Adorno on Pleasure: The Critique of Psychoanalysis

Theodor Adorno, the Arch-curmudgeon of the Frankfurt School of Critical theory, devotes a brief but substantial section of his Minima Moralia to a …

Adorno on Pleasure: The Critique of Psychoanalysis

———- A mix of critique and psychoanalysis.

Interestingly enough, I finally read Walter Benjamin’s “art in the age of mechanical reproduction”. I never realized that it was a short little essay. Lol. In my undergrad I remember reading one of Benjamin’s books for class and it was a thick ass book. So I thought this famous little essay would be a monster. But it’s really tiny.

It’s interesting also reading this post about Adorno and psychoanalysis in comparison to Benjamin’s essay.

Benjamin’s essay didn’t really impress me very much. Somehow from what I remember in my undergraduate class which was about modernity and the development of intentional city space, I thought this famous little essay would be packed with meaningful significance.

Instead I saw an author who’s whining because people are not conforming with his enlightenment view of art.

In reading the tiny essay, I got the distinct feeling of what now I can really classify as “enlightenment” review of the world, which is to say, that coming out of the 19th century, and the imposition of industrialization, the people that ended up in these densely packed cities, and indeed after a world war, look back to some sort of yesteryear of infinite promise that has been thwarted by modern industrialization.

And then I think back, or within, my own generation, and the world that we bring for the next generation, like the millennials or generation Z, and I can’t help but notice that there seems to be this incessant resistance to see what humanity actually is. It seems like part of humanity is to hang onto its childhood, grow up a little bit, find that the world sucks, think back to “the good old days”, and then just struggle every day to make the world how it should’ve been.

So this tendency for humanity I would say is part of indeed of how humanity is; which is to say, that this is what humanity does.

But then also I think what it does is it just is. Humanity literally just does what it likes to do, whatever that is. And then the world manifests in such a way that is different than it was noticeably 20 or 30 years ago. It appears as though every 20 or 30 years a noticeable difference arises with the human ability to notice.

Further, I don’t believe that human beings as a whole group are necessarily heading in any direction. It appears to me as if what human beings do also is think that they move towards something intentionally.

Wow this may happen on a small scale individually, I think I’d even go far to say that, in a very Jordan Peterson ask kind of manner, people are always looking toward the telos, Out toward the horizon, and never paying much attention to what’s going on right in front of them. It seems human beings, at least as a group, avoid the Local, or I should say, the way that human beings conceive the local it’s typically through already having gone out to the horizon and then attempting to look back. I think this is just what human beings do, and that it is not that human beings are really changing anything by doing this. It’s more that this is how human beings manifest themselves as a being in the universe.

Innoway I feel that this is wet Adorno is saying through the comment upon psychoanalysis. He’s really saying that the pleasure principle and reason are one in the same. Even though Adorno would have it appear as some sort of critique of modern industrial capitalism, I think he is saying more about what humans actually do in so much as this is what we are. 

I think there’s something to say also about The mortality of human beings 100+ years ago compared to now, the ability to see and conceptualize, and that pretty much the development of cities at least in America, was by young people. It seems that the capitalism that has been left to us for modernity is a kind of childish dream. It was not so much that they were all these mature people coming to the cities to do shit, as much as there was an abundance of young inexperienced people who came to the cities to try and get work because they were sick of farming. And then they got together and started doing all these drugs, like cocaine and caffeine and alcohol and tobacco and heroin, and started thinking about how great they are. Fueled by these intoxicants which really flame self-centeredness and Narcissist self righteousness, here is massive amounts of people who are being left a traditional culture of dog eat Dog competition. And they’re all getting high all the time with each other in a densely packed culture.

It’s no wonder that the world is so fucked up when we look back to the lineage of tradition and think that they had such wise things to say. Because in actuality they were just a bunch of kids separated from their families, raising families, being pissed off and frustrated, developing ways to put food in their mouth’s not through actually doing physical labor where they have to engage with the actual universe, but on the contrary, sitting around and trying to do the best they can to do nothing but think about things in order for them to justify why they’re sitting around getting buzzed and thinking about things.


I think to move forward, we should begin to maybe look at this kind of tradition that we think was so great, populated by people who were so smart.

Maybe when we look back to these wonderful essays and ideas about what humanity is and what is not and what it should be, maybe we would be better equipped to understand what was going on when we see that they were basically having growing pains from adolescence.



Theodor Adorno and Our Enslavement to Commodity Fetishism

Theodor Adorno is probably the most important 20th century Marxist philosopher, sociologist, and social critic.  The fundamental crux of Adorno is …

Theodor Adorno and Our Enslavement to Commodity Fetishism

To The Doctor who asked me to make sure people know that I am posting another person’s blog (she thought I was trying to take credit for her ideas by reposting them):

Is there anyone reading this who thinks that I wrote this piece about Adorno?

