in Frankfurt am Main on September 11, 1903, the only child of Oscar
Alexander Wiesengrund (1870�1946) and Maria Calvelli-Adorno della Piana
(1865�1952). His mother, a devout Catholic from Corsica, was once a professional
singer, while his father, an assimilated Jew who had converted to Protestantism,
ran a successful wine-export business. Proud of her origins, Maria wanted her son's
paternal surname to be supplemented by the addition of her own name: Adorno. Thus
his earliest publications carried the name Theodor Wiesengrund-Adorno; upon his
application for US citizenship, his name was modified to Theodor W. Adorno. His
childhood was marked by the musical life provided by his mother and aunt: Maria was
a singer who could boast of having performed in Vienna at the Imperial Court, while
her sister, Agathe, who lived with them, had made a name for herself as both a
singer and pianist. He was not only a precocious child but, as he recalled later in
life, a child prodigy who could play pieces by Beethoven on the piano by the time
he was twelve.[8] At the age of six, he attended the Deutschherren middle school
before transferring to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gymnasium, where he studied from 1913 to
1921. Prior to his graduation at the top of his class, Adorno was already swept up
by the revolutionary mood of the time, as is evidenced by his reading of Georg
Luk�cs's The Theory of the Novel that year, as well as by his fascination with
Ernst Bloch's The Spirit of Utopia, of which he would later write:

Bloch's was a philosophy that could hold its head high before the most advanced
literature; a philosophy that was not calibrated to the abominable resignation of
methodology ... I took this motif so much as my own that I do not believe I have
ever written anything without reference to it, either implicit or explicit.[9]

Yet Adorno's intellectual nonconformism was no less shaped by the repugnance he

felt towards the nationalism which swept through the Reich during the First World
War. Along with future collaborators like Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, and
Ernst Bloch, Adorno was profoundly disillusioned by the ease with which Germany's
intellectual and spiritual leaders�among them Max Weber, Max Scheler, Georg Simmel,
as well as his friend Siegfried Kracauer�came out in support of the war. The
younger generation's distrust for traditional knowledge arose from the way in which
this tradition had discredited itself.[10] Over time, Oscar Wiesengrund's firm
established close professional and personal ties with the factory of Karplus &
Herzberger in Berlin. The eldest daughter of the Karplus family, Margarete, or
Gretel, moved in the intellectual circles of Berlin, where she was acquainted with
Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht and Ernst Bloch, each of whom Adorno would become
familiar with during the mid-20s; after fourteen years, Gretel and Theodor were
married in 1937. At the end of his schooldays, Adorno not only benefited from the
rich concert offerings of Frankfurt�where one could hear performances of works by
Schoenberg, Schreker, Stravinsky, Bart�k, Busoni, Delius and Hindemith�but also
began studying music composition at the Hoch Conservatory while taking private
lessons with well-respected composers Bernhard Sekles and Eduard Jung. At around
the same time, he befriended Siegfried Kracauer, the Frankfurter Zeitung's literary
editor, of whom he would later write:

For years Kracauer read [Kant's] Critique of Pure Reason with me regularly on
Saturday afternoons. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I owe
more to this reading than to my academic teachers ... Under his guidance I
experienced the work from the beginning not as mere epistemology, not as an
analysis of the conditions of scientifically valid judgments, but as a kind of
coded text from which the historical situation of spirit could be read, with the
vague expectation that in doing so one could acquire something of truth itself.[11]

Academic genealogy
Notable teachers
Hans Cornelius
Notable students
J�rgen Habermas
Leaving gymnasium to study philosophy, psychology and sociology at Johann Wolfgang
Goethe University in Frankfurt, Adorno continued his readings with Kracauer,
turning now to Hegel and Kierkegaard, and began publishing concert reviews and
pieces of music for distinguished journals like the Zeitschrift f�r Musik, the Neue
Bl�tter f�r Kunst und Literatur and later for the Musikbl�tter des Anbruch. In
these articles, Adorno championed avant-garde music at the same time as he
critiqued the failings of musical modernity, as in the case of Stravinsky's The
Soldier's Tale, which he called in 1923 a "dismal Bohemian prank."[12] In these
early writings, he was unequivocal in his condemnation of performances which either
sought or pretended to achieve a transcendence which Adorno, in line with many
intellectuals of the time, regarded as impossible: "No cathedral," he wrote, "can
be built if no community desires one."[13] In the summer of 1924, Adorno received
his doctorate with a study of Edmund Husserl under the direction of the unorthodox
neo-Kantian Hans Cornelius. Before his graduation, Adorno had already met with his
most important intellectual collaborators, Max Horkheimer and Walter Benjamin.
Through Cornelius's seminars, Adorno met his future collaborator Max Horkheimer,
through whom he was then introduced to Friedrich Pollock.

Vienna, Frankfurt, and Berlin

During the summer of 1924, the Viennese composer Alban Berg's Three Fragments from
Wozzeck, op. 7 premiered in Frankfurt, at which time Adorno introduced himself to
Berg and both agreed the young philosopher and composer would study with Berg in
Vienna. Upon moving to Vienna in February 1925, Adorno immersed himself in the
musical culture which had grown up around Schoenberg: in addition to his twice-
weekly sessions with Berg, Adorno continued his studies on piano with Eduard
Steuermann and befriended the violinist Rudolf Kolisch. In Vienna, he attended
public lectures of the satirist Karl Kraus with Berg and met Luk�cs, who had been
living in Vienna after the failure of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Alban Berg,
the man Adorno referred to as "my master and teacher," was among the most prescient
of his young pupil's early friends:

[I am] convinced that, in the sphere of the deepest understanding of music ... you
are capable of supreme achievements and will undoubtedly fulfill this promise in
the shape of great philosophical works.[14]

After leaving Vienna, Adorno traveled through Italy, where he met with Kracauer,
Benjamin, and the economist Alfred Sohn-Rethel, with whom he developed a lasting
friendship, before returning to Frankfurt. In December 1926 Adorno's "Two Pieces
for String Quartet," op. 2 were performed in Vienna, which provided a welcome
interruption from his preparations for the Habilitation. After writing the "Piano
Pieces in strict twelve-tone technique," as well as songs later integrated into the
Six Bagatelles for Voice and Piano, op. 6, Adorno presented his Habilitation
manuscript, The Concept of the Unconscious in the Transcendental Theory of the
Psyche (Der Begriff des Unbewu�ten in der transzendentalen Seelenlehre), to
Cornelius in November 1927. Cornelius advised Adorno to withdraw his application on
the grounds that the manuscript was too close to his own way of thinking. In this
manuscript, Adorno attempted to underline the epistemological status of the
unconscious as it emerged from Freud's early writings. Against the function of the
unconscious in both Nietzsche and Spengler, Adorno argued that Freud's notion of
the unconscious serves as a "sharp weapon ... against every attempt to create a
metaphysics of the instincts and to deify full, organic nature."[15] Undaunted by
his academic prospects, Adorno threw himself once again into composition. In
addition to publishing numerous reviews of opera performances and concerts,
Adorno's "Four Songs for Medium Voice and Piano", op. 3 was performed in Berlin in
January 1929. Between 1928 and 1930 Adorno took on a greater role within the
editorial committee of the Musikbl�tter des Anbruch. In a proposal for transforming
the journal, Adorno sought to use Anbruch for championing radical modern music
against what he called the "stabilized music" of Pfitzner, the later Strauss, as
well as the neoclassicism of Stravinsky and Hindemith. During this period he
published the essays "Night Music", "On Twelve-Tone Technique" and "Reaction and
Progress". Yet his reservations about twelve-tone orthodoxy became steadily more
pronounced: According to Adorno, twelve-tone technique's use of atonality can no
more be regarded as an authoritative canon than can tonality be relied on to
provide instructions for the composer.

