MARTIN SHUSTER | Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity | Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014


By Charlotte Baumann

In his book Autonomy After Auschwitz, Martin Shuster interprets Adorno’s conception of freedom via Kant and Hegel. Fittingly, his discussion therefore revolves around the concept of reason—or perhaps that should be reasons plural, as we read about a “space of reasons” (p. 29), different “chain[s] of rational reflection” (p. 82), “distinct form[s] of giving reasons” (p. 157), and “the possibility of taking one’s reasons as reasons” (p. 168).

My discussion of the book will focus on this tiny, seemingly innocuous difference signalled by the plural s after the word ‘reason’ and related terms. The difference recurs throughout the interpretation of German Idealists and thinkers like Adorno who were inspired by their work. Robert Pippin claims, for example, that Hegel’s Logic brings out the general conditions that must be met by different “categorical frameworks” (Pippin 1990:847) or “absolute forms” (Pippin 1990:843) (while, to my knowledge, both Kant’s table of categories and Hegel’s absolute form are singular, that is, one rather than many).

Of course, Pippin also uses the term reason in the singular, for example, speaking of “reason’s absolute free self-authorization” (Pippin 2008:97). However, he identifies Hegel’s “claim that thought can be said to ‘determine itself’” with the “intraconceptual assessment of the adequacies of […] categorical possibilities” (1990:846). Independently of what Pippin exactly means here, the basic idea is that thought or reason determining itself involves human beings assessing norms or concepts, rather than something called ‘reason’, an entity or a set of unchanging logical laws, prescribing something to them. When ‘continental’ interpreters of Hegel like Honneth, Habermas, Theunissen, and, I believe, Adorno, worry about the notion of the whole, spirit or reason, imposing itself on individuals, it is clear that they mean something other than a whole of norms or reasons, which, as Pippin puts it, are only binding for any one individual if there is a “genuinely subjective” endorsement on the part of that individual, rather than a mere “re-enactment of an inherited convention” (Pippin 2008:69). And they certainly mean something subtler than the image reproduced by certain critics of Hegel, who suggest that he speaks of reason as a God-like subject making history and controlling human beings like puppets.

It is no coincidence that the term ‘reason’, let alone ‘Reason’ capitalised, has become problematic for analytic philosophers; it seems to carry metaphysical implications even when used by the likes of Kant and Adorno, who, unlike Hegel, explicitly deny that they are pursuing metaphysics. Both P.F. Strawson and Wilfrid Sellars famously attacked Kant’s account of the transcendental subject on these grounds. The notion of a God-like, Hegelian Reason or, as Bertrand Russell calls it, a “mystical entity called spirit […] that causes human history” (2008:784) is, of course, also in line with this criticism of metaphysics. Isaiah Berlin and Karl Popper are other famous critics of Hegel who have contributed to the notion that any conception of reason that means more than the reasons individuals have for their actions is deeply suspicious (and, more often than not, a veiled reference to God).

To return to Adorno and Shuster’s book: while also seeing its worth, Adorno is certainly as critical of an Idealist notion of reason as any other; however, both his positive and negative evaluations of this concept are lost or change significantly when one takes him to be speaking of reasons in the plural. When Adorno claims, in a passage that appears shortly before one discussed by Shuster, that, for Kant, freedom means “to act as reason dictates” (GF[1] 320; trans. mine), there is something forceful and problematic about the dictatorship of reason. This problematic aspect, this forcefulness or tension to which Adorno points, is seemingly absent from Sellars’s notion of a “space of reasons”, some of which the subject “takes to be reasons for herself” (p. 29).

To my ‘continental’ (i.e. German and historically trained) eye, Shuster’s thesis is most interesting and fitting primarily as a way of addressing, with Adorno, a potential problem in a pragmatic or analytic, Wittgenstein-inspired conception of norms and social freedom. I would paraphrase his argument as follows:

Subjectivity or our way of interpreting the world imposes itself on objects and becomes inflexible. In other words, we forget that the current norms and our take on the world are not those objects themselves or unchangeable natural laws. Subjects are not always or necessarily conscious of the fact that norms and interpretations have been invented by them or their ancestors and that those norms are valid only if and insofar as human beings take them to be so. Adorno shows that in order to truly be free, one has to be able to use or get inspiration from impulses to change from one space of reasons to another, thereby breaking with an inflexible pattern of thought. Freedom requires reflecting on and thereby appropriating (or transforming) one’s space of reasons.

I am thus sympathetic to Shuster’s line of reasoning—within the context of the contemporary philosophy that he uses as a backdrop to his discussion. For the sake of argument, and given my own expertise, I shall focus my review on another aspect that is at the forefront of his book, namely Adorno’s discussion of freedom and reason by means of a critique of Kant and Hegel.

Interestingly, the use Shuster makes of Kant and Hegel is quite different. Shuster is well aware that Adorno’s interpretation of Hegel is different from his (indeed, he even tries to disprove Adorno’s—metaphysical—line of interpretation). When discussing Adorno’s notion of freedom in relation to Kant, however, Shuster does not distinguish between the Kant he presents (citing Sellars among others) and the neo-Kantian Kant with which Adorno was familiar, which includes the kind of interpretation that goes back to Hermann Cohen, Paul Natorp and Heinrich Rickert. Adorno himself remarks that the “Neo-Marburg Kant school” (VLKrV[2] 125) of Julius Ebbinghaus and Klaus Reich was authoritative in Germany during his time, and he defines the task of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason almost word for word in accordance with the basic line of interpretation proposed by Hermann Cohen, the founder of Marburg neo-Kantianism, in 1871 and 1885: According to Adorno, Kant’s First Critique is not concerned with the “mechanisms of cognition” (VLKrV 143) or the “physiology of thought” (VLKrV 144). Rather, it aims at “now confirming, by means of a reflection on the cognizing subject, the validity of mathematical natural science, which is presupposed in its validity” (VLKrV 144; all above translations mine). (This is, of course, part of the explanation as to why Kant’s notion of reason is central to Adorno’s analysis of the technical and scientific progress that goes along with the Enlightenment.)

