Posted by: Ha_Qohelet | October 31, 2008

Part Two, Negative Dialectics

I’m trying to devote Thursdays to dissertation work. This always only partly works — yesterday, for instance, I had to go to the grocery store for Zoe’s birthday, and do laundry, including half of her Halloween “costume” (t-shirt with the legend “I don’t do costumes” and black sweat pants). Nevertheless, I wrote 7 pages on part two of negative dialectics.

I thought I had flagged all the occurences of “utopia” or “Utopia” in ND, but discovered a new one yesterday in going through part two, this one at the very end of the section, and directly related to the “ban on images” which is a recurrent theme in the work, as well. This permitted me to say that in fact, Part two begins and ends with references to utopia, and seems to set up the exposition of the negative dialectical method as practically oriented towards the kind of thinking that creates the space for utopia — namely, the kind of thinking that keeps open a space between what is (or seems to be) and what could be but isn’t, at least, not yet. For Adorno, this includes banishing a philosophy based on “totality” (which as far as I can tell, is approximately the equivalent of having a closed philosophical system, or some kind of thinking that envisions reality as a fully integrated whole — but maybe not the equivalent of having a concept of “everything,” whatever that would turn out to be); not imagining that we’ll be able to equate reality and reason (reality as we know it not identical with an inner logos); not reducing dissimilar things to their similarities (“a is an x, b is an x, and c is also an x, thus a=b=c); and approaching understanding via “constellations,” determinate, concrete configuations of things which, together, permit insight into a particular situation.

I admit, it’s kind of hard to get back to work on scheduling space and making sure the publicity for the event gets out after that.

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