“Kunst hat soviel Chance wie die Form”: Theodor W. Adorno and the Idea of a Poeticized Culture

  • Ulf Schulenberg


Richard Rorty’s idea of a postmetaphysical or poeticized culture has never been discussed in connection with the work of Theodor W. Adorno. In general, a discussion of the differences and similarities between these two philosophers is still a desideratum. In this chapter, Schulenberg clarifies whether Adorno’s thought has contributed to the establishment of a poeticized culture. This also implies the question of whether it is possible to call Adorno an antifoundationalist theoretician. The analysis is divided into two parts. First, Schulenberg discusses Adorno’s critique of prima philosophia and of the traditional concept of philosophical truth. Analyzing Adorno’s idea of aesthetic form, as well as his conception of the truth content of the artwork as one of the most important terms of his aesthetic thought, Schulenberg argues in the second part that Adorno does not radically reject the traditional notion of philosophical truth, but rather develops a reconstructed version of it. The link that he establishes between aesthetic form and truth cannot be found in Rorty’s thinking. Consequently, Adorno’s thought complicates the idea of an antifoundationalist narrative of progress and emancipation.


  1. Adorno, T. W. (1951). Minima Moralia: Reflexionen aus dem beschädigten Leben. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  2. Adorno, T. W. (1973). Ästhetische Theorie. 1970. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  3. Adorno, T. W. (1977). The Actuality of Philosophy (B. Snow, Trans.). Telos, 31, 120–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adorno, T. W. (1984). The Essay as Form (R. Hullot-Kentor & F. Will, Trans.). New German Critique, 32, 151–171.Google Scholar
  5. Adorno, T. W. (1990). Negative Dialektik. 1966. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  6. Adorno, T. W. (1991). Notes to Literature, Vol. 1 (S. W. Nicholsen, Trans.). New York: Columbia UP.Google Scholar
  7. Adorno, T. W. (1997). Aesthetic Theory (R. Hullot-Kentor, Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  8. Adorno, T. W. (2007). Negative Dialectics (E. B. Ashton, Trans.). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  9. Adorno, T. W. (2013). Against Epistemology: A Metacritique (W. Domingo, Trans.). Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  10. Best, S., & Kellner, D. (1991). Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dewey, J. (1958). Experience and Nature (2nd ed.). 1929. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  12. Dewey, J. (1980). Art as Experience. 1934. New York: Perigee.Google Scholar
  13. Hohendahl, P. U. (1995). Prismatic Thought: Theodor W. Adorno. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  14. Homer, S., & Kellner, D. (2004). Introduction. In Homer & Kellner (Eds.), Fredric Jameson: A Critical Reader (pp. xii–xxii). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Horkheimer, M. (1999). Critical Theory: Selected Essays (M. J. O’Connell & Others, Trans.). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  16. Jameson, F. (1971). Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP.Google Scholar
  17. Nietzsche, F. (1974). The Gay Science (W. Kaufmann, Trans.). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  18. Nietzsche, F. (1982). The Portable Nietzsche (W. Kaufmann, Ed. & Trans.). 1954. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  19. Nietzsche, F. (2003). Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.). New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  20. O’Connor, B. (2013). Adorno. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Proust, M. (2000). Time Regained (A. Mayor & T. Kilmartin, Trans.; D. J. Enright, Revised). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  22. Rorty, R. (1989). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. New York: Cambridge UP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rorty, R. (2004). Philosophy as a Transitional Genre. In S. Benhabib & N. Fraser (Eds.), Pragmatism, Critique, Judgment: Essays for Richard J. Bernstein (pp. 3–28). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. Rorty, R. (2007). Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Philosophical Papers (Vol. 4). New York: Cambridge UP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rorty, R. (2016). Philosophy as Poetry. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulf Schulenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BremenBremenGermany

Personalised recommendations