FABIAN FREYENHAGEN | Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly | Cambridge University Press 2013
By Henry Pickford
Fabian Freyenhagen’s book is an extraordinary achievement, in that if offers a comprehensive account of Adorno’s thoughts on practical and moral philosophy with far greater clarity, consistency, textual grounding and extra-textual, elucidatory and rigorous argumentation than previous studies. Embracing Adorno’s own method in his ‘Essay as Form’, Freyenhagen draws from a large number of Adorno’s texts, chiefly from the post-war period, some published during his lifetime and some thereafter, and including material from an archived, as yet unpublished lecture course on moral philosophy, to weave a dense texture of mutually supporting references that results in a far more unified picture of Adorno’s ethical thought than one might have thought possible; it is a book from which I have learned a great deal. Together with Bernstein (2001) this study will continue to inform and provoke debate surrounding Adorno’s ethics and, with Freyenhagen (2014), his politics.
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).