At this time, Adorno struck up a correspondence with the composer Ernst Krenek,
with whom he discussed problems of atonality and twelve-tone technique. In a letter
of 1934 Adorno sounded a related criticism of Schoenberg:

Twelve-tone technique alone is nothing but the principle of motivic elaboration and
variation, as developed in the sonata, but elevated now to a comprehensive
principle of construction, namely transformed into an a priori form and, by that
token, detached from the surface of the composition.[16]

At this point Adorno reversed his earlier priorities: now his musical activities
came second to the development of a philosophical theory of aesthetics. Thus, in
the middle of 1929 he accepted Paul Tillich's offer to present an Habilitation on
Kierkegaard, which Adorno eventually submitted under the title The Construction of
the Aesthetic. At the time, Kierkegaard's philosophy exerted a strong influence,
chiefly through its claim to pose an alternative to Idealism and Hegel's philosophy
of history. Yet when Adorno turned his attention to Kierkegaard, watchwords like
"anxiety," "inwardness" and "leap"�instructive for existentialist philosophy�were
detached from their theological origins and posed, instead, as problems for
aesthetics.[17] As the work proceeded�and Kierkegaard's overcoming of Hegel's
idealism was revealed to be a mere interiorization�Adorno excitedly remarked in a
letter to Berg that he was writing without looking over his shoulder at the faculty
who would soon evaluate his work. Receiving favourable reports from Professors
Tillich and Horkheimer, as well as Benjamin and Kracauer, the University conferred
on Adorno the venia legendi in February 1931; on the very day his revised study was
published, 23 March 1933, Hitler seized dictatorial powers.[18]

Several months after qualifying as a lecturer in philosophy, Adorno delivered an

inaugural lecture at the Institute for Social Research, an independent organization
which had recently appointed Horkheimer as its director and, with the arrival of
the literary scholar Leo Lowenthal, social psychologist Erich Fromm and philosopher
Herbert Marcuse, sought to exploit recent theoretical and methodological advances
in the social sciences. His lecture, "The Actuality of Philosophy," created a
scandal. In it, Adorno not only deviated from the theoretical program Horkheimer
had laid out a year earlier, but challenged philosophy's very capacity for
comprehending reality as such: "For the mind," Adorno announced, "is indeed not
capable of producing or grasping the totality of the real, but it may be possible
to penetrate the detail, to explode in miniature the mass of merely existing
reality."[19] In line with Benjamin's The Origin of German Tragic Drama and
preliminary sketches of the Arcades Project, Adorno likened philosophical
interpretation to experiments which should be conducted "until they arrive at
figurations in which the answers are legible, while the questions themselves
vanish." Having lost its position as the Queen of the Sciences, philosophy must now
radically transform its approach to objects so that it might "construct keys before
which reality springs open."[20]
Following Horkheimer's taking up the directorship of the Institute, a new journal,
Zeitschrift f�r Sozialforschung, was produced to publish the research of Institute
members both before and after its relocation to the United States. Though Adorno
was not himself an Institute member, the journal nevertheless published many of his
essays, including "The Social Situation of Music" (1932), "On Jazz" (1936), "On the
Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening" (1938) and "Fragments on
Wagner" (1938). In his new role as social theorist, Adorno's philosophical analysis
of cultural phenomena heavily relied on the language of historical materialism, as
concepts like reification, false consciousness and ideology came to play an ever
more prominent role in his work. At the same time, however, and owing to both the
presence of another prominent sociologist at the Institute, Karl Mannheim, as well
as the methodological problem posed by treating objects�like "musical material"�as
ciphers of social contradictions, Adorno was compelled to abandon any notion of
"value-free" sociology in favour of a form of ideology critique which held on to an
idea of truth. Before his emigration in autumn 1934, Adorno began work on a
Singspiel based on Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer entitled The Treasure
of Indian Joe, which he would, however, never complete; by the time he fled
Hitler's Germany Adorno had already written over a hundred opera or concert reviews
and an additional fifty critiques of music composition.

As the Nazi party became the largest party in the Reichstag Horkheimer's 1932
observation proved typical for his milieu: "Only one thing is certain", he wrote,
"the irrationality of society has reached a point where only the gloomiest
predictions have any plausibility."[21] In September Adorno's right to teach was
revoked; in March, as the swastika was run up the flag pole of town hall, the
Institute's offices were searched by the Frankfurt criminal police. Adorno's house
on Seeheimer Strasse was similarly searched in July and his application for
membership in the Reich Chamber of Literature was denied on the grounds that
membership was limited to "persons who belong to the German nation by profound ties
of character and blood. As a non-Aryan," he was informed, "you are unable to feel
and appreciate such an obligation."[22] Soon afterwards Adorno was forced into
fifteen years of exile.

Exile: Oxford, New York, Los Angeles

After the possibility of transferring his habilitation to the University of Vienna
came to nothing, Adorno considered relocating to Britain upon his father's
suggestion. With the help of the Academic Assistance Council, Adorno registered as
an advanced student at Merton College, Oxford, in June 1934. During the next four
years at Oxford, Adorno made repeated trips to Germany to see both his parents and
Gretel, who was still working in Berlin. Under the direction of Gilbert Ryle,
Adorno worked on a dialectical critique of Husserl's epistemology. By this time,
the Institute for Social Research had relocated to New York City and began making
overtures to Adorno. After months of strained relations, Horkheimer and Adorno
reestablished their essential theoretical alliance during meetings in Paris. Adorno
continued writing on music, publishing "The Form of the Phonograph Record" and
"Crisis of Music Criticism" with the Viennese musical journal 23, "On Jazz" in the
Institute's Zeitschrift, "Farewell to Jazz" in Europ�ische Revue. Yet Adorno's
attempts to break out of the sociology of music were, at this time, twice thwarted:
neither the study of Mannheim he had been working on for years nor extracts from
his study of Husserl were accepted by the Zeitschrift. Impressed by Horkheimer's
book of aphorisms, Dawn and Decline, Adorno began working on his own book of
aphorisms, what would later become Minima Moralia. While at Oxford, Adorno suffered
two great losses: his Aunt Agathe died in June 1935, while Alban Berg died in
December of the same year. To the end of his life, Adorno never abandoned the hope
of completing Berg's unfinished Lulu.

