Theodor Adorno on philosophy‬, academia, and market

adorno Theodor Adorno:

“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)

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  1. […] “Most of what I try fails”, Haushofers honestly writes in the introduction to his resume, “but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days. This CV of Failures is an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.” Without exaggeration, I find this daring act of Prof. Haushofers inspiring and encouraging, especially for junior scholars. In fact, this reminded me an amazing story of rejection Mark ‪Granovetter‬’s seminal paper. The lesson of both is similar: pull yourself together, get over, grind away and keep up! Rejections and failures are an inseparable part on the course to self-realization. ——————— See also: “Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?” // Probably the best “Acknowledgments” ever // Albert Einstein on the power of ideas and imagination in science // The Art of Writing // Overly honest reference: “Should we cite the crappy Gabor paper here?” // Theodor Adorno on philosophy‬, academia and the market […]

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