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The Melancholy Science

  • Gillian Rose
Chapter

Abstract

The Dialectic of Enlightenment reveals the paradox of the late eighteenth-century concept of reason: instead of bringing emancipation as it promised, it turned out to be a new form of domination. Adorno, however, reveals more persistently the paradoxes of new philosophical and theoretical movements of the twentieth century which promise emancipation, ‘the dialectic of humanism’. Adorno and many other German writers of the inter-war period were attracted to an anti-humanist stance.1 They rejected the humanist legacy of historicism, philosophical anthropology, ‘realism’ in art, and epistemology, for these were seen as bankrupt, incapable of providing any analysis of a much-changed historical reality. Adorno held that these varieties of ‘anti-humanism’ were enslaving rather than liberating because they recreated the very evils which they sought to define and eschew. He thus recognised a ‘dialectic of humanism’ and showed how the ‘new’ philosophy, sociology, and literary theory relapsed into the assumptions which they deplored. He attributed this partly to the resurrection of the old ambition of philosophy to establish indubitable grounds for its own endeavour, and partly to the unrealistic attempt to make no concessions at all to the power of the old illusions and their social basis.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Cf. Tom Bottomore, ‘Class structure and social consciousness’, in Mészâros (ed.) Aspects of History and Class Consciousness (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971) pp. 49–64.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    See, for example, Peter McHugh et al., On the Beginning of Social Inquiry (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974)Google Scholar
  3. Alan Blum, Theorizing (London: Heinemann, 1974)Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    Herminio Martins has called this ‘the cognitive paradigm’, ‘Time and Theory in Sociology’, in John Rex (ed.), Approaches to Sociology An Introduction to major trends in British Sociology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974) pp. 251, 263.Google Scholar
  5. Aaron V. Cicourel, Cognitive Sociology (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973).Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Russell Keat and John Urry, Social Theory as Science (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), ch. 8, make a similar distinction, but then go on to make the mistake which I discuss, p. 18of.Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    For example, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971) pp. 106, 222, 225Google Scholar
  8. Geoff Pearson, ‘Misfit Sociology and the politics of socialization’, in Ian Taylor et al. (eds), Critical Criminology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975) p. 148f.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Talcott Parsons (ed. and tr.), The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: Macmillan, 1947) p. 103Google Scholar
  10. Weber, Wissenschaftslehre (Tübingen: Mohr, 1973) p. 554.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Cf. Morris Cohen, Reason and Nature (Glencoe: Free Press, 1952 (1931)) pp. 302, 390, to whom Parsons refers, op. cit., n. 25.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    See Ralf Dahrendorf’s discussion of this, ‘Sociology and Human Nature’, in Essays in the Theory of Society (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968) pp. 95–106;Google Scholar
  13. Dean C. Tipps, ‘Modernization Theory and the Comparative Study of Societies: A Critical Perspective’, in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 15 (1973) 222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 19.
    For example, Aaron Cicourel, Method and Measurement in Sociology (Glencoe: Free Press, 1964).Google Scholar

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© Gillian Rose 1978

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  • Gillian Rose

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