“Out of piety, laziness, and calculation, philosophy continues to muddle through in an ever narrower academic framework, and even there, it is increasingly being replaced with organized tautology. Whoever entrusts themselves to credentialed profundity, fall victim just as a hundred years ago to the compulsion to be, at every moment, just as naive as one’s colleagues, on whom one’s career depends. But extra-academic thinking, which would like to elude such compulsion as well as the contradiction between high-flown materials and narrow-minded treatment, is threatened by a scarcely less urgent danger: by the economic pressure of the market… Philosophers who want to earn a living as authors, must offer at every instant something rarefied, something exquisite, maintaining themselves through the monopoly of rarity, as it were, as opposed to that of credentials. The noisome concept of the inspirational sound-bite [geistigen Leckerbissens: spiritual tidbit, taste of enlightenment], dreamed up by pedants, ends up scoring an embarrassing point against its nay-sayers.”
This extract is from Adorno’s literary and philosophical masterpiece Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life by Theodor W. Adorno — a brilliant reflection on everyday existence in the ‘sphere of consumption of late Capitalism‘ and one of the seminal texts in Critical Theory. Built from aphorisms and reflections, he shifts in register from personal experience to the most general theoretical problems.
Adorno, Theodor. 1944. Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life. Part 1, Aphorisms 41. (open access)