Where does Adorno find this quote of Marx?



In Negative Dialectics, Adorno quotes Marx as saying:

even if a society has found a natural law of motion - and the present works ultimate goal is to unveil the law of modern society economic motion - natural evolutionary phases can be neither skipped nor decreed out of existence ...

I certainly do not depict the landowner, or the capitalist in any rosy-light. But this is a matter of persons insofar as they personify economic categories, insofar as they are carriers of specific class relationships and interests. I comprehend the development of society's economic formation of society as a process of natural history, less than any other does my standpoint permit holding the individual responsible for conditions whose social creature he remains, no matter how far he may subjectively rise above them.

First, it seems likely, given the first few sentences, that this quote is from Capital, is it?

Second, what does the last sentence mean in relation to the preceding paragraph?

Mozibur Ullah

Posted 2016-07-26T23:22:55.070

Reputation: 1

Isn't Adorno one of the founders of that "post-modern" school where "being deep is being unintelligible"? The second paragraph is a clear example of waste of words to me. – Rodrigo – 2016-07-27T00:32:41.723

@rodrigo: well, he doesn't use the word post-modern, so probably not; my understanding is that like Arendt, he had no followers and left no school; the second paragraph makes sense to me (apart from the last sentence); whether I agree with it, though is a seperate question, and there's always room for disagreement; it seems to me though, that you're simply disparaging complex phrasing and eloquent language: can you pinpoint which sentence is a clear waste of words? – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-07-27T00:52:05.390

"he doesn't use the word post-modern, so probably not" Many "philosophers" cite Adorno as a reference, so your "so" makes no sense. Laozi only left a book, and is the "founder" of taoism. He also didn't had the word "taoist", btw. Waste of words is to employ 5.4 lines to express what you could possibly have said in 3 or 4. Some could do it in 2 lines, probably. Express the same amount of information, in a concise, precise and clear way. Those "teachers" are only there to give students headaches and nightmares. Where are the good writers? The good philosophers? Not there! – Rodrigo – 2016-07-27T01:01:33.790

Or maybe people are so used with Adorno's way of writing (I'm supposing he's not even citing the real Marx...) that any clarity and parsimony is not regonized as such, but as rudeness and violence? – Rodrigo – 2016-07-27T01:05:50.027

@rodrigo: simply because someone cites a writer doesn't mean that they form a school; Laozi does actually use the word tao; it's used three times in the first line - the Tao that is the Tao is not the true Tao; actually Adornos writing implicitly quotes a lot of writers and takes a lot of context for granted which is why it's difficult. – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-07-27T01:31:54.803

@MoziburUllah: Adorno, unlike Arendt, left a very literal school.

– ig0774 – 2016-07-27T01:34:16.430

@MoziburUllah "doesn't mean that they form a school" No, doesn't mean. But post-modernism became a school, "Adorno and postmodernism" in Google brings 186,000 English results. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/adorno/ "Long before 'postmodernism' became fashionable, Adorno and Horkheimer wrote one of the most searching critiques of modernity (...) Reason, they answer, has become irrational" The seed of postmodern attack on modern science, responsible for the religious recrudescence of today. Wikipedia "influenced by Adorno" brings names familiar to postmodern circles. And Tao is not taoist.

– Rodrigo – 2016-07-27T02:17:32.280

@rodrigo: I'm not sure that I understand you - does this mean that you've become post-modernist? If the Tao is not Taoist, does this mean science is not scientific? And literature is not literary? – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-07-27T03:00:09.470

@MoziburUllah No, I just mean that Laozi never used the word "taoist" (although he said Dao many times). It's not the word that make him the founder of a school. It's the amount of people who cited him, it's the main ideas he spread. Now I think the links I gave (and the many others at Google) may show my point about Adorno. – Rodrigo – 2016-07-27T10:51:57.180

It's a joke; I get it that you don't like Adorno; now can you point out which sentence in the second paragraph of the quoted extract - none of which is by Adorno - you say is unclear and why? – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-07-27T13:21:31.153

@Rodrigo - There are things that are uncomplicated, and using complicated language to discuss them is unwarranted. But there are things that are complicated, and trying to speak about them in simple language will most probably lead to oversimplifications and false analogies. Of course, when we speak of uncomplicated things in uncomplicated language, falseties and non sequiturs are usually obvious. When we speak in complicated language, be it about simple or complex things, reasoning flaws are easier to conceal. That's why charlatans make use of complicated language... – Luís Henrique – 2016-08-06T13:12:48.397

... but this does not mean that anyone using complicated language is a charlatan. There are subjects that are notoriously difficult and need complex reasoning. I very much fear the anti-intellectual backlash that rejects anything more complicated than Trumpspeak merely because it is complicated. Moreso, because things do not necessarily seem simple only when they are effectively simple, nor they necessarily look complex only when they are so. And the reasoning to make the difference between simple and complex probably inhabits the lands of complexity... – Luís Henrique – 2016-08-06T13:17:22.023

