This volume of lectures on aesthetics, given by Adorno in the winter semester of 1958 9, formed the foundation for his later Aesthetic Theory, widely regarded as one of his greatest works.
The lectures cover a wide range of topics, from an intense analysis of the work of Georg Lukacs to a sustained reflection on the theory of aesthetic experience, from an examination of works by Plato, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard and Benjamin, to a discussion of the latest experiments of John Cage, attesting to the virtuosity and breadth of Adorno's engagement. All the while, Adorno remains deeply connected to his surrounding context, offering us a window onto the artistic, intellectual and political confrontations that shaped life in post-war Germany.
This volume will appeal to a broad range of students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences, as well as anyone interested in the development of critical theory.
Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969), a prominent member of the Frankfurt School, was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century in the areas of social theory, philosophy and aesthetics.
Editor's Foreword LECTURE 1 The situation The possibility of philosophical aesthetics today The connection between philosophy and aesthetics in Kant Hegel's definition of beauty Aesthetic objectivity A critique of 'aesthetics from above' On the method The problem of aesthetic relativity The objectivity of aesthetic judgement Aesthetic logic The irrationality of art The work of art as an expression of naivete Basic research in the field of aesthetics LECTURE 2 Not a set of instructions The individualist prejudice Talent Resistance to aesthetics The poles of aesthetic insight: (a) Theoretical reflection; (b) The experience of artistic practice Against cultivatedness The riddle character A justification of the philosophy of art 'Aesthetics' is equivocal Natural beauty and artistic beauty Hegel's turn away from natural beauty Unresolved aspect to natural beauty LECTURE 3 The elusiveness of natural beauty The model character of natural beauty Aura The experiences of something objective 'Mood' The mediation of natural beauty and artistic beauty The historicity of natural beauty The sublime in Kant Aesthetic experience is dialectical in itself 'Disinterested pleasure' LECTURE 4 Special sphere of aesthetic semblance The taboo on desire Sublimation Dissonance 'Spring's command, sweet need' Mimesis Imitation Transition LECTURE 5 The separation of art from the real world Play and semblance 'The world once again' Art as 'unfolding of truth' The negation of the reality principle Expression of suffering The participation of art in the process of controlling nature Technique Progress LECTURE 6 Does art merely express what has been destroyed? Restoring the body Start from the most advanced art The expressive ideal of expressionism Principium stilisationis Construction The dialectic of expression and construction LECTURE 7 Nature is historical Construction and form A critique of the creator role The aversion to expression The reduction of the individual Falling silent after Auschwitz The crisis of meaning The limits of construction LECTURE 8 The crisis of meaning (contd.) Giving a voice to mutilated nature Expression of alienation Defamiliarization Consistency of construction Aleatory music The problem of characters LECTURE 9 The Platonic doctrine of beauty Introduction to an interpretation of the Phaedrus Enthousiasmos Beauty as a form of madness Being seized Pain as a constituent of the experience of beauty Not a definition Idea The subjectivity of beauty The imitation of the idea of beauty The aspect of danger in beauty LECTURE 10 Interpretation of the Phaedrus, contd. The paradox of beauty The image of beauty Affinity with death Elevating oneself above the contingent world Kant's theory of the sublime The sensual and the spiritual in art Force field LECTURE 11 Ontology and dialectic in Plato The relationship between beauty and art The aspect of ugliness The aspect of sensual pleasure Aesthetic experience 'Throw away in order to gain!' The meaning of the whole LECTURE 12 Recapitulation Enjoyment of art The inhabitant Fetishism Aesthetic enjoyment The suspension of the principium individuationis Understanding works of art LECTURE 13 Reflective co-enactment Aesthetic stupidity Translation, commentary, critique The spiritualization of art Constructivism The dialectic of sensual and spiritual aspects in the work of art LECTURE 14 Spiritual content The structural context Force field The allergy to sensual pleasure Aesthetics without beauty LECTURE 15 Correcting the definition of the work of art Alienation Reference to the object in visual art 'Abstract' art Form as sedimented content Loss of tension Theoretical preconditions of artistic experience LECTURE 16 Beauty and truth Naturalism Truth of expression Coherence Necessity The idea of beauty as something internally in motion Homeostasis The mediated truth LECTURE 17 Subjectivism and objectivism in aesthetics Hegel's critique of taste The physiognomy of the aesthete Gout quamd meme Accumulated experience Fashion LECTURE 18 A critique of aesthetic subjectivism A critique of psychological aesthetics Methodology The immediacy of subjective reactions is mediated The consumption of prestige The emotional relationship with art LECTURE 19 Recapitulation 'The Tired Businessman's Show' Conceptless synthesis The cognition of art Defensive reactions to modern art LECTURE 20 Recapitulation The rancour of those left behind towards new art Semi-literacy The alienation of modern art from consumption is itself social Lukacs's pseudo-realism The concept of ideology Kant's subjectivism A critique of the theory of aesthetic experience The ambiguity of the work of art LECTURE 21 Recovery of the truth The idea lies in the totality of aspects '... being completely filled with the matter' Experience The psychology of the artist Empathy The work of art as objectified spirit Artistic production Adorno's Notes for the Lectures Editor's Notes Index