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To think dialectly and non-dialectly: Theodor W. Adorno on interpretation and history

Grant number: 20/02171-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2020
Effective date (End): February 29, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy
Principal researcher:Ricardo Ribeiro Terra
Grantee:Felipe Ribeiro
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The present research project aims to support the hypothesis that the concept of interpretation has a determining role in Adorno's critical theory, since it allows to understand the author's relationship with the vestiges of unfulfilled emancipation left behind in the course of history. In the first place, we will seek to expose how this concept assumes such function in relation to a diagnosis of the present times elaborated in the post-war period, which leads to a review of the classic notion of critique of ideology. If this notion depends both on the ideal of transcendence contained in contemporary ideologies and on the productive forces' explosive potential as the material basis for the realization of that ideal, then the Adornian diagnosis according to which the productive forces were integrated in the relations of production also leads to the recognition of the weakening of the utopian force previously contained in the concept of ideology, which then loses its object. From that moment onwards, the idea of possible transcendence becomes, for Adorno, retrospective - or "memory of transcendence" - which is precisely the "canon" for philosophical interpretation. In second place, our hypothesis depends on the reconstruction of the interpretative function of the concept of natural history, which describes the means by which history, that was positively fostered by the critique of ideology, becomes second nature, a blind process, alienated and autonomous, while the natural, the archaic, becomes historical, meaning that it refers to what disappeared for being incompatible with history's violent course. This that disappeared, the transitory, is the object of philosophical interpretation, which then turns back to the vestiges of unfulfilled emancipation promises in order to, by means of constellations, the essay and fantasy, give expression to the non-identical, which serves as a protest against the course of history and a promise of something new. (AU)

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