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Difference and OrientationAn Alexander Kluge Reader$
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Alexander Kluge and Richard Langston

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501739200

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501739200.001.0001

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The Actuality of Adorno

The Actuality of Adorno

(p.450) 26 The Actuality of Adorno
Difference and Orientation

Alexander Kluge

, Richard Langston
Cornell University Press

This chapter details Alexander Kluge's acceptance speech on the occasion of receiving a prize named for Theodor W. Adorno. Kluge met Adorno when he was twenty-four years old and working as an attorney in Frankfurt. Adorno was a friendly and communicative man of his day. However, when it came to his work, he was a man of extreme incorruptibility and strict earnestness. In order to describe him more accurately, Kluge cites a central point in his thinking. He then mentions Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative: every moral individual should plan his actions such that they could provide maxims for a universal system of laws. Friedrich Nietzsche radicalized this principle: one should always act such that one could live with one's behavior knowing that one would have to repeat one's actions for all eternity. Adorno would presumably find Nietzsche's idea more lively and practical than Kant's formulation, but Nietzsche's phrasing would have been too existential for him, meaning irrelevant compared to the practical experiences of the 1940s. Adorno thus presents a more practical and decisive standard. Public expression, learning and education, in fact every expression of life, he says, exists under the postulate that Auschwitz not repeat itself. One sees in this imperative of Adorno's a sentence that repeats itself: There is no praxis without theory.

Keywords:   Alexander Kluge, Theodor W. Adorno, Immanuel Kant, Categorical Imperative, Friedrich Nietzsche, public expression, learning, education, praxis, theory

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