I shall withhold judgement about Shuster’s analytic line of interpretation of Kant, Hegel, and Adorno. That is to say, I shall try to refrain from claiming that he ought to have interpreted Adorno as I interpret him (as noted above, I see the value in Shuster’s contemporary/American approach). Rather, my review or discussion should be understood as a sharing of a puzzle about reason and reasons, in the hope that someone will contribute another piece, which will help me grapple with something that has been bugging me for some time. I take the opportunity of discussing Shuster’s book to give some indications as to why and how reason is understood in German Idealism on a continental reading, and to show how some of Adorno’s claims are almost unrecognisably different when read within this historical and continental context. (My approach is slightly more confrontational in the last section, since Shuster tries to show that Adorno ought to have interpreted Hegel in a contemporary, analytic manner, while I defend Adorno’s view against Shuster’s argument from a continental perspective.) Broadly following the order of Shuster’s book, I begin my discussion with the Kantian notion of (transcendental) subjectivity and its link to capitalism and the repression of (one’s own) nature (Section 1). I then discuss the value of irrationality (Section 2), and the concept of reason in Hegel’s metaphysics, as well as Adorno’s concerns over and appreciation of this concept (Section 3).

1. “Taking Things a Particular Way” vs. the Transcendental Subject and Market Laws

In Chapter 1, Shuster claims that in Dialectic of Enlightenment Adorno diagnoses a “dissolution of subjectivity” (p. 21), meaning that if the subject imposes itself completely on objectivity and there is no objectivity left, then “the subject vanishes” (p. 22)—since the term ‘subject’ only makes sense if you distinguish it from an object. Shuster makes this very abstract claim a bit more concrete by proposing that Adorno’s notion of subjectivity links back to Kant’s “synthetic unity of apperception” (p. 32). For Shuster, this well-known Kantian notion means that one has a “view from somewhere”, in the sense that “I take it that things are this way and not another and so I also take myself to have taken it that things are this way” (p. 31); and “[s]ince I am the one taking things a particular way, then the pole of objectivity is always already compromised” (p. 32). Given that this argument remains rather abstract, Shuster then worries that Adorno’s argument seems to be “divorced from actual events“ (p. 33) and that critics could simply say “so much the worse for subjectivity” (p. 36). Shuster dismisses this worry by claiming that, for Adorno and Horkheimer, “a certain sort of subjectivity (enlightenment thinking—Kantian autonomy) does undermine practical reason” (p. 39), which he previously described as “the capacity for generating practical reasons” (p. 38).

I am, of course, particularly interested in Shuster’s assumption that Kant’s ‘unity of apperception’ can be explicated in terms of particular ‘points of view’ (note the plural), which, on Shuster’s reading of Adorno, entails a problem insofar as objects are always interpreted by me. (It is also interesting to note Shuster’s claim that practical reason “serves as the capacity for generating practical reasons” [p. 38], as he performs exactly the easy transition from the singular to the plural that I have pointed to above.)

I agree with Shuster that Kant’s ‘unity of apperception’ is a good starting point for approaching Adorno’s critique of subjectivity. It will be clear already, however, that I disagree with Shuster’s interpretation of this notion, and I believe this disagreement has important consequences for the interpretation of Adorno’s text.

Like many Kant scholars, notably including nineteenth-century neo-Kantians and German Idealists, Adorno identifies the ‘synthetic unity of apperception’ with the ‘transcendental subject’”. Adorno defines them both with almost exactly the same words:

[T]he synthetic unity of apperception, [is] in fact nothing but the quintessence [Inbegriff] of the transcendental conditions […] the unity of conditions of the possibility of experience. (BU[3] 161; trans. mine)

The transcendental subject [is] merely the quintessence [Inbegriff] of the conditions of possible experience. (ME[4] 148; trans. mine)

What are the transcendental conditions? The outline of Adorno’s interpretation is given in his lectures on Kant’s First Critique. Adorno claims that, according to Kant’s philosophy,

the individual consciousness [is something] relatively accidental and particular as opposed to the law-like necessary universal that operates according to rules. Kant tried emphatically, in the Critique of Pure Reason, to distinguish the subject that he analyses from the empirical subject as he presupposes a different, much more abstract subject than the individual subject […] [namely,] the transcendental subject, or which he calls in his Prolegomena, consciousness in general. (VLKrV 219; trans. mine)

In his Negative Dialectics, Adorno proposes:

Since the Critique of Pure Reason the essence of the transcendental subject is functionality, pure activity [reine Tätigkeit], which is carried out in the efforts [Leistungenof particular subjects, but which also transcends them. (ND[5] 179; trans. mine)

Adorno then goes on to claim that

the universality of the transcendental subject is […] the functional relationship of society […] the universal rule of exchange value over human beings […]. More of the transcendental subject is less of the already very reduced empirical subject. (ND 180; trans. mine)

Adorno also links the transcendental subject to the price mechanism (ND 179) and the “process of abstraction that occurs in the actual society of exchange” (ND 180).

Shuster’s interpretation of the ‘transcendental subject’ does not seem to work in this context. How could our general situatedness, our having a particular point of view, be understood as the “universal rule of exchange value over human beings”? In fact, in the context of a market economy the “particular perspective” of each individual is most similar to what Marx called the use value of a product, the particular usage and worth a particular human being attributes to a concrete thing he or she purchases. The opposite notion is of course the exchange value, i.e. the price. Marx famously claims that the universal and social price rather than one’s individual and particular view of and use for a thing are the exclusive and only relevant criterion within a market economy: whether I find a particular product beautiful or ugly, whether it reminds me of a person I love or whether I need it to clean my house is irrelevant; what matters is the price and whether I am able and willing to pay for it. Adorno clearly links the notion of subjectivity to the universal price, rather than to one’s particular, socially mediated view and use of this product.

So what is the transcendental subject on Adorno’s reading? In line with neo-Kantians since Hermann Cohen,[6] Adorno clearly takes the term ‘transcendental subject’ to refer to nothing but the (unified system of all) Kantian categories. This is why he defines the transcendental subject as the set of conditions of possible experience; and this is why Adorno can see a link between Kant’s transcendental subject and the abstractions and universal concepts (like exchange value) within capitalism.

