The Fate of the Nonidentical: Auschwitz and the Dialectic of Enlightenment
This chapter retraces the development of the notion of nonidentical in Adorno’s early work. Dialectic of Enlightenment relates how enlightened reason, in its effort to overcome myth, disqualified everything that did not meet its newly enthroned criteria of verifiability, univocity, non-contradiction and, last but not least, identity. Minima Moralia explores the implications of “identity thinking” in the private sphere. This chapter examines Adorno’s claim that enlightened reason is amoral, and shows how his analysis of phenonema such as the withering of experience, the fungibility of modern man, antisemitism, and the rise of totalitarianism, relate to his notion of the nonidentical, which Adorno will develop in its full theoretical scope only in his later work.