At this time, Adorno was in intense correspondence with Walter Benjamin on the
subject of the latter's Arcades Project. After receiving an invitation from
Horkheimer to visit the Institute in New York, Adorno sailed for New York on June
9, 1937 and stayed there for two weeks. While in New York, Max Horkheimer's essays
"The Latest Attack on Metaphysics" and "Traditional and Critical Theory," which
would soon become instructive for the Institute's self-understanding, were the
subject of intense discussion. Soon after his return to Europe, Gretel moved to
Britain, where she and Adorno were married on September 8, 1937; a little over a
month later, Horkheimer telegrammed from New York with news of a position Adorno
could take up with the Princeton Radio Project, then under the directorship of the
Austrian sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. Yet Adorno's work continued with studies of
Beethoven and Richard Wagner (published in 1939 as "Fragments on Wagner"), drafts
of which he read to Benjamin during their final meeting, in December on the Italian
Riviera. According to Benjamin, these drafts were astonishing for "the precision of
their materialist deciphering," as well as the way in which "musical facts ... had
been made socially transparent in a way that was completely new to me."[23] In his
Wagner study, the thesis later to characterize Dialectic of Enlightenment�man's
domination of nature�first emerges. Adorno sailed for New York on February 16,
1938. Soon after settling into his new home on Riverside Drive, Adorno met with
Lazarsfeld in Newark to discuss the Project's plans for investigating the impact of
broadcast music.

Although he was expected to embed the Project's research within a wider theoretical
context, it soon became apparent that the Project was primarily concerned with data
collection to be used by administrators for establishing whether groups of
listeners could be targeted by broadcasts specifically aimed at them. Expected to
make use of devices with which listeners could press a button to indicate whether
they liked or disliked a particular piece of music, Adorno bristled with distaste
and astonishment: "I reflected that culture was simply the condition that precluded
a mentality that tried to measure it."[24] Thus Adorno suggested using individual
interviews to determine listener reactions and, only three months after meeting
Lazarsfeld, completed a 160-page memorandum on the Project's topic, "Music in
Radio." Adorno was primarily interested in how the musical material was affected by
its distribution through the medium of radio and thought it imperative to
understand how music was affected by its becoming part of daily life. "The meaning
of a Beethoven symphony," he wrote, "heard while the listener is walking around or
lying in bed is very likely to differ from its effect in a concert-hall where
people sit as if they were in church."[25] In essays published by the Institute's
Zeitschrift, Adorno dealt with that atrophy of musical culture which had become
instrumental in accelerating tendencies�towards conformism, trivialization and
standardization�already present in the larger culture. Unsurprisingly, Adorno's
studies found little resonance among members of the project. At the end of 1939,
when Lazarsfeld submitted a second application for funding, the musical section of
the study was duly left out. Yet during the two years during which he worked on the
Project, Adorno was nevertheless prolific, publishing "The Radio Symphony", "A
Social Critique of Radio Music", and "On Popular Music", texts which, along with
the draft memorandum and other unpublished writings, are now found in Robert
Hullot-Kentor's recent translation, Current of Music. In light of this situation,
Horkheimer soon found a permanent post for Adorno at the Institute.

In addition to helping with the Zeitschrift, Adorno was expected to be the

Institute's liaison with Benjamin, who soon passed on to New York the study of
Charles Baudelaire he hoped would serve as a model of the larger Arcades Project.
In correspondence, the two men discussed the difference in their conceptions of the
relationship between critique and artworks which had become manifest through
Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility". At around
the same time Adorno and Horkheimer began planning for a joint work on "dialectical
logic", which would later become Dialectic of Enlightenment. Alarmed by reports
from Europe, where Adorno's parents suffered increasing discrimination and Benjamin
was interned in Colombes, their joint study could entertain few delusions about its
practical effects. "In view of what is now threatening to engulf Europe,"
Horkheimer wrote, "our present work is essentially destined to pass things down
through the night that is approaching: a kind of message in a bottle."[26] As
Adorno continued his work in New York with radio talks on music and a lecture on
S�ren Kierkegaard's doctrine of love, Benjamin fled Paris and attempted to make an
illegal border crossing. After learning that his Spanish visa was invalid and
fearing deportation back to France, Benjamin took an overdose of morphine tablets.
In light of recent events, the Institute set about formulating a theory of
antisemitism and fascism. On one side were those who supported Franz Neumann's
thesis according to which National Socialism was a form of "monopoly capital"; on
the other were those who supported Friedrich Pollock's "state capitalist theory."
Horkheimer's contributions to this debate, in the form of the essays "The
Authoritarian State", "The End of Reason", and "The Jews and Europe" served as a
foundation for what he and Adorno planned to do in their book on dialectical logic.

In November 1941 Adorno followed Horkheimer to what Thomas Mann called "German
California",[27] setting up house in a Pacific Palisades neighborhood of German
�migr�s which included Bertolt Brecht and Arnold Schoenberg. Adorno arrived with a
draft of his Philosophy of New Music, a dialectical critique of twelve-tone music,
which Adorno himself felt, while writing, was already a departure from the theory
of art he had spent the previous decades elaborating. Horkheimer's reaction to the
manuscript was wholly positive: "If I have ever in the whole of my life felt
enthusiasm about anything, then I did on this occasion," he wrote after reading the
manuscript.[28] The two set about completing their joint work, which transformed
itself from a book on dialectical logic to a rewriting of the history of
rationality and the Enlightenment. First published in a small mimeographed edition
in May 1944 as Philosophical Fragments, the text would wait another three years
before achieving book form when it was published with its definitive title,
Dialectic of Enlightenment, by the Amsterdam publisher Querido Verlag. This
"reflection on the destructive aspect of progress" proceeded through the chapters
which treated rationality as both the liberation from and further domination of
nature, interpretations of both Homer's Odyssey and the Marquis de Sade, as well as
analyses of the culture industry and antisemitism.

With their joint work completed, the two turned their attention to studies on
antisemitism and authoritarianism in collaboration with the Nevitt Sanford-led
Public Opinion Study Group and the American Jewish Committee. In line with these
studies, Adorno produced an analysis of the Californian radio preacher Martin
Luther Thomas. Fascist propaganda of this sort, Adorno wrote, "simply takes people
for what they are: genuine children of today's standardized mass culture who have
been robbed to a great extent of their autonomy and spontaneity"[29] The result of
these labors, the 1950 study The Authoritarian Personality was pioneering in its
combination of quantitative and qualitative methods of collecting and evaluating
data as well as its development of the F-scale.