In the passage quoted from Negative Dialectics (ND 179–80), Adorno basically proposes that Kant’s transcendental subject, i.e. the formal and necessary rules of the categories and their constitution of objects, reflects the way in which market laws, with their universal categories, define all market objects (commodities and market participants, their price and purchasing power, respectively). Just like transcendental subjectivity and the categories define how thinking beings necessarily view objects (as causally connected, developing along a linear time-sequence, etc.) the price mechanism and exchange value rule over what Adorno calls empirical subjects in Kant’s parlance, defining how they necessarily view products and who can or cannot buy or sell. For anybody living within capitalism, market laws are as inescapable as Kantian categories are for thinking beings. I return to this point later. (I believe Adorno wavers and changes his exact take on the causal connection between capitalism and abstract thought in general and Kantian categories in particular. Adorno acknowledges Sohn-Rethel [cf. ND 178], who proposes, in his work Warenform und Denkform that abstract concepts and, indeed, Kant’s philosophy emerge as a consequence of the capitalist notion of value that abstracts from all concrete objects, individuals and needs. On other occasions, Adorno suggests the reverse sequence, namely that capitalism could only emerge because of the abstract way the categories work.)

In Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno’s claim is even broader (and slightly different) than in his Negative Dialectics. But, even when he is not referencing Kant directly, he clearly uses the notion of subjectivity in the dual sense sketched above, namely as the rational structure of thought, on the one hand, and the empirical subject or particular and actual human beings, on the other. What Shuster calls the dissolution—one might say: self-destruction—of subjectivity relates back to the origin of subjectivity as Adorno proposes:

At the moment when man separates the consciousness of himself from himself and considers it nature […] the means becomes the end, which, in late capitalism takes the form of overt madness […]. The rule of man over himself, which is the foundation of the self, is virtually already the destruction of the subject […]. (DA[7] 61–2; trans. mine)

Individuals repress or control their contradictory particular individual self or subjectivity (i.e. their changing feelings, drives, sensations, needs and thoughts, incoherent, spontaneous, irrational acts and desires) in the name of subjectivity or reason, the rational ends-oriented, structured, predictable, coherent and always identical way of judging and acting. By distancing oneself from one’s immediate needs and impulses, the self (in the sense of a coherent, rational, unchanging person) emerges. But by this very move, one also denies and represses one’s own natural and individual self, the survival of which was the very end or reason for using reason in the first place. (Again, Adorno links this abstraction from particular needs, this repressive act towards oneself and one’s particularity, to the way in which capitalism functions.)

I cannot discuss these interpretative snippets in detail here, but it is worth noting that these lines of interpretation not only show how Adorno’s point is linked to “actual events” (p. 33); they also present the nature of the problem in a quite different and, I believe, more pressing and depressing light than that of Shuster’s line of interpretation. (In other words, Shuster is right that Adorno’s argument about subjectivity is not “divorced from actual events“ (p. 33) and that critics cannot simply say “so much the worse for subjectivity” (p. 36). However, this is the case to an even larger extent than in Shuster’s line of interpretation.)

For Adorno and Kant, in my interpretation, subjectivity is neither a point of view nor some commitment that one can or cannot make, or that may be (imagined to be) absent from another society, as Shuster argues in relation to Cavell (p. 36–7); there is no “space of reasons” (Sellars), some of which the subject “takes to be reasons for herself” (p. 29), but reason. There are not particular points of view (cf. p. 31), one does not merely (choose to) “assume the stance of an autonomous agent” (p. 32).

When Adorno speaks of the emergence of subjectivity, he is basically referring to the emergence of thinking beings, which largely coincides with self-conscious, rational beings, beings capable of reasoning. For Adorno, Kant is making a point about how thinking necessarily functions; how thinking beings operate. (And Kant’s point is not that thinking beings give reasons, but that they necessarily think with the help of the categories thereby positing or presupposing a particular law-like and necessary form of objects that leads human beings not only to overlook the natural particularities and differences of physical things, but also necessarily to misconstrue their own self.) This is precisely why Adorno can connect the origin of human language, thought, and reason to Kant’s theory of subjectivity. Of course, there can be a community that is ‘magical’ in Adorno’s sense, where human beings only know personal names for everything and imitate the sounds of nature with their voices—however, those human beings do not have a language properly speaking (since they do not know universal terms, which is the hallmark of the magical mindset), and it is also hard to consider them thinking beings. In a similar way, there may be human beings who do not employ Kantian categories thereby constituting objects of thought, human beings that are consequently not aware of the regular necessary features of objects—such as them standing in causal relations, having a linear time sequence, and so on. However, such human beings are either on some sort of drug experience, or babies, or suffering from a serious mental disorder; at any rate they are not capable of coherent thought and judgement. When Adorno discusses the emergence of subjectivity, he broadly means thinking beings (rational subjects repressing their natural, incoherent, particular self), and, yes, there may be a world without thinking beings, but in that case ethics, epistemology, indeed philosophy in general becomes irrelevant, just as science, literature, cities, and so on, become non-existent. This can hardly be an argument against Adorno.

I am sympathetic to Shuster’s claim that Adorno’s critique of “instrumental rationality” “is symptomatic of a deeper problem centering on identity” of the subject and the object (p. 16). In fact, I believe, Adorno is proposing that having a coherent, predictable, personal identity—constructing a law-abiding personality with the help of reason—is in itself a problem and repressive towards oneself, one’s incoherent, unpredictable desires, wants, and impulses that also constitute, in a very important sense, one’s particular self. Jameson (2007:16) speaks of the “boring imprisonment of the self in itself, crippled by its terror of the new” in this context.

In conclusion, it should be clear that Adorno’s argument in Dialectic of Enlightenment does not just concern “actual events”. It is such a broad claim that it almost concerns too many actual events. He is basically suggesting not only that Newtonian physics and ‘Enlightenment’ science are already potentially present or inherent in the very constitution of human thought and reason (which Kant does as well). Adorno goes on to argue that the subjugation and destruction of nature, the market economy, commodification, the industrialised, efficient and rationally organised killing which was the Holocaust were all, in nuce, tendencies inherent in the way in which thought, language, and subjectivity emerges. (As noted above, Adorno also considers the inverse causal connection in Negative Dialectics, discussing whether capitalism engendered abstract concepts rather than inversely, them leading to capitalism and the abstract, efficient killing that occurred in Auschwitz).

