© 2018

Adorno’s Philosophy of the Nonidentical

Thinking as Resistance


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Oshrat C. Silberbusch
    Pages 1-7
  3. Oshrat C. Silberbusch
    Pages 57-122
  4. Oshrat C. Silberbusch
    Pages 185-194
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 195-205

About this book


This book focuses on a central notion in Theodor. W. Adorno’s philosophy: the nonidentical. The nonidentical is what our conceptual framework cannot grasp and must therefore silence, the unexpressed other of our rational engagement with the world. This study presents the nonidentical as the multidimensional centerpiece of Adorno’s reflections on subjectivity, truth, suffering, history, art, morality and politics, revealing the intimate relationship between how and what we think. Adorno’s work, written in the shadow of Auschwitz, is a quest for a different way of thinking, one that would give the nonidentical a voice – as the somatic in reasoning, the ephemeral in truth, the aesthetic in cognition, the other in society. Adorno’s philosophy of the nonidentical reveals itself not only as a powerful hermeneutics of the past, but also as an important tool for the understanding of modern phenomena such as xenophobia, populism, political polarization, identity politics, and systemic racism.


adorno auschwitz heidegger dialectic kant eichmann radical evil

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ScholarBrooklyn, NYUSA

About the authors

Oshrat C. Silberbusch holds a PhD in philosophy from Tel Aviv University. She has studied philosophy, German literature, Jewish studies and translation in Paris, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Bibliographic information


“In this incisive and beautifully lucid work, Oshrat Silberbusch provides the first English language study of Adorno’s orienting concept: the nonidentical.   As she persuasively demonstrates, the nonidentical is at stake in all the central moments of Adorno’s philosophy: the caesura of Auschwitz which defies the attempt to draw meaning from it; the unsaid of conceptual thought; the somatic; the torturable body; the silenced victims of historical progress; the trace of repressed history in the present; the utopian impulse; the artwork as the stand-in for absent sensuous particularity; the shudder; and on.  Essential reading for all students of Adorno’s thought.” (J.M. Bernstein, New School for Social Research, USA)

“Oshrat Silberbusch has written an elegant and incisive meditation on the nonidentical, one of the most compelling and illuminating terms in Adorno’s philosophy.  She traces the reverberations of the nonidentical through Adorno’s three main works: Dialectic of Enlightenment, Negative Dialectic, and Aesthetic Theory.  This is a work of deep reflection and sensitive comprehension, accessible to those just coming to Adorno but so too unavoidably rich and insightful for any supposed expert.  Here is a book at once both surprising and reassuring, and a brilliant addition to the recent literature on Adorno.” (Tom Huhn, School of Visual Arts, USA)