Reply to Pickford

 

FABIAN FREYENHAGEN | Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly | Cambridge University Press 2013


 

By Fabian Freyenhagen

How can we be deeply historical, but not restricted to just reproduce in thought what unfolds around us? How can we claim that our human potential is being systematically thwarted by our social world, before this potential has ever been realised? How can we restrict knowledge to be only of what is bad for us, without giving up the utopian impulse that this cannot be all there could be? These are central questions for Adorno, and they are the questions to which Henry Pickford’s review of my Adorno’s Practical Philosophy (henceforth ‘APP’) speaks. Before attempting a reply, let me begin by noting that I am very thankful for his engaging so generously and thoughtfully with my book.

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Reply to Baumann, Hanna and Pickford

 

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


 

By Martin Shuster

Let me say thank you to the three respondents in this wonderful forum. I have learned a lot from all of their responses and they have each given me much to think about, suggesting potential future avenues of inquiry. More specifically, thank you to Henry Pickford for charitable, interesting, and frankly flattering comments about my book. Pickford and I have been in conversation about these issues for quite some time now, and I appreciate the opportunity to engage with such a sharp interlocutor. Robert Hanna’s response is also appreciated, especially for its intellectual generosity. Embedded in it is a sophisticated reading of Kant, which I unfortunately do not here have the space to address in the detail it would require. Finally, I am equally grateful to Charlotte Baumann’s rich, expansive, and highly probing comments. Especially, I am struck by the deep, and to my mind important, methodological issues that emerge from her commentary. In fact, when responding to her, I shall start with them in order to begin to address some of her more specific points. Let me address each critique in turn.
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Henry Pickford on Fabian Freyenhagen’s “Adorno’s Practical Philosophy”

 

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.

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Charlotte Baumann on Martin Shuster’s “Autonomy After Auschwitz”

 

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).
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