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Adorno, Hegel and the Philosophical Origins of Classical Social Theory

Adorno, Hegel and the Philosophical Origins of Classical Social Theory

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Title: Adorno, Hegel and the Philosophical Origins of Classical Social Theory
Author: Fuller, Brian Wayne
Abstract: The central claim of my dissertation is that the work of Theodor Adorno offers a valuable framework for reevaluating the philosophical heritage of classical social theory. In his ongoing engagement with the philosophy of German Idealism, and with Hegel in particular, Adorno’s philosophical, sociological, and cultural critical writings involve a critical rethinking of the relationship between subject and object, and between individual and society. I make two primary arguments to substantiate my claim. The first is that Adorno’s work must be understood within the context of the philosophy of Kant and Hegel. In particular, I show that Hegel’s critique of Kantian philosophy structures Adorno’s own understanding of the work of philosophy and of critical social theory. In the first part of the dissertation, I review the substance of Kantian epistemology, and of Hegel’s critique (Chapter 2); I then demonstrate that the Adorno’s critical philosophical procedure is grounded in his reading of Kant and Hegel (Chapter 3). My second primary argument is that Adorno’s attempt to articulate a critique of classical social theory is hampered by his own philosophical commitments. Through a juxtaposition of Marx’s critique of Hegel’s practical philosophy with Adorno’s own critique of Hegel (Chapter 4), I show that Adorno’s commitment to the negativity of the dialectic entails a conception of social theory that has not sufficiently addressed the implications of its materialist transformation. Adorno’s work relies upon a reduction of Hegel that remains problematic and unacknowledged. Next, I use a reading of Durkheim’s own philosophical commitments, through the lens of German Idealism, to show that Adorno’s immanent critique of Durkheim reproduces the aporiae that it seeks to rescue (Chapter 5). In the conclusion to the thesis (Chapter 6), I employ a discussion of the common themes and problems of Adorno’s critical-philosophical interpretation of classical social theory to suggest a reconsideration and renewal of its Hegelian heritage.
Subject: Sociology
Keywords: Kant
Social theory
German idealism
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/27601
Supervisor: Singer, Brian C J
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Sociology
Exam date: 2013-12-09
Publish on: 2014-07-09

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