2. Irrationality vs. Different “Chains of Rational Reflection”

Shuster discusses a very interesting passage from Adorno’s lectures, where Adorno explains his view of freedom by referring to Hamlet. In this passage, Adorno introduces the notion of an ‘addendum’ or ‘jolt’ that is required for freedom; Shuster uses this passage to introduce the notion of ‘life forms’ and different ‘chains of rational reflection’. Shuster writes:

When Adorno points out that we “may” term the addendum the “irrational element”, he ought to be taken to mean that only within a particular chain of rational reflection does it occur as an irrational jolt (HF 234). Such a jolt, or break, in the chain of reflection appears irrational from the perspective of that chain. As a jolt, it seems to come from nowhere. Such a jolt, however, can serve as a reason, and this means that, after the act/jolt in question, it is acknowledged as my act because I can give reasons for it, reasons that are genuinely mine. (pp. 81–2)

And when Adorno speaks of an archaic element in Hamlet’s actions (namely Hamlet’s desire for revenge, which Adorno suggests does not fit in with the modern, bourgeois mind-set), Shuster interprets Adorno as follows:

So revenge is archaic, but it is not irrational. On the contrary, revenge is a sort of rationality—it presupposes an entire institution of rational human commitments and backgrounds, with their own practices and histories. (p. 87)

Shuster is thus intent on showing that Adorno is not praising irrationality, but rather considering actions that do or do not make sense according to the “form of life” (p.  117) one inhabits, or the particular chain of rational reflection one is considering.

I want to propose, on the contrary, that Adorno is praising irrationality in this particular context. I am not sure whether what Adorno describes can be called a life form. However, it is misleading to speak of a different set of reasons or rules for defining what counts as a reason (since, for Adorno, the archaic individual is someone who does not have the capacity for reason proper; I come back to this point in due course).

While it may well be the case that one can understand Adorno’s notion of the “archaic” and the “modern-bourgeois” as life forms, this proposition misses the point: The point is that the archaic (and indeed the magical) are stages or “phases” (GF 326) within a development that has been considered (by the German Idealists and others) as progress, that is, history as progress towards freedom, subjectivity, self-consciousness (this is, of course, the reason for the title of Adorno’s lecture: History and Freedom). As Adorno stresses several times in the short passage that Shuster cites and analyses, his point concerns the “philosophy of history” (GF 324, 325, 329). Adorno suggests that in “mediæval, feudal” (GF 325) times, the human being was archaic, in the sense of being not yet “someone who thinks independently, and distinguishes oneself from the external order by means of his reason” (GF 322), the individual was not (yet) a “subject that is separate for itself, a subject that, as cognizing and rational, has taken itself back into itself and away from heteronomous […] reality” (GF 333; all above translations mine). The wording is very Hegelian here and deliberately so (the notion of being ‘für sich’ that is, ‘for him or herself or for oneself, itself’—means both being conscious of oneself and separate from the world in the sense of being able to distinguish him or herself from the world in one’s own mind).

Adorno’s general proposition is certainly not novel, as he is happy to admit. Adorno explicitly references Hegel’s and the Romantics’ conception of ancient Greece (cf. GF 322). Hegel writes about the Athenian polis:

Greeks [live] a life for religion, for the state, without further reflection and without analysis leading to abstract definitions, which must lead away from the concrete embodiment of them. (VG[8] 327/267–8)

In a similar vein, Hegel proposes that the Ancient Chinese “obey selflessly and without reflection.” “The individual does not know his own identity as against the substance [i.e. the state], which is not yet a power standing over against him” (VG 152/120). Adorno’s reference to feudal society also echoes that of the early Marx: For Marx, a person living in the mediæval period is an “estates individual”, like “an animal that coincides immediately with its determination” (MEW, 1:285[9]; trans. mine). In other words, human beings merely enacted their determinate tasks or labour, which was prescribed by their estate or guild, like a bee or ant without any reflection. Their labour, social status or role is maintained from birth to death and is considered constitutive of who they are (cf. MEW, 3:76[10]). In capitalism, on the contrary, there is a difference between the personal individual and the class individual (MEW, 3:76), between one’s profession or social role and oneself as an individual person.

The historical reference points may vary quite significantly, but the general point about the succession of different stages largely remains the same: There is a stage in which individuals are not yet subjects, self-conscious, rational, independent thinkers, who can distinguish their own opinions, thoughts, and judgments, from what society demands and prescribes. As such a non-subject, they do not know or formulate abstract and universal concepts and principles (which would enable them to measure society against universal standards). And, then, there is a later, modern, enlightened, capitalist period, or, as Adorno puts it, a “bourgeois-rational order” (GF 326), where there are subjects who are capable of these things.

Against this background, Adorno makes two original, closely-related claims, both of which are, as he stresses, rather paradoxical:

(1) If it remains isolated, “the rational and planned” becomes too rational, as it were. When all spontaneity and impulse is expunged (he calls this the “radically administered world”; GF 327), then rationality regresses and turns into nothing but the reflex-like obeying of orders like Pavlov’s dog, which led to the concentration camps. (This is, broadly, the claim Adorno had already made in Dialectic of Enlightenment, and he explicitly mentions “concentration camps” [GF 327] in allusion to his famous claim about Auschwitz).

(2) Adorno argues that true freedom can exist only if it contains an unfree, irrational element, an “impulse” (GF 327), something “puppet-like” (GF 325), “reflex-like reacting”, “an impulse action” that is “alien to the I” (GF 329), alien to the rational, conscious, coherent will of the person.

Shuster does not see these claims, since he excludes from the outset the possibility that Adorno is arguing in favour of irrationality, or an irrational moment. (In fact, even the translator seems to have problems with this idea: Where Adorno says “a, for God’s sake, irrational moment” [GF 325; trans. mine], the translation reads “what we might even call an irrational moment” [GF 234], which is clearly a lot less strong and more cautious than Adorno’s very strong affirmation that he is speaking of irrationality here.) Shuster insists that Hamlet’s actions only appear “irrational given Hamlet’s path of reflection from one view of this particular situation” (p. 86); Hamlet’s acts are “not irrational”. Rather, as cited above, they express a “sort of rationality—it presupposes an entire institution of rational human commitments and backgrounds with their own practices and histories” (p. 87). According to Shuster, “Adorno is adamant that he is not endorsing an irrational theory of the will” (p. 79).