After the USA entered the war in 1941, the situation of the �migr�s, now classed
"enemy aliens", became increasingly restricted. Forbidden from leaving their homes
between 8pm and 6am and prohibited from going more than five miles from their
houses, �migr�s like Adorno, who would not be naturalized until November 1943, were
severely restricted in their movements.

In addition to the aphorisms which conclude Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno put

together a collection of aphorisms in honor of Horkheimer's fiftieth birthday that
would later be published as Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life. These
fragmentary writings, inspired by a renewed reading of Nietzsche, treated issues
like emigration, totalitarianism, and individuality, as well as everyday matters
such as giving presents, dwelling and the impossibility of love. In California,
Adorno made the acquaintance of Charlie Chaplin and became friends with Fritz Lang
and Hanns Eisler, with whom he completed a study of film music in 1944. In this
study, the authors pushed for the greater usage of avant-garde music in film,
urging that music be used to supplement, not simply accompany, the visual aspect of
films. Additionally, Adorno assisted Thomas Mann on his novel Doctor Faustus after
the latter asked for his help. "Would you be willing," Mann wrote, "to think
through with me how the work�I mean Leverk�hn's work�might look; how you would do
it if you were in league with the Devil?"[30]

At the end of October 1949, Adorno left America for Europe just as The
Authoritarian Personality was being published. Before his return, Adorno had not
only reached an agreement with a T�bingen publisher to print an expanded version of
Philosophy of New Music, but completed two compositions: Four Songs for Voice and
Piano by Stefan George, op.7, and Three Choruses for Female Voices from the Poems
of Theodor D�ubler, op. 8.

Post-war Europe
Return to Frankfurt University
Upon his return, Adorno helped shape the political culture of West Germany. Until
his death in 1969, twenty years after his return, Adorno contributed to the
intellectual foundations of the Federal Republic, as a professor at Frankfurt
University, critic of the vogue enjoyed by Heideggerian philosophy, partisan of
critical sociology, and teacher of music at the Darmstadt International Summer
Courses for New Music. Adorno resumed his teaching duties at the university soon
after his arrival,[when?] with seminars on "Kant's Transcendental Dialectic",
aesthetics, Hegel, "Contemporary Problems in the Theory of Knowledge", and "The
Concept of Knowledge". Adorno's surprise at his students' passionate interest in
intellectual matters did not, however, blind him to continuing problems within
Germany: The literary climate was dominated by writers who had remained in Germany
during Hitler's rule, the government re-employed people who had been active in the
Nazi apparatus and people were generally loath to own up to their own collaboration
or the guilt they thus incurred. Instead, the ruined city of Frankfurt continued as
if nothing had happened,[citation needed] holding on to ideas of the true, the
beautiful, and the good despite the atrocities, hanging on to a culture that had
itself been lost in rubble or killed off in the concentration camps. All the
enthusiasm Adorno's students showed for intellectual matters could not erase the
suspicion that, in the words of Max Frisch, culture had become an "alibi" for the
absence of political consciousness.[31] Yet the foundations for what would come to
be known as "The Frankfurt School" were soon laid: Horkheimer resumed his chair in
social philosophy and the Institute for Social Research, rebuilt, became a
lightning rod for critical thought.

Essays on Fascism
Starting with his 1947 essay Wagner, Nietzsche and Hitler,[32] Adorno produced a
series of influential works to describe psychological fascist traits. One of these
works was The Authoritarian Personality (1950),[33] published as a contribution to
the Studies in Prejudice performed by multiple research institutes in the US, and
consisting of a 'qualitative interpretations' that uncovered the authoritarian
character of test persons through indirect questions.[citation needed] The books
have had a major influence on sociology and remain highly discussed and debated. In
1951 he continued on the topic with his essay Freudian Theory and the Pattern of
Fascist Propaganda, in which he said that "Psychological dispositions do not
actually cause fascism; rather, fascism defines a psychological area which can be
successfully exploited by the forces which promote it for entirely non-
psychological reasons of self-interest."[34]

In 1952 Adorno participated in a group experiment, revealing residual National

Socialist attitudes among the recently democratized Germans. He then published two
influential essays, The Meaning of Working Through the Past (1959), and Education
after Auschwitz (1966), in which he argued on the survival of the uneradicated
National Socialism in the mind-sets and institutions of the post-1945 Germany, and
that there is still a real risk that it could rise again.[35] Later on, however,
Jean Am�ry�who had been tortured at Auschwitz�would sharply object that Adorno,
rather than addressing such political concerns, was exploiting Auschwitz for his
metaphysical phantom "absolute negativity" ("absolute Negativit�t"), using a
language intoxicated by itself ("von sich selber bis zur Selbstblendung entz�ckte

Public events
In September 1951 Adorno returned to the United States for a six-week visit, during
which he attended the opening of the Hacker Psychiatry Foundation in Beverly Hills,
met Leo Lowenthal and Herbert Marcuse in New York and saw his mother for the last
time. After stopping in Paris, where he met Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Michel Leiris
and Ren� Leibowitz, Adorno delivered a lecture entitled "The Present State of
Empirical Social Research in Germany" at a conference on opinion research. Here he
emphasized the importance of data collection and statistical evaluation while
asserting that such empirical methods have only an auxiliary function and must lead
to the formation of theories which would "raise the harsh facts to the level of

With Horkheimer as dean of the Arts Faculty, then rector of the university,
responsibilities for the Institute's work fell upon Adorno. At the same time,
however, Adorno renewed his musical work: with talks at the Kranichsteiner
Musikgesellschaft, another in connection with a production of Ernst Krenek's opera
Leben des Orest, and a seminar on "Criteria of New Music" at the Fifth
International Summer Course for New Music at Kranichstein. Adorno also became
increasingly involved with the publishing house of Peter Suhrkamp, inducing the
latter to publish Benjamin's Berlin Childhood Around 1900, Kracauer's writings and
a two-volume edition of Benjamin's writings. Adorno's own recently published Minima
Moralia was not only well received in the press, but also met with great admiration
from Thomas Mann, who wrote to Adorno from America in 1952:

I have spent days attached to your book as if by a magnet. Every day brings new
fascination ... concentrated nourishment. It is said that the companion star to
Sirius, white in colour, is made of such dense material that a cubic inch of it
would weigh a tonne here. This is why it has such an extremely powerful
gravitational field; in this respect it is similar to your book.[38]

Yet Adorno was no less moved by other public events: protesting the publication of
Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat with its film title, The Blue Angel;
declaring his sympathy with those who protested the scandal of big-game hunting and
penning a defense of prostitutes.

