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Dialectics becomes materialist when the primacy of the object is established; yet, Adorno warns, “the primacy of the object notwithstanding, the thingness of the world is also illusory. It tempts the subjects to ascribe to the things themselves the social conditions of their production. This is elaborated in Marx’s chapter on the fetish …”13 What is crucial for Adorno is to combine “tenacious opposition against that which exists: against its thingness,” with a staunch rejection of attempts to identify thingness as evil.14 “In thingness there is an intermingling of both the object’s unidentical side and the subjection of people under the prevailing forms of production—their own functional relations, which are obscure to them.”15 While, on the one hand, thingness (das Dinghafte) stands for the subjection of people under alienating and mystifying forms of production; on the other, the thing stands for the non-identical, for that which escapes the clutch of instrumental reason. It does so more fully than the object, which is “the positive face of the non-identical”; in other words, “a terminological mask.”16 Objecthood is thingness objectified, subjected to concepts in the same way that a subject is a person become concept, a legal-philosophical abstraction; a thing is to an object as a person is to a subject.
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