However, in the passage Shuster refers to, directly after affirming that he is speaking of a “for God’s sake, irrational moment” (GF 325; trans. mine), Adorno says the following:

I do not think I will be under suspicion for advocating an irrational theory of the will in the style of Carl Schmitt or, if you will, Max Weber. Nevertheless, I do think, when thinking seriously about those topics, that one cannot shy away from the traces [of irrationality] and that one tries to see these things, as complex as they are, as far as this is possible. (GF 325; trans. mine)

I would not call this an “adamant” rejection of irrationality. I can only speculate regarding the reasons as to why Shuster does not believe that Adorno could be endorsing irrationality here. I want to suggest that, if one only speaks of reasons, there is always some reason for doing something and it is hard to see why not having a reason for doing something could be a good thing. (Interestingly, while Shuster previously described “instrumental rationality” [p. 16] as a symptom of a deeper problem, instrumental rationality, i.e. choosing between different “means-end relations” [p. 86] now appears to be a part of the solution he offers. It is not quite clear to me how this is possible.)

At least on my line of interpretation, Adorno has a different and stronger, critical take on Idealist reason in mind, and it therefore makes a lot more sense to worry about reason as such (rather than a particular “chain of rational reflection” [p. 82])—and, consequently, appreciate the value of its opposite, namely irrationality. I believe that, in the passage Shuster discusses, Adorno proposing the following: What would usually count as a lack of freedom (or agency), namely acting unconsciously, on a natural impulse without having decided to do so, basically like an animal that follows its instincts, is actually an important part of freedom. And he clashes with the entire German Idealist tradition when doing so. It is an interesting and odd proposition, which fits in with his validation of the non-identical (i.e. the physical and particular that cannot be captured by universal concepts), as well as his claim that the unified, coherent rational person only emerges when one represses one’s irrational, spontaneous, natural aspects. (As noted above, those aspects are, in some sense, much more individual and much more oneself than the universal standard of reason.) Adorno does not equate irrationality or acting on impulse with freedom, but he argues that this moment is important for freedom—particularly since he believes that he has shown how following through with the Idealist type of rational freedom, the rule of abstract concepts and principles, entails an alienation from particular others, nature and one’s own particular self, which has had disastrous consequences.

Shuster quotes Adorno saying that the somatic irrational input helps to define freedom as something that is neither “blind nature, nor oppressed nature” (GF 327) (p. 81). The oppressed nature Adorno is referring to broadly coincides with one’s own desires, needs, feelings, one’s own particularity, and a particular, contradictory self or subjectivity that (as indicated in Section 1 above) one represses in order to become a rational, coherent, law-abiding, predictable subject. Shuster rightly worries about “self-ascription” (p. 79) of the seemingly irrational, impulsive, puppet-like acts. However, the explanation is not that there is a different, coherent chain of reasoning, a coherent rational self to which the acts can be attributed. Rather, the very impulsiveness, the incoherent, unstructured desire, the bodily need to do this act, is also a kind of self—in fact, a much more individual self than the one that emerges when one forces oneself to follow a straight line of reasons.

3. The (Non-)Metaphysical Hegel and Reason as More than What Happens to Be Considered Rational

In the last chapter of Shuster’s book, he proposes that Adorno’s own take on Hegel is mistaken, and that Adorno’s worries about freedom can be addressed with the help of a correct (namely, non-metaphysical) Hegel. (Shuster does not use the expression ‘non-metaphysical’, but it is fair to call it so, as I shall show).

I shall focus on Shuster’s arguments against Adorno’s take on Hegel and the difference between a non-metaphysical and metaphysical reading of Hegel. Shuster also defends Hegel against Adorno’s worry that Hegel’s notions of progress and absolute knowing are “necessarily redemptive” (p. 166) and make the suffering that occurred during the so-called progress of spirit “forgivable” (p. 167). I am sympathetic to the latter, deeply Adornian anxiety, but I shall not have time to discuss it here. The worry, I believe, can emerge in the context of both a metaphysical and a non-metaphysical, pragmatic-analytic reading of Hegel. (In the non-metaphysical camp, Brandom [2009:91] famously proposes that “reason’s march through history” means that we can tell stories about how we improved our concepts; this implies, in principle, that we could validate the suffering of previous generations as part of our story of the only way we could finally come to the important and painful conclusions necessary for improving our concepts.)

Shuster describes Adorno’s interpretation of Hegel as involving totality and teleology (p. 136). The term ‘teleology’ is problematic here (Hegel savages the notion of teleology in his Logic and his method is not quite a teleology, as will be seen below.) Nevertheless, this is quite a good take on the (problematic) core of a metaphysical Hegel, and I agree with Shuster that Adorno is presupposing such an interpretation. Both totality and ‘teleology’ are essential aspects of Hegel’s conception of reason on a traditional metaphysical reading: Hegel treats “self-conscious Reason” and “Spirit” (VG 23/11) synonymously. For Hegel, the totality or absolute, i.e. the entire physical and social world, display rational or logical structures; when human beings come to know those rational structures through the natural sciences, the study and creation of social structures, art, religion and philosophy, absolute spirit attains self-knowledge, in Hegel’s parlance. What Shuster calls the ‘teleological’ element in Hegel is basically the idea that what is rational will come to be realised. Since Hegel identifies the content he discusses in his Logic as “the purely rational” (WL I[11], 45/51), one can render the same proposition by saying that Hegel is optimistic that the structures discussed in the Logic will exist not only in nature and its laws, but also in social structures, i.e. in a state (and human beings will come to know that or have come to know that with Hegel’s philosophy).

Critics like Russell and Popper have interpreted these two elements of Hegelian reason by claiming that Hegel believes reason makes history happen as a God-like force. Shuster is, however, right not to associate Adorno with this rather blunt and theological interpretation. Adorno makes a more subtle claim:

[T]he sense that history takes as the logic of things, is not the sense of the individual destiny. (GF 43; trans. mine)

History has a logic of its own, for Hegel, namely one in which the structures analysed in the Logic gradually come to exist within social structures. This implies that rational improvements of spirit do not (necessarily) represent improvements for or to individuals. Or, as Adorno writes in another passage:

The supposedly higher concept of spirit has to prove itself to the living and actual spirits of human beings. (GF 70; trans. mine)

Spirit and its rationality must be rational for and to human beings—on Hegel’s conception of reason, this is not necessarily the case.

The basic line of Hegel’s reasoning is the following:

(1) Everything in the world is characterised by its particular structure; there are only a limited number of basic structures or ways of uniting elements into a whole, all of which Hegel discusses in the abstract in his Logic.