More essays on mass culture and literature

Because Adorno's American citizenship would have been forfeited by the middle of
1952 had he continued to stay outside the country, he returned once again to Santa
Monica to survey his prospects at the Hacker Foundation. While there he wrote a
content analysis of newspaper horoscopes (now collected in The Stars Down to
Earth), and the essays "Television as Ideology" and "Prologue to Television"; even
so, he was pleased when, at the end of ten months, he was enjoined to return as co-
director of the Institute.

Back in Frankfurt, he renewed his academic duties and, from 1952 to 1954, completed
three essays: "Notes on Kafka", "Val�ry Proust Museum", and an essay on Schoenberg
following the composer's death, all of which were included in the 1955 essay
collection Prisms. In response to the publication of Thomas Mann's The Black Swan,
Adorno penned a long letter to the author, who then approved its publication in the
literary journal Akzente. A second collection of essays, Notes to Literature,
appeared in 1958. After meeting Samuel Beckett while delivering a series of
lectures in Paris the same year, Adorno set to work on "Trying to Understand
Endgame," which, along with studies of Proust, Val�ry, and Balzac, formed the
central texts of the 1961 publication of the second volume of his Notes to
Literature. Adorno's entrance into literary discussions continued in his June 1963
lecture at the annual conference of the H�lderlin Society. At the Philosophers'
Conference of October 1962 in M�nster, at which Habermas wrote that Adorno was "A
writer among bureaucrats", Adorno presented "Progress".[39]

Although the Zeitschrift was never revived, the Institute nevertheless published a
series of important sociological books, including Sociologica (1955), a collection
of essays, Gruppenexperiment (1955), Betriebsklima, a study of work satisfaction
among workers in Mannesmann, and Soziologische Exkurse, a textbook-like anthology
intended as an introductory work about the discipline.

Public figure
Throughout the fifties and sixties, Adorno became a public figure, not simply
through his books and essays, but also through his appearances in radio and
newspapers. In talks, interviews and round-table discussions broadcast on Hessen
Radio, South-West Radio and Radio Bremen, Adorno discussed topics as diverse as
"The Administered World" (September 1950), "What is the Meaning of 'Working Through
the Past?"' (February 1960) to "The Teaching Profession and its Taboos" (August
1965). Additionally, he frequently wrote for Frankfurter Allgemeine, Frankfurter
Rundschau and the weekly Die Zeit.

At the invitation of Wolfgang Steinecke, Adorno took part in the Darmstadt Summer
Courses for New Music in Kranichstein from 1951 to 1958. Yet conflicts between the
so-called Darmstadt school, which included composers like Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz
Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, Karel Goeyvaerts, Luciano Berio and
Gottfried Michael Koenig, soon arose, receiving explicit expression in Adorno's
1954 lecture, "The Aging of the New Music", where he argued that atonality's
freedom was being restricted to serialism in much the same way as it was once
restricted by twelve-tone technique. With his friend Eduard Steuermann, Adorno
feared that music was being sacrificed to stubborn rationalization. During this
time Adorno not only produced a significant series of notes on Beethoven (which was
never completed and only published posthumously), but also published Mahler: A
Musical Physiognomy in 1960. In his 1961 return to Kranichstein, Adorno called for
what he termed a "musique informelle", which would possess the ability "really and
truly to be what it is, without the ideological pretense of being something else.
Or rather, to admit frankly the fact of non-identity and to follow through its
logic to the end."[40]

Post-war German culture

At the same time Adorno struck up relationships with contemporary German-language
poets such as Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann. Adorno's 1949 dictum�"To write
poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric"�posed the question of what German culture could
mean after Auschwitz; his own continual revision of this dictum�in Negative
Dialectics, for example, he wrote that "Perennial suffering has as much right to
expression as a tortured man has to scream"; while in "Commitment," he wrote in
1962 that the dictum "expresses in negative form the impulse which inspires
committed literature"�was part of post-war Germany's struggle with history and
culture. Adorno additionally befriended the writer and poet Hans Magnus
Enzensberger as well as the film-maker Alexander Kluge.

In 1963, Adorno was elected to the post of chairman of the German Sociological
Society, where he presided over two important conferences: in 1964, on "Max Weber
and Sociology" and in 1968 on "Late Capitalism or Industrial Society". A debate
launched in 1961 by Adorno and Karl Popper, later published as the Positivist
Dispute in German Sociology, arose out of disagreements at the 1959 14th German
Sociology Conference in Berlin.

Adorno's critique of the dominant climate of post-war Germany was also directed
against the pathos that had grown up around Heideggerianism, as practiced by
writers like Karl Jaspers and Otto Friedrich Bollnow, and which had subsequently
seeped into public discourse. His 1964 publication of The Jargon of Authenticity
took aim at the halo such writers had attached to words like "angst", "decision"
and "leap". After seven years of work, Adorno completed Negative Dialectics in
1966, after which, during the summer semester of 1967 and the winter semester of
1967�68, he offered regular philosophy seminars to discuss the book chapter by
chapter. Among the students at these seminars were the Americans Angela Davis and
Irving Wohlfarth. One objection which would soon take on ever greater importance,
was that critical thought must adopt the standpoint of the oppressed, to which
Adorno replied that negative dialectics was concerned "with the dissolution of
standpoint thinking itself."

Confrontations with students

At the time of Negative Dialectics' publication, the fragility of West German
democracy led to increasing student protests. Monopolistic trends in the media, an
educational crisis in the universities, the Shah of Iran's 1967 state visit, German
support for the war in Vietnam and the emergency laws combined to create a highly
unstable situation. Like many of his students, Adorno too opposed the emergency
laws, as well as the war in Vietnam, which, he said, proved the continued existence
of the "world of torture that had begun in Auschwitz".[41] The situation only
deteriorated with the police shooting of Benno Ohnesorg at a protest against the
Shah's visit. This death, as well as the subsequent acquittal of the responsible
officer, were both commented upon in Adorno's lectures. As politicization
increased, rifts developed within both the Institute's relationship with its
students as well as within the Institute itself. Soon Adorno himself would become
an object of the students' ire. At the invitation of Peter Szondi, Adorno was
invited to the Free University of Berlin to give a lecture on Goethe's Iphigenie in
Tauris. After a group of students marched to the lectern, unfurling a banner that
read "Berlin's left-wing fascists greet Teddy the Classicist," a number of those
present left the lecture in protest after Adorno refused to abandon his talk in
favour of discussing his attitude on the current political situation. Adorno
shortly thereafter participated in a meeting with the Berlin Sozialistischer
Deutscher Studentenbund (SDS) and discussed "Student Unrest" with Szondi on West
German Radio. But as 1968 progressed, Adorno became increasingly critical of the
students' disruptions to university life. His isolation was only compounded by
articles published in the magazine alternative, which, following the lead of Hannah
Arendt's articles in Merkur, claimed Adorno had subjected Benjamin to pressure
during his years of exile in Berlin and compiled Benjamin's Writings and Letters
with a great deal of bias. In response, Benjamin's longtime friend Gershom Scholem,
wrote to the editor of Merkur to express his disapproval of the "in part, shameful,
not to say disgraceful" remarks by Arendt.[42]

