File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0307, message 43

Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 12:06:08 -0400
Subject: Re: BHA: Adorno subject-object

Hi Jamie, everybody,

Jamie wrote:

>That makes sense but if 'necessary' is it a form of internal social relation
>of philosophical depts expressing the form of capitalist relations?
>This creates the problem that Catesian dualism has been consistently
>critiqued since its inception - what makes it necessary then?

I have two possible answers:

1) I don't know.

2) The rhetoric (and implicit sociology) is not meant to withstand this level of scrutiny (to my mind unfortunately, though it is true that we are dealing with a translation, and only with one passage).  The limited point, somewhat fuzzily/metaphorically expressed via the language of "necessity," is simply that philosophical dualism is an indicator that there is real reification.  This, Adorno would say, is the "truth-value" of an otherwise unsatisfactory philosophical position.  

In addition, Adorno wants to register two things: (a) the fact that changing one's philosophical position (in this case rejecting dualism in favor of an adequate dialectical conception of the relationship between subject and object) does not change the real reification that the inferior philosophical position in fact captures/expresses; (b) a materialist reading of bourgeois philosophy consists of identifying the hidden sociological content (which, for better or for worse, Adorno calls the "truth-value") embedded in objectionable but significant philosophical positions, and not just saying that such positions are philosophically inferior (which they are) or identifying whose interests they serve/reflect (which they do).  

(b), above, is what Adorno thinks distinguishes his approach from that of straight sociology of knowledge.  He learnt it from Marx, who reads Hegel this way.  The philosophy is treated as containing an unintended, encoded sociological analysis.  So the philosophy, even when incorrect, isn't SIMPLY incorrect.  Because it does capture something real.  To go back to Kant, Adorno thinks that the divide, according to Kant, between things that we can have knowledge of (viz., empirically perceptible objects) and things that we can only imagine, or speculate about (e.g., freedom) -- Adorno thinks that this divide in Kant's theory between "phenomena" and "numena" is actually an unintentional, encrypted expression of the real, socio-historically specific, lack of freedom in Kant's society.  (There is some similarity here with Durkheim's approach in *Elementary Forms of Religious Life*.)  This is also, I think, what Adorno thinks is "true" about Kant's sharp distinction between what he, Kant, calls "objects" (or "representations") and "things in themselves."


>----- Original Message -----
>From: <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2003 5:38 AM
>Subject: Re: BHA: Adorno subject-object
> > Hi guys,
> >
> > Jamie had asked if anyone had any thoughts on what Adorno means by:
> >
> > 'The crude confrontation of subject and object in naive realism is indeed
> > historically necessary and not removable by any act of will.'
> >
> > I had said:
> >
> > He means to say that the idea that there is pure, inner subjectivity (on
>the one
> > hand) and then pure outer objectivity (on the other) itself
> > reflects/expresses/is a product of a social reality in which subjects
>really are
> > unfree, really are unable to exercise conscious control over their lives
> > (including over the social relationships that determine the character of
> > experience).  So Cartesian dualism (and even Kant's residual unknowable
> > thing-in-itself) is true in the sense that it expresses a real social
> >  The subject/object divide is thus ideological in the classical sense of
> > term -- a false but real appearance. (Parenthetically, this is why, or the
> > in which, he likes Kant better than Hegel.  In Hegel he sees a
>reconciliation of
> > subject and object that is illusory -- same as Marx.)  So Hegel, he
> > doesn't flag, philosophically - through a split between subject and
>object - the
> > real problem of reification.
> >
> >
> > It seems this wasn't very helpful (!), as Jamie then wrote:
> > > A bit more confused now, Cartesian dualism is true (socially necessary
> > > some point in time for Adorno)?
> >
> > Is it any better if I say not that there is something "true" about the
>idea that
> > there is an absolute split between subject and object, but rather that
> > reification is real, and that Cartesian dualism expresses this reality
> > philosophically?   Adorno's approach to modern philosophy is very much the
> > kind of approach that Marx takes to Hegel: that ideologically encrypted in
> > philosophy is an accurate reading of the social conditions.
> >
> > Tell me more, if that doesn't make sense.
> >
> > Been on a train for 18 hrs.  Gotta crash.
> > r.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >      --- from list ---
> >
>      --- from list ---

     --- from list ---


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