(2) Hegel presupposes a hierarchy of natural and social entities, just as he presupposes a hierarchy of logical structures. Simple logical constellations are present in certain simple things and in elements of complex phenomena. Logical structures that are more complex (which are discussed later in the Logic) are truly characteristic of complex things, and of the systematic interconnection of everything. (This means that while the constellations at the beginning of the Logic can be exemplified by a stone, as well as by a person, the later structures are only present in complex natural phenomena, organisms, and, finally, human thought, action, and interaction.)

(3) Social structures that display simpler logical forms are inherently contradictory and less stable; hence those societies are bound to prevail that display the more coherent, complex and rational logical forms Hegel discusses at the end of his Logic.

Hegel describes his Logic as an “ontology” and “metaphysics” (WL I, 16/27, 61/63), because it outlines the structures underlying both thoughts and all physical and social reality. This is why he claims to have overcome the “opposition of consciousness” (between subject and object) as he analyses “thought insofar as it is the thing itself” (WL I, 43/49). He believes in the “objective existence” of thought determinations (Enz[12], §86a; WL I, 45/51) and opposes his “absolute idealism” (Enz, §45a) to a subjective idealism that analyses mere objects of thought or experience.

By opposing Adorno’s Hegel which involves totality and teleology, Shuster is thus siding with those who have rehabilitated Hegel by proposing a non-metaphysical reading of Hegel, particularly a non-metaphysical take on reason in Hegel’s philosophy. Hegel, of course, insists that he is developing a metaphysics (WL I, 61/63; cf. WL I, 43/49; Enz, §45a, §86a). Close collaborators of Hegel, like Schelling confirm that the “real world” is encompassed in his philosophy: “existence”, “nature”, and not merely the concepts for those entities (Schelling 1994:138, 143, 151). Schelling also remarks that Hegel follows Leibnizian rationalist metaphysics in doing so (1994:144, 162), presupposing that mind-independent reality can be known through pure reason. Nevertheless, there are good reasons for interpreting Hegel non-metaphysically. For non-metaphysical Hegelians, there cannot be one Reason that pre-establishes what is rational and ought to exist regardless of whether or not individuals agree with it, are aware of it, or consider it to be rational. As Pippin puts it, such ideas “look hopeless to most modern philosophers, almost all of whom have come to accept a plurality of equally legitimate and incommensurable claims about ultimate human ends or goods” (2008:66). This is particularly true, he suggests, for philosophers “after the twentieth century” (2008:66)

Against this given background, Shuster’s first argument is that Adorno’s take on Hegel is mistaken, since Hegel is not actually developing a teleology: what Hegel describes is a “self-movement”, with “no teleological conclusion […] presupposed” (p. 141). This is indeed correct, but it is actually an insight into, or criticism of, Hegel that Adorno himself repeatedly mentions. Broadly in line with Shuster’s notion of self-movement, Adorno says that, for Hegel,

the system cannot be expressed as a fundamental principle of this [Fichtean] kind, an ur-principle, but is the dynamic totality of all the propositions that can be generated from one another by virtue of their contradictions. (DSH[13] 260/12)

However, Adorno also notes:

The usual conception of the dynamic of Hegel’s thought—that the movement of the concept is nothing but the advance from one to the other by virtue of the inner mediatedness of the former—is one-sided if nothing else. […] What would be new according to the simple schema of triplicity reveals itself to be the concept that formed the starting point for the particular dialectical movement under discussion, modified and under different illumination. (DSH 364–5/134–5)

Adorno compares Hegel’s system to a “dynamic teleology” in music (DSH 367/137), music that can be heard “forward and backward at the same time” (DSH 366/136). In another passage, he states that there is an “unresolved contradiction” in Hegel’s philosophy, and that

the fact that the subject-object dialectic, which involves no abstract higher-level concept, itself constitutes the whole and yet is realized in turn as the life of absolute spirit. The quintessence of the conditioned, according to Hegel, is the unconditioned. (DSH 261/13)

The conditioned to which Adorno is referring is the whole or absolute spirit (which emerges as the totality of all contradictory elements and their resolution—hence, it is conditioned by them); this conditioned is also supposed to be unconditioned or the ground or basis of those very elements that constitute it.

What Adorno is getting at in these passages is the following: It is the central claim of Hegel’s dialectics that later, more complex concepts or structures emerge due to internal contradictions in simpler structures, while at the same time also being their basis.[14] What comes later in his system is conditioned by what comes before it and also its condition. For example: ‘Being and ‘nothing’, the first concepts of Hegel’s Logic, are only distinguishable on the basis of the concepts of ‘determinate being’ (i.e. something that is or exists) and ‘becoming’: One can only distinguish between being and nothing if there is something, if something exists. Inversely, ‘determinate being’, or something particular that exists, has a limit where it is not; it is thus the unity of ‘being’ and ‘nothing’. Just as ‘becoming’ (and ‘fading away’) is the unity of ‘nothing’ and ‘being’, enabling a distinction between them (there was something, then it is gone, etc.). This mutual conditioning is called Aufhebung. To make matters worse, Hegel also proposes, as part of his larger dialectical project, that the contradictions present within nature or within societies are completely internal to those phenomena and yet also display the basic structures and types of contradictions Hegel previously analysed in his Logic.

There is no doubt that this is a problematic claim, to say the least, and Adorno was very critical of it, as I have already noted. One can try to make some sense of Hegel’s claim by pointing out that Hegel did not presuppose a world with “a plurality of equally legitimate and incommensurable claims”, as Pippin does. Rather, just as easily and unproblematically as Kant could assume that there is only a limited number of categories (all of which he identified correctly), Hegel assumes that there are only a limited number of structures and hence types of contradictions that can emerge, all of which he discusses in the abstract in his Logic. I do not want to engage in a discussion of whether Hegel’s argument is convincing in its own right or whether it can appeal to “modern philosophers” after the twentieth century, as Pippin worries. It is clear, however, that just because there is a problem with Hegel’s argument does not by itself prove that he must have made a different argument; in fact, Adorno and many others were well aware of this and other problems with Hegel. And yet, they assumed that he was trying to make this dialectical and metaphysical argument and that, despite its many problems, there is something impressive and of value in Hegel’s philosophy that deserves our attention. (I come back to this point below.)