Relations between students and the West German state continued deteriorating. In
spring 1968, a prominent SDS spokesman, Rudi Dutschke, was gunned down in the
streets; in response, massive demonstrations took place, directed in particular
against the Springer Press, which had led a campaign to vilify the students. An
open appeal published in Die Zeit, signed by Adorno, called for an inquiry into the
social reasons that gave rise to this assassination attempt as well as an
investigation into the Springer Press' manipulation of public opinion. At the same
time, however, Adorno protested against disruptions of his own lectures and refused
to express his solidarity with their political goals, maintaining instead his
autonomy as a theoretician. Adorno rejected the so-called unity of theory and
praxis advocated by the students and argued that the students' actions were
premised upon a mistaken analysis of the situation. The building of barricades, he
wrote to Marcuse, is "ridiculous against those who administer the bomb."[43]

In September 1968 Adorno went to Vienna for the publication of Alban Berg: Master
of the Smallest Link. Upon his return to Frankfurt, events prevented his
concentrating upon the book on aesthetics he wished to write: "Valid student claims
and dubious actions," he wrote to Marcuse, "are all so mixed up together that all
productive work and even sensible thought are scarcely possible any more."[44]
After striking students threatened to strip the Institute's sociology seminar rooms
of their furnishings and equipment, the police were brought in to close the

Adorno began writing an introduction to a collection of poetry by Rudolf Borchardt,

which was connected with a talk entitled "Charmed Language," delivered in Zurich,
followed by a talk on aesthetics in Paris where he met Beckett again. Beginning in
October 1966, Adorno took up work on Aesthetic Theory. In June 1969 he completed
Catchwords: Critical Models. During the winter semester of 1968�69 Adorno was on
sabbatical leave from the university and thus able to dedicate himself to the
completion of his book of aesthetics.

For the summer semester Adorno planned a lecture course entitled "An Introduction
to Dialectical Thinking," as well as a seminar on the dialectics of subject and
object. But at the first lecture Adorno's attempt to open up the lecture and invite
questions whenever they arose degenerated into a disruption from which he quickly
fled: after a student wrote on the blackboard "If Adorno is left in peace,
capitalism will never cease," three women students approached the lectern, bared
their breasts and scattered flower petals over his head.[45] Yet Adorno continued
to resist blanket condemnations of the protest movement which would have only
strengthened the conservative thesis according to which political irrationalism was
the result of Adorno's teaching. After further disruptions to his lectures, Adorno
canceled the lectures for the rest of the seminar, continuing only with his
philosophy seminar. In the summer of 1969, weary from these activities, Adorno
returned once again to Zermatt, Switzerland, at the foot of Matterhorn to restore
his strength. On August 6 he died of a heart attack.

Part of a series on the
Frankfurt School
Theorists of the Frankfurt School
Major works
Reason and Revolution
The Work of Art in the
Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Eclipse of Reason
Escape from Freedom
Minima Moralia
Eros and Civilization
One-Dimensional Man
Negative Dialectics
The Structural Transformation
of the Public Sphere
The Theory of Communicative Action
Dialectic of Enlightenment
Notable theorists
Herbert Marcuse � Theodor Adorno
Max Horkheimer � Walter Benjamin
Erich Fromm � Friedrich Pollock
Leo L�wenthal � J�rgen Habermas
Alfred Schmidt � Axel Honneth Siegfried Kracauer � Otto Kirchheimer
Important concepts
Critical theory � Dialectic � Praxis
Psychoanalysis � Antipositivism
Popular culture � Culture industry
Advanced capitalism
Privatism � Non-identity
Communicative rationality
Legitimation crisis
v t e
Adorno's work sets out from a central insight he shares with all early 20th century
avant-garde art: the recognition of what is primitive in ourselves and the world
itself. Neither Picasso's fascination with African sculpture nor Mondrian's
reduction of painting to its most elementary component�the line�is comprehensible
outside this concern with primitivism Adorno shared with the century's most radical
art. At that time, the Western world, beset by world-wars, colonialist
consolidation and accelerating commodification, sank into the very barbarism
civilization had prided itself in overcoming. According to Adorno, society's self-
preservation had become indistinguishable from societally sanctioned self-
sacrifice: of "primitive" peoples, primitive aspects of the ego and those
primitive, mimetic desires found in imitation and sympathy. Adorno's theory
proceeds from an understanding of this primitive quality of reality which seeks to
counteract whatever aims either to repress this primitive aspect or to further
those systems of domination set in place by this return to barbarism. From this
perspective, Adorno's writings on politics, philosophy, music and literature are a
lifelong critique of the ways in which each tries to justify self-mutilation as the
necessary price of self-preservation. According to Adorno's translator Robert
Hullot-Kentor, the central motive of Adorno's work thus consists in determining
"how life could be more than the struggle for self-preservation".[46] In this
sense, the principle of self-preservation, Adorno writes in Negative Dialectics, is
nothing but "the law of doom thus far obeyed by history."[47] At its most basic,
Adorno's thought is motivated by a fundamental critique of this law.

Adorno was chiefly influenced by Max Weber's critique of disenchantment, Georg

Luk�cs's Hegelian interpretation of Marxism, as well as Walter Benjamin's
philosophy of history. Adorno, along with the other major Frankfurt School
theorists Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse, argued that advanced capitalism had
managed to contain or liquidate the forces that would bring about its collapse and
that the revolutionary moment, when it would have been possible to transform it
into socialism, had passed. As he put it at the beginning of his Negative
Dialectics (1966), philosophy is still necessary because the time to realise it was
missed. Adorno argued that capitalism had become more entrenched through its attack
on the objective basis of revolutionary consciousness and through liquidation of
the individualism that had been the basis of critical consciousness.

Adorno criticized jazz and popular music, viewing it as part of the culture
industry, that contributes to the present sustainability of capitalism by rendering
it "aesthetically pleasing" and "agreeable".[48]

In his early essays for the Vienna-based journal Anbruch, Adorno claimed that
musical progress is proportional to the composer's ability to constructively deal
with the possibilities and limitations contained within what Adorno called the
"musical material." For Adorno, twelve-tone serialism constitutes a decisive,
historically developed method of composition. The objective validity of
composition, according to Adorno, rests with neither the composer's genius nor the
work's conformity with prior standards, but with the way in which the work
coherently expresses the dialectic of the material. In this sense, the contemporary
absence of composers of the status of Bach or Beethoven is not the sign of musical
regression; instead, new music is to be credited with laying bare aspects of the
musical material previously repressed: The musical material's liberation from
number, the harmonic series and tonal harmony. Thus, historical progress is
achieved only by the composer who "submits to the work and seemingly does not
undertake anything active except to follow where it leads." Because historical
experience and social relations are embedded within this musical material, it is to
the analysis of such material that the critic must turn. In the face of this
radical liberation of the musical material, Adorno came to criticize those who,
like Stravinsky, withdrew from this freedom by taking recourse to forms of the past
as well as those who turned twelve-tone composition into a technique which dictated
the rules of composition.

