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The Fleeting Promise of ArtAdorno's Aesthetic Theory Revisited$
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Peter Uwe Hohendahl

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452369

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452369.001.0001

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The Ephemeral and the Absolute

The Ephemeral and the Absolute

The Truth Content of Art

Chapter:
(p.57) 2 The Ephemeral and the Absolute
Source:
The Fleeting Promise of Art
Author(s):

Peter Uwe Hohendahl

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801452369.003.0003

This chapter examines the significance of the absolute for Theodor Adorno's aesthetic theory, with particular emphasis on his interpretation of the status of art in late modernism. The point of departure is a reading of Adorno that stresses the continuity from Dialectic of Enlightenment to Aesthetic Theory with respect to the centrality of the concept of reason and its defense vis-à-vis intellectual and social reification. The chapter considers Adorno's aesthetic theory as a historically inflected theory of rationality applied to art. Going against the dominant reading of Adorno's theory that sees it as a means to rescue modern art through the use of determinate negation, it highlights Adorno's abandonment of this position in some sections of Aesthetic Theory. More specifically, it discusses Adorno's claim that aesthetic experience must lead to and become philosophy, thereby shifting the truth content of artwork to philosophy but also acknowledging the fleeting character of art.

Keywords:   absolute, Theodor Adorno, modernism, Aesthetic Theory, social reification, modern art, aesthetic experience, philosophy, artwork

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