Shuster’s second claim about Hegel is, as far as I can see, his original contribution to the non-metaphysical interpretation of Hegel. Again, the argument revolves around the notion of reason (and reasons). Drawing upon early Hegel interpreters, Shuster proposes that Hegel’s Phenomenology falls into two parts or books (p. 142). The first book ends with the section about reason, and the second one starts with spirit, before discussing religion and ending with absolute knowing. Shuster proposes that the first book ends with the conclusion that “our world is spiritual, permeated by social space” (p. 143):

The entire project of the Phenomenology from the ‘Spirit’ section onward is to trace our history […] to allow for the intellectual possession, in reflection, of what is already implicitly ours: our spiritual landscape. (pp. 148, 151)

For Shuster, the second part of the Phenomenology makes a claim about how we can truly own our concepts or way of interpreting the world. Hegel is thus speaking of “our concepts” (p. 150) and “reasons”—such as “[w]e fight because he is the king” (p. 148)—and how they stop being considered valid or, more generally, are “informed by [our] history” (p. 150). (It is, of course, no coincidence that Shuster sees Hegel as “affirming the possibility of the procedure Wittgenstein describes” [p. 150].)

This is interesting as it presents one way of making sense of Hegel on the basis of a non-metaphysical interpretation, or by way of speaking of reasons rather than reason. From a continental or historical perspective, however, this is not convincing. Two things must be borne in mind: First, the transition from reason to spirit is explained by the fact that, as mentioned, Hegel treats ‘self-conscious reason’ and spirit synonymously. (Spirit is self-conscious reason that ought to exist in the world.) Secondly, I am sure Shuster is aware of the fact that Hegel later integrated his phenomenology into his larger system. There is a part of the third book of the Encyclopædia, more precisely the section on subjective spirit, with the header: “Phenomenology of Spirit”. The discussion is more detailed, but just as in the earlier version, Hegel analyses sense certainty, perception, reason, and so on. And, indeed, there is a break where Shuster proposes a second book or part starts. As a matter of fact, the section entitled “Phenomenology” ends with the first mention of spirit. The next section discusses objective spirit (i.e. the state and its history) and the following discusses absolute spirit, including religion. On the one hand, this confirms Shuster’s point that there is a break in the Phenomenology. On the other, however, it clearly suggests that when Hegel is speaking of spirit, religion, and absolute knowing, he is referring to the progression that he later describes as objective spirit, and then absolute spirit (which has the subsections: art, religion and philosophy.)

The point is that, from a metaphysical or continental perspective, Hegel is clearly speaking of a progression whereupon reason, the rational structures outlined in the Logic, comes to exist in nature and society, and human beings come to know that. Initially, it happens only intuitively in art, then as religious sentiment (i.e. ‘God made the world and his reason is like ours, nature’s rational order coheres with our rational principles.’) Philosophy is then the last form of absolute spirit, because, with Hegel, human beings come to truly understand the nature of reason, the rational world and their own part within it.

The Phenomenology of Spirit is, of course, a very early work and Hegel’s thought matured over time. But when he speaks of absolute knowing, he means something that he later explained more in detail as absolute spirit: The entire world (not only meanings, norms and concepts, but the physical world, the physical interrelation of organs, the blood’s circulation within the body, the way the survival of different species is assured, natural laws) is organised according to rational principles, and human beings can come to know this. Subject and object, human rational thought, and natural and social reality, function according to the same principles. Shuster mentions Hegel’s famous dictum that the substance is also a subject, and interprets this to mean that “spirit” is the “substance” or “backdrop to all our actions” (p. 152). While, again, this is a fitting take for a non-metaphysical Hegelian, I believe that the transition from substance to subject in Hegel’s Logic clearly suggests that Hegel is basically saying that what underlies the physical and social world, Spinoza’s substance, must be understood as a gigantic, self-knowing subject, i.e. in terms of Kant’s theory of subjectivity. Hegel unites Spinoza and Kant on the basis of a metaphysical transformation of Kant’s conception of transcendental subjectivity: the system of categories (or the system of logical structures, for Hegel) comes to be considered the basis of the actual physical, natural, and social world.[15]

The question may be raised as to whether, if this is what Hegel is arguing, he can still be relevant today. Adorno, of course, mocks this approach, rejecting

[…] the loathsome question of what in Kant, and now Hegel has any meaning for the present. The inverse question is not even raised: what the present means in the face of Hegel; whether perhaps the reason one imagines one has attained since Hegel’s absolute reason has not in fact long since regressed behind the latter and accommodated to what merely exists, when Hegelian reason tried to set the burden of existence in motion through the reason that obtains even in what exists. (DSH 251/1)

What Adorno is getting at here is that however odd and incredibly idealist Hegel’s confident claims about reason may sound today, Hegel reminds us that reason ought to be more than what people happen to take to be right and rational at a particular moment in time. This is even truer after Auschwitz when it is as hard to believe in the progress of humankind as it is to accept that there is no universal standard or basis on which one can say that what seemed right and legitimate to Germans at the time (like ‘solving the Jewish problem’ once and for all) is actually wrong, and that it is not simply wrong from a particular perspective, i.e. the modern viewpoint of human rights (which does not apply to an anti-modern society that rejects those rights).

This is not the place to discuss in any detail what I take to be Hegel’s argument that the best and most rational society must include, as a central mechanism, a coordination of economic interests to the effect that one can shape one’s social role and ensure that everybody benefits.[16] Unsurprisingly, the best society for Hegel is the one that accommodates differences and contradictions most harmoniously (by allowing for contradictory interests to be collectively negotiated, letting individuals live their contradictory aspects, and so on). Independently of what you think of Hegel’s exact proposition, this is Adorno’s point: At least Hegel tries to show why particular social structures are objectively the best, thereby allowing for a discussion of whether these or other social constellations enable a higher degree of self-determination. This, of course, contrasts with Rawls, who merely proposes a mechanism, an imagined situation that could possibly help determine which social order is the best; and it contrasts with those who believe that there is no such thing as a best social order in the first place, but merely equally valid, historically embedded claims and reasons.


Adorno certainly uses the term ‘reason’ in a broad sense; in Kantian terminology, his conception of reason is certainly closer to reason in the broader sense—that includes the understanding, i.e. the law-like construction of objects with the help of the categories. Adorno is very liberal in his use of the term, which sometimes implies abstract concepts and necessary laws of thought (about objects).