Adorno saw the culture industry as an arena in which critical tendencies or

potentialities were eliminated. He argued that the culture industry, which produced
and circulated cultural commodities through the mass media, manipulated the
population. Popular culture was identified as a reason why people become passive;
the easy pleasures available through consumption of popular culture made people
docile and content, no matter how terrible their economic circumstances.
"Capitalist production so confines them, body and soul, that they fall helpless
victims to what is offered them."[49] The differences among cultural goods make
them appear different, but they are in fact just variations on the same theme. He
wrote that "the same thing is offered to everybody by the standardized production
of consumption goods" but this is concealed under "the manipulation of taste and
the official culture's pretense of individualism".[50] By doing so, the culture
industry appeals to every single consumer in a unique and personalized way, all
while maintaining minimal costs and effort on their behalf. Consumers purchase the
illusion that every commodity or product is tailored to the individual's personal
preference, by incorporating subtle modifications or inexpensive "add-ons" in order
to keep the consumer returning for new purchases, and therefore more revenue for
the corporation system. Adorno conceptualized this phenomenon as pseudo-
individualisation and the always-the-same.[citation needed]

Adorno's analysis allowed for a critique of mass culture from the left which
balanced the critique of popular culture from the right. From both
perspectives�left and right�the nature of cultural production was felt to be at the
root of social and moral problems resulting from the consumption of culture.
However, while the critique from the right emphasized moral degeneracy ascribed to
sexual and racial influences within popular culture, Adorno located the problem not
with the content, but with the objective realities of the production of mass
culture and its effects, e.g. as a form of reverse psychology.[citation needed]
Thinkers influenced by Adorno believe that today's society has evolved in a
direction foreseen by him, especially in regard to the past (Auschwitz), morals, or
the Culture Industry. The latter has become a particularly productive, yet highly
contested term in cultural studies. Many of Adorno's reflections on aesthetics and
music have only just begun to be debated, as a collection of essays on the subject,
many of which had not previously been translated into English, has only recently
been collected and published as Essays on Music.[51]

Adorno's work in the years before his death was shaped by the idea of "negative
dialectics", set out especially in his book of that title. A key notion in the work
of the Frankfurt School since Dialectic of Enlightenment had been the idea of
thought becoming an instrument of domination that subsumes all objects under the
control of the (dominant) subject, especially through the notion of identity, i.e.
of identifying as real in nature and society only that which harmonized or fit with
dominant concepts, and regarding as unreal or non-existent everything that did not.
[citation needed] Adorno's "negative dialectics" was an attempt to articulate a
non-dominating thought that would recognize its limitations and accept the non-
identity and reality of that which could not be subsumed under the subject's
concepts. Indeed, Adorno sought to ground the critical bite of his sociological
work in his critique of identity, which he took to be a reification in thought of
the commodity form or exchange relation which always presumes a false identity
between different things. The potential to criticise arises from the gap between
the concept and the object, which can never go into the former without remainder.
This gap, this non-identity in identity, was the secret to a critique of both
material life and conceptual reflection.[citation needed]
Adorno's reputation as a musicologist has been in steady decline since his death.
His sweeping criticisms of jazz and championing of the Second Viennese School in
opposition to Stravinsky have caused him to fall out of favour. The distinguished
American scholar Richard Taruskin[52] declared Adorno to be "preposterously over-
rated." The eminent pianist and critic Charles Rosen saw Adorno's book The
Philosophy of New Music as "largely a fraudulent presentation, a work of polemic
that pretends to be an objective study." [53] Even a fellow Marxist such as the
historian and jazz critic Eric Hobsbawm saw Adorno's writings as containing "some
of the stupidest pages ever written about jazz".[54] The British philosopher Roger
Scruton saw Adorno as producing "reams of turgid nonsense devoted to showing that
the American people are just as alienated as Marxism requires them to be, and that
their cheerful life-affirming music is a �fetishized� commodity, expressive of
their deep spiritual enslavement to the capitalist machine." [55] Irritation with
Adorno's tunnel vision started even while he was alive. He may have championed
Schoenberg, but the composer notably failed to return the compliment: "I have never
been able to bear the fellow [...] It is disgusting, by the way, how he treats
Stravinsky." [56] On the other hand, the scholar Slavoj �i�ek has written a
foreword to Adorno's In Search of Wagner,[57] where �i�ek attributes an
"emancipatory impulse" to the same book, although �i�ek suggests that fidelity to
this impulse demands "a betrayal of the explicit theses of Adorno's Wagner

The five components of recognition

Adorno states that a start to understand the recognition in respect of any
particular song hit may be made by drafting a scheme which divides the experience
of recognition into its different components. All the factors people enumerate are
interwoven to a degree that would be impossible to separate from one another in
reality. Adorno's scheme is directed towards the different objective elements
involved in the experience of recognition, than the actual experience felt for the

Vague remembrance
Actual identification
Subsumption by label
Self-reflection and act of recognition
Psychological transfer of recognition-authority to the object
Marxist criticisms
According to Horst M�ller's Kritik der kritischen Theorie ("Critique of Critical
Theory"), Adorno posits totality as an automatic system. This is consistent with
Adorno's idea of society as a self-regulating system, from which one must escape
(but from which nobody can escape). For him it was existent, but inhuman. M�ller
argues against the existence of such a system and claims that Critical Theory
provides no practical solution for societal change. He concludes that J�rgen
Habermas, in particular, and the Frankfurt School in general, misconstrue Marx.
[citation needed]

The phenomenon of standardization is "a concept used to characterize the formulaic
products of capitalist-driven mass media and mass culture that appeal to the lowest
common denominator in pursuit of maximum profit".[60] According to Adorno we
inhabit a media culture driven society which has product consumption as one of its
main characteristics. Mass media is employed to deliver messages about products and
services to consumers in order to convince these individuals to purchase the
commodity they are advertising. Standardization consists of the production of large
amounts of commodities to then pursue consumers in order to gain the maximum profit

They do this, as mentioned above, by individualizing products to give the illusion

to consumers that they are in fact purchasing a product or service that was
specifically designed for them. Adorno highlights the issues created with the
construction of popular music, where different samples of music used in the
creation of today's chart-topping songs are put together in order to create, re-
create, and modify numerous tracks by using the same variety of samples from one
song to another. He makes a distinction between "Apologetic music" and "Critical
music". Apologetic music is defined as the highly produced and promoted music of
the "pop music" industry: music that is composed of variable parts and interchanged
to create several different songs. "The social and psychological functions of
popular music [are that it] acts like a social cement"[61] "to keep people obedient
and subservient to the status quo of existing power structures."[62]