Critical Theory and Philosophy, revisited.

I tend to conflate critical theory with critical thinking.

I think the philosophers or theorists or authors who came up with the term “critical theory” for what they were doing, or for some class of social comment, was simply extending philosophical motion and applying it to ideology as though ideology was something separate from the philosophical situation. To my mind they did not want to make the philosophically sound argument why philosophy should be able to address something like ideology or Social constructs. So instead they just proceeded to use philosophical ideas towards ideology, and called it a day.

They were thinking philosophically about the presentation of the social world. But they could not just call it another kind of philosophy because then they would have to justify how it is possible they could make such claims as they did, whybsuch claims should have veracity or relevance. So instead they called it “critical”, and because it really has no basis for a discussion of reality except that reality is already presented to the analysis, they called it “theory”.

For example, Theodor Adorno’s “negative dialectics” , perhaps his most noted work, arises out of the philosophical deadlocks of his time that we found, say, with existentialism (But really The encompassing deadlock of Wittgenstein). It is a negative dialectics because there is no dialectical way to step into a critique of social presentation except to continue in the philosophical traditional manner, which if a person is to introduce themselves within the context of philosophy would never get outside or beyond the “positive” dialectics of philosophical tradition.

But the short of it is that Adorno, as well as Walter Benjamin who made a similar critique of art and mechanization and industry, we’re simply using “thinking skills” and not philosophy as such towards their work. Contrary to philosophy as a methodology, they were actually merely using philosophical ideas and not making a philosophical argument. They were using their thinking skills, their skills at thinking, to critique categorical Givens around the use of society (modes of production) to, according to a philosophical idea without a necessary argument, “Destruct” The field of “being there”, or as Derrida argued of Heidegger, The critical theorists were involved in an effort to ‘destroy the spirit’, so to speak, attempting to correct what was apparently or assumed to be faulty of capitalistic production in the order towards bringing the spirit back to life, again, so to speak. (One could argue that Laurelle’s nonphilosophy — but indeed much of academic philosophy in general — is still involved with this attempt.)

I would say then that critical theory has to do with an ability to think critically. Where as philosophy is a particular set of processes and conclusions linked to history and tradition and how they coordinate with the cosmological position of the human subject in the universe. Hence, Quentin Meillassoux’s “critical philosophy” which notices “correlationalism”.

And so actually, come to think of it, THe SECOND PART (the object of the subject) of the philosophical hack by Cedric Nathaniel actually discusses how we might think critically about philosophy, Instead of just thinking philosophically about philosophy, which then only lends itself a way out of itself to arrive back within itself, as do all theoretical mandates of theological dimension: there is always a transcendental “out” which leads back into the same state. Thinking philosophically about philosophy leads to the same state — that is, unless there occurs a “philosophical break” or Event, but then we’re getting into Zizekian waters there. Heh.


In light of my recent post about trying to speak to people who are not already informed about the “traditional” philosophical debates:

Of course what I’m writing here and this post is very informed by the jargon terms of philosophy and people and the ongoing issues in philosophy.

But I contend that if a person reads what I wrote without the invested idea that the reader needs to know what these other authors are saying in order to understand what I am saying, then they indeed will understand what I am saying. And this approach upon the text will inevitably lead the reader to understand what these other authors are saying before they read them Becuase when (if) they read them they will already have an understanding of the position from which they derive their discourses as a reader. (For, the significant philosophical question that is being set aside for our time —this time — is exactly how it is we are able to know what the author might be saying when every appropriation of text is subjective, I.e. subject to the Postmodern Condition, and then how what is read as not subjective is indeed constrained by correlation.)

What I am saying is that no one needs to understand what these other authors have said in order to understand what I’m saying about them. And if a person takes that approach to what I’m writing, then it doesn’t matter whether or not they’ve read anything by the Frankfurt school or not, becuase indeed critical thoery assumes that the subject is already in play in the state that it is in, such that reading, say, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, becomes unnecessary as due to the fact that the reader is already engaged in the significant discourse: The very discourse that will draw their intrest as a reader.

And this is the case because Critical Theory is not Philosophy, but rather uses philosophical ideals and tropes to make thier case which only concerns the reader under certain conditions.

We lead more by example than by instruction.

Philosophy is not a manner of thinking. But Critical Theory exemplifies what Thinking might be philosophically: critical thinking skills are not thinking philosophically unless there is already an investment in reproducing the “art” of “philosophical thinking”, which can be understood as indeed a type of thought linked to history and tradition.

But I could be wrong.

I don’t really know because no one leaves a comment!!!




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