"I comprehend the development of (...) may subjectively rise above them." That's a hell of a sentence to me. Darwin also was no good writer. The Origin of Species is boring as hell, and the same complex field was much better explained by men like Edward Wilson, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould. Now in the humanities we have lots of guys who are experts in hiding a total lack of content behind overly complicated language, as Alan Sokal showed us. And as far as I can see, Adorno was one of the founders of that "postmodern" school. – Rodrigo – 2016-08-06T17:40:20.397

@Rodrigo - Sokal proved that it was possible to submit a meaningless paper to academic journal of postmodern cultural studies that didn't practice peer review of articles submitted to it. This doesn't prove that other texts are meaningless, only that a given journal's editorial council was unable to spot a hoax. The sentence you quote reads absolutely clear to me; what would your problem in understanding it? – Luís Henrique – 2016-08-09T15:22:56.243

And of course Adorno wasn't a founder of post-modernism; post-modernists may have been inspired by his works, but to attribute him the status of a post-modernist, even if the first one, is an anachronism. – Luís Henrique – 2016-08-09T15:24:51.050

@LuísHenrique The whole Sokal affair is not about showing a flaw in one journal, but a critique against all so-called postmodernity in science. They "refuse all metanarratives", as if this wasn't already a metanarrative in itself. The quoted sentence could be rewritten with much more clarity and fewer words. Of course, not all bad writer is a postmodern, but postmoderns use bad writing as part of their method. Adorno started with key elements of the postmodern game: so-called "Critical Theory" and the infamous critique of reason, that only served so far to give the power back to religion. – Rodrigo – 2016-08-09T20:48:19.290

1@rodrigo: conversely, there is also bad use of scientific & mathematical idiom, no? Actually, in Negative Dialectics, Adorno says very good things in support of the scientific method; are you suggesting that Reason itself can be above critique? This seems to me a little dogmatic. – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-08-10T20:42:48.300

In a democracy like ours, the masses should be more rational than they actually are. They're mostly blinded by religious prejudice and media superficiality, both increased by the postmodern "critique of reason". The masses need to understand what science have found out so far (and the absence of "proof" in the scientific method), not that "religious truth" and "scientific truth" are just "the truth someone chooses as his/her personal truth". To say good things as well as bad things about something, with the former inside "harder phrases" is something I wouldn't be surprised if done by Adorno. – Rodrigo – 2016-08-11T19:17:26.780

1@rodrigo: well, I'm part of the masses that you so despise and are contemptuous of, and I've also studied science to a far higher standard than you are capable of; it seems to me that you're merely blinded by a scientistic ideology and agenda: science has only ever been done by a minority, for good reason, since at a high level it's difficult and hard. I suggest you study try studying a hard discipline like physics of mathematics to a high level before talking about something you obviously no next to nothing about; – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-08-12T19:34:17.727

1is it the fruits of science - it's technology - and the power that technology harnesses that attracts you? In that case you're even more superficial than the masses you so despise. What lifts you above the mass, you're contemptuous of? What on earth have you done that makes you think you're part of the elite of anything? Perhaps as a king of bullshit... – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-08-12T19:36:31.070

1To which kingdom you're more than welcome to. – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-08-12T19:36:53.460

@MoziburUllah I'm not contemptuous of the masses, on the contrary. I think the masses have the right to know the basics of science, but postmodernism have contributed to let the masses ignorant, thus controllable by ruthless religious leaders (as it's the case in Brazil and USA nowadays, but not only those two, of course). – Rodrigo – 2016-08-12T22:58:55.987

So, @MoziburUllah, have you understand it? Or don't you like to admit that your preferred mythology is evil? – Rodrigo – 2016-08-18T06:52:15.170

@rodrigo: I don't follow you; but we don't want to clutter comments; lets try chat

– Mozibur Ullah – 2016-08-20T07:53:58.833



The quote is from the preface to the first edition of Capital, although similar things can be found elsewhere in Marx's writings.

To take a stab at the relation: The last sentence seems to reiterate a bit of the point of the preceding paragraph, namely that there are natural laws that guide economic and social development. The first paragraph more or less lays out that there are stages to this development that must be followed. The last sentence adds to this the claim that from the point of view of the development of society, individuals are not terribly important. Of course, society is a collection of individuals, but those individuals are who they are in part by being members of a specific society at a specific point in its development. Put a different way, Julius Caesar, brought up in 19th-century London would probably bear little resemblance to the historical Julius Caesar.


Posted 2016-07-26T23:22:55.070

Reputation: 1 560