Serious music, according to Adorno, achieves excellence when its whole is greater
than the sum of its parts. The example he gives is that of Beethoven's symphonies:
"[his] greatness shows itself in the complete subordination of the accidentally
private melodic elements to the form as a whole."[63][incomplete short citation]

Standardization not only refers to the products of the culture industry but to the
consumers as well: many times every day consumers are bombarded by media
advertising. Consumers are pushed and shoved into consuming products and services
presented to them by the media system. The masses have become conditioned by the
culture industry, which makes the impact of standardization much more important. By
not realizing the impact of social media and commercial advertising, the individual
is caught in a situation where conformity is the norm. "During consumption the
masses become characterized by the commodities which they use and exchange among

Adorno's responses to his critics

As a pioneer of a self-reflexive sociology who prefigured Bourdieu's ability to
factor in the effect of reflection on the societal object, Adorno realized that
some criticism (including deliberate disruption of his classes in the 1960s) could
never be answered in a dialogue between equals if, as he seems to have believed,
what the naive ethnographer or sociologist thinks of a human essence is always
changing over time.[65]

The "Adorno-Ampel" (Adorno-traffic light) on Senckenberganlage, a street which

divides the Institute for Social Research from Goethe University Frankfurt�Adorno
requested its construction after a pedestrian death in 1962, and it was finally
installed 25 years later.[66]
Adorno's sociological methods
As Adorno believed that sociology needs to be self-reflective and self-critical, he
also believed that the language the sociologist uses, like the language of the
ordinary person, is a political construct in large measure that uses, often
unreflectingly, concepts installed by dominant classes and social structures (such
as our notion of "deviance" which includes both genuinely deviant individuals and
"hustlers" operating below social norms because they lack the capital to operate
above: for an analysis of this phenomenon, cf. Pierre Bourdieu's book The Weight of
the World). He felt that those at the top of the Institute needed to be the source
primarily of theories for evaluation and empirical testing, as well as people who
would process the "facts" discovered...including revising theories that were found
to be false. For example, in an essay published in Germany on Adorno's return from
the USA, and reprinted in the Critical Models essays collection (ISBN 0-231-07635-
5), Adorno praised the egalitarianism and openness of US society based on his
sojourn in New York and the Los Angeles area between 1935 and 1955: "Characteristic
for the life in America [...]is a moment of peacefulness, kindness and generosity".
("Dem amerikanischen Leben eignet [...] ein Moment von Friedlichkeit, Gutartigkeit
und Gro�z�gigkeit".)[67]

One example of the clash of intellectual culture and Adorno's methods can be found
in Paul Lazarsfeld, the American sociologist for whom Adorno worked in the late
1930s after fleeing Hitler. As Rolf Wiggershaus recounts in The Frankfurt School,
Its History, Theories and Political Significance (MIT 1995), Lazarsfeld was the
director of a project, funded and inspired by David Sarnoff (the head of RCA), to
discover both the sort of music that listeners of radio liked and ways to improve
their "taste", so that RCA could profitably air more classical music. Lazarsfeld,
however, had trouble both with the prose style of the work Adorno handed in and
what Lazarsfeld thought was Adorno's "lack of discipline in ... presentation".[68]

Adorno himself provided the following personal anecdote:

What I mean by reified consciousness, I can illustrate�without elaborate

philosophical contemplation�most simply with an American experience. Among the
frequently changing colleagues which the Princeton Project provided me with, was a
young lady. After a few days, she had gained confidence in me, and asked most
kindly: "Dr Adorno, would you mind a personal question?". I said, "It depends on
the question, but just go ahead", and she went on: "Please tell me: are you an
extrovert or an introvert?". It was as if she, as a living being, already thought
according to the model of multi-choice questions in questionnaires.[69]

Adorno translated into English

While even German readers can find Adorno's work difficult to understand, an
additional problem for English readers is that his German idiom is particularly
difficult to translate into English. A similar difficulty of translation is true of
Hegel, Heidegger, and a number of other German philosophers and poets. As a result,
some early translators tended toward over-literalness. In recent years, Edmund
Jephcott and Stanford University Press have published new translations of some of
Adorno's lectures and books, including Introduction to Sociology, Problems of Moral
Philosophy and his transcribed lectures on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and
Aristotle's "Metaphysics", and a new translation of the Dialectic of Enlightenment.
Professor Henry Pickford, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, has translated
many of Adorno's works such as "The Meaning of Working Through the Past." A new
translation has also appeared of Aesthetic Theory and the Philosophy of New Music
by Robert Hullot-Kentor, from the University of Minnesota Press. Hullot-Kentor is
also currently working on a new translation of Negative Dialectics. Adorno's
correspondence with Alban Berg, Towards a Theory of Musical Reproduction, and the
letters to Adorno's parents, have been translated by Wieland Hoban and published by
Polity Press. These fresh translations are slightly less literal in their rendering
of German sentences and words, and are more accessible to English readers.[citation
needed] The Group Experiment, which had been unavailable to English readers, is now
available in an accessible translation by Jeffrey K. Olick and Andrew J. Perrin on
Harvard University Press, along with introductory material explaining its relation
to the rest of Adorno's work and 20th-century public opinion research.

Main article: Theodor W. Adorno bibliography
Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic (1933)
Dialectic of Enlightenment (with Max Horkheimer, 1944)
Composing for the Films (1947)
Philosophy of New Music (1949)
The Authoritarian Personality (1950)
Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life (1951)
In Search of Wagner (1952)
Prisms (1955)
Against Epistemology: A Metacritique; Studies in Husserl and the Phenomenological
Antinomies (1956)
Dissonanzen. Musik in der verwalteten Welt (1956)
Notes to Literature I (1958)
Sound Figures (1959)
Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy (1960)
Notes to Literature II (1961)
Hegel: Three Studies (1963)
Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (1963)
Quasi una Fantasia (1963)
The Jargon of Authenticity (1964)
Night Music: Essays on Music 1928�1962 (1964)
Negative Dialectics (1966)
Alban Berg: Master of the Smallest Link (1968)
Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (1969)
Aesthetic Theory (1970)
Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music; Fragments and Texts (1993)
The Psychological Technique of Martin Luther Thomas� Radio Addresses (2000)
Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' (2002)
Current of Music (2006)
Musical works
Kinderjahr � Piano piece
1921 � Piano piece
2 Pieces for string quartet, Op. 2
1934 � 3 Short Pieces for piano
7 short works for orchestra, Op.4
2 songs for voice & orchestra after Mark Twain's "Indian Joe"
2 songs with orchestra
3 stories by T D�ubler for female chorus
1921 � String quartet
1920 � 6 studies for string quartet
1919: F�r Sebastian Wedler