Despite this broad usage of ‘reason’ and related terms, I have tried to show in this essay that there are very concrete and specific points about (different aspects of) reason, which Adorno develops with the help of references to historical predecessors:

(1) Reason as the standard of and tool for forming a coherent personality (and repressing one’s natural, irrational, incoherent, desiring self);

(2) Reason, or rather something that functions similarly to reason, acting as a structuring force in the market economy, which Smith famously dubbed the “invisible hand”;

(3) Reason as an inflexible, planned, unimaginative following of rules, which regresses into reflex-like unfreedom and requires irrationality as a way to tap into one’s repressed, natural self;

(4) Reason as the demand that what is truly right, legitimate, and justified, must be more than whatever human beings happen to believe in at a particular point in time.

I am sure that one can find more uses of the term in Adorno’s work and I am far from developing all the implications of the ones mentioned in this review. I merely hope that my discussion makes it clear why I think that ‘giving reasons’ for something does not capture all the important meanings of this term. Giving reasons, and even swapping one chain of rational reflection for another, does not address the problem of having such coherent chains of reasons in the first place; thus, one cannot even begin considering why this could be repressive towards oneself and alienate an individual from herself—and, consequently, also from others. In fact, while Shuster is right to insist that the suffering of individuals is an important yardstick for ‘the wrong’, according to Adorno, it is exactly this natural, physical, irrational, particular self that suffers and that one fails to notice in others if one treats them merely like equal rational agents or, even worse, as numbers or units of what one considers ‘the Jewry’.

Regarding the last point discussed above, it is clear that moving between different chains of rational reflection certainly addresses, to some extent, the problem of positivity. In other words, when you have different chains of reasons (rational justification) at your disposal, you do not simply believe in whatever happens to be valid according to the given standard of your society. Nevertheless, the question remains as to which particular chain of reasons it would be best to choose. What is truly and absolutely right and rational? And while this question may seem out-dated, Adorno thinks it is important to not discard this query, and that Kant’s or Hegel’s account of reason may be a good starting point for attempting to develop an answer.

Invited: 20 September 2016. Received: 5 June 2017.


[1] Adorno (2006a)/Adorno (2006b).

[2] Adorno (1995).

[3] Adorno (2003a).

[4] Adorno (2003d).

[5] Adorno (2003c).

[6] Cf. Baumann (2016a).

[7] Adorno & Horkheimer (2003).

[8| Hegel (1986b)/Hegel (1956).

[9] Marx (1956).

[10] Marx & Engels (1990).

[11] Hegel (1986a)/Hegel (1969).

[12] Hegel (1970)/Hegel (1991).

[13] Adorno (2003b)/Adorno (1993).

[14] For an interesting discussion of dialectics and immanent criticism in Hegel and Adorno, see Finlayson (2014).

[15] For Hegel’s conception of subjectivity in relation to Kant’s, see Düsing (1995:109ff., 233ff.). Also interesting in this regard is Horstmann (2006).

[16] See Baumann (2016b).


Adorno, Th. W. (1993), Hegel. Three Studies (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

——— (1995), Kants Kritik der Reinen Vernunft (1959) (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [VLKrV]

——— (2003a), Der Begriff des Unbewussten, in Th. W. Adorno, Gesammelte Schriften, volume 1 (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [BU]

——— (2003b), Drei Studien zu Hegel, in Th. W. Adorno, Gesammelte Schriften, volume 5 (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [DSH]

——— (2003c), Negative Dialektik (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [ND]

——— (2003d), ‘Zur Metakritik der Erkenntnistheorie’, in Th. W. Adorno, Gesammelte Schriften, volume 5 (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [ME]

——— (2006a), Zur Lehre von der Geschichte und der Freiheit (1964/65) (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [GF]

——— (2006b), History and Freedom: Lectures 1964–65, trans. R. Livingstone (Cambridge: Polity Press).

Adorno, Th. W. & M. Horkheimer (2003), Dialektik der Aufklärung (Frankfurt a/M: Fischer) [DA]

Baumann, C. (2016a), ‘Kant, Neo-Kantians and Transcendental Subjectivity’, European Journal of Philosophy (online first).

——— (2016b), ‘Hegel and Marx on Individuality and the Universal Good’, Hegel Bulletin (online first).

Brandom, R. (2009), Reason in Philosophy: Animating Ideas (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

Düsing, K. (1995), Das Problem der Subjektivität in Hegels Logik (Bonn: Bouvier).

Finlayson, G. (2014), ‘Hegel, Adorno and the Origins of Immanent Critique’, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22(6): 1142–66.

Hegel, G.W.F. (1956), The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree. (Mineola, NY: Dover).

——— (1969), Hegel’s Science of Logic, trans. A. Miller (New York: Humanity Books).

——— (1970), Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften I (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [Enz]

——— (1986a), Wissenschaft der Logik I (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [WL I]

——— (1986b), Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp). [VG]

——— (1991), The Encyclopædia Logic, trans. T. Geraets et al. (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett).

Horstmann, R.-P. (2006), ‘Substance, Subject and Infinity. A Case Study of the Role of Logic in Hegel’s System’, in K. Deligiorgi (ed.), Hegel: New Directions (Chesham: Acumen), pp. 69–84.

Jameson, F. (2007), Late Marxism: Adorno, Or, The Persistence of the Dialectic (London: Verso).

Marx, K. (1956), ‘Zur der Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie’, in Marx Engels Werke, volume 1 (Berlin: Dietz). [MEW 1]

Marx, K. & F. Engels (1990) ‘Die deutsche Ideologie’, in Marx Engels Werke, volume 3 (Berlin: Dietz). [MEW 3]

Pippin, R. (1990), ‘Hegel and Category Theory’, Review of Metaphysics 34(4): 839–48.

——— (2008), Hegel’s Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Russell, B. (2008), A History of Western Philosophy (New York: Simon & Shuster).

Schelling, F. (1994), ‘Hegel’, in A. Bowie (ed.), On the History of Modern Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

© Charlotte Baumann, 2017.

Charlotte Baumann is a visiting researcher at the Technische Universität Berlin. She obtained her Ph.D. in Philosophy, on the topic of Hegel’s logic and social philosophy, from the University of Sussex. Her research focuses on Neo-Kantianism, Hegel, Critical Theory and Marxism. Her articles have been published in, among other places, European Journal of Philosophy, the Hegel Bulletin and Philosophy and Social Criticism