Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 1 (2017)

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

Nonidentity, Materialism and Truth in Adorno's Negative Dialectics

Terrence Thomson


The primary concern of the present paper is to answer the question, ‘What is the relation between non-identity and truth in Adorno’s Negative Dialectics?’ It employs Adorno’s articulation of the ‘outside’ of philosophy (á la Aristotle’s first matter), which underpins the need for conceptual constellations if we are to mimetically examine the non-conceptual thing. Following this a further question presents itself: how do these engagements inflict a critical mark on the Hegelian method of totalization – the dialectic of truth? The essay ends with an analysis of two films, Metropolis and Primal Fear, aimed at separating out Hegelian conceptions of truth from Adornian unresolved truth; the former aimed at a universal, the latter indicative of a non-identical aporia. We must conclude with the possibility that to leave the unresolved nature of non-identity unresolved for truth is the ontological challenge par excellence that presented itself to Adorno’s negative dialectics as it presents itself to post-Kantian continental philosophy today.

Full Text: PDF