Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund (1903–69)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD001-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved February 29, 2024, from

List of works

  • Adorno, T.W. (1933) Kierkegaard. Konstruktion des Ästhetischen, Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr; trans. R. Hullot-Kentor, Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

    (This is Adorno’s first major work, and it includes all the major themes – the critique of existentialism as abstract, the role of aesthetics, the thematics of sacrifice – that will come to dominate his thought. The introduction to the translation by Hullot-Kentor is helpful.)

  • Adorno, T.W. and Horkheimer, M. (1947) Dialektik der Aufklärung, Amsterdam: Querido; trans. J. Cumming, Dialectic of Enlightenment, London: Allen Lane and New York: Herder & Herder, 1972.

    (This is the founding document of first-generation Critical Theory in which the critique of instrumental reason comes to displace the critique of political economy. It includes Adorno’s famous treatment of Odysseus as already enacting the Enlightenment sacrifice of the particular to the universal, and his analysis of the culture industry.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1949) Philosophie der neuen Musik, Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr; trans. A.G. Mitchell and W. Blomster, Philosophy of Modern Music, Sheed & Ward, 1973.

    (Adorno’s classic defence of Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve-tone system as the high point of musical modernism. Its conception of modern music was the crucial source for Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1951) Minima Moralia. Reflexion aus dem Beschädigten Leben, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; trans. E.F.N. Jephcott, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, London: New Left Books, 1974.

    (One hundred and fifty-three dazzling aphorisms, in which Adorno reflects on the vanishing of concrete, individual experience in modern, bourgeois society. Its fluent mixture of philosophy and cultural criticism makes it the most accessible of Adorno’s works.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1956) Zur Metakritik der Erkenntnistheorie. Studien über Husserl und die phänomenologischen Antinomien, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer; trans. W. Domingo, Against Epistemology: A Metacritique, Studies in Husserl and the Phenomenological Antinomies, Oxford: Blackwell, 1982.

    (A dense reading of Husserl’s phenomenology, with the emphasis on the inevitable abstractness of the phenomenological method, and hence its loss of the very concreteness it seeks.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1957) ‘Sociology and Empirical Research’, in T.W. Adorno et al., Der Positivismusstreit in der deutschen Soziologie, Neuwied and Berlin: Luchterhand, 1969; trans. G. Adey and D. Frisby, The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology, London: Heinemann, 1970.

    (Includes essays by Popper, Habermas, Dahrendorf, Harald Pilot and Hans Albert, among others. The translation also includes a review of the original by Popper, and a helpful introduction by David Frisby.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1963) Drei Studien zu Hegel, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; trans. S.W. Nicholsen, Hegel: Three Studies, Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 1993.

    (These very essayistic explorations of Hegel elaborate the competing ideals of rationality in dialectical and deductive thinking.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1964) Jargon der Eigentlichkeit. zur deutschen Ideologie, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; trans. K. Tarnowski and F. Will, Jargon of Authenticity, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973.

    (Adorno’s fiercely critical account of Martin Heidegger’s existentialism as abstract and ahistorical.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1966) Negative Dialektik, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; trans. E.B. Ashton, Negative Dialectics, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973.

    (This work pursues an immanent critique of the idealism of Kant and Hegel as the vehicle for a critique of modern instrumental reason. It contains Adorno’s most sustained arguments concerning the nature of human conceptuality, and his famous reflections on the meaning of philosophy ‘after Auschwitz’.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1970) Ästhetische Theorie, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; trans. R. Hullot-Kentor, Aesthetic Theory, London: Athlone Press, and Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

    (Arguably this is the premier work of twentieth-century philosophical aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Transforming the central concepts of modern aesthetics accordingly, Adorno contends that the works of high modernism model a suppressed conception of human rationality that challenges that of Enlightenment rationalism.)

  • Adorno, T.W. (1992) ‘The Curious Realist: On Siegfried Kracauer’, in Notes to Literature, trans. S.W. Nicholson, New York: Columbia University Press.

    (Adorno’s account of the thought and influence of his early tutor.)

References and further reading

  • Bernstein, J.M. (1992) The Fate of Art: Aesthetic Alienation from Kant to Derrida and Adorno, Oxford: Polity Press and State College, PA: Penn State Press.

    (Chapters 4 and 5 detail the argument of §5.)

  • Bernstein, J.M. (1994) The Frankfurt School, vol. 2: Horkheimer and Adorno, London: Routledge.

    (Contains twenty of the best journal articles on the whole range of Adorno’s output, including influential pieces by Jürgen Habermas on Dialectic of Enlightenment and Albrecht Wellmer on Aesthetic Theory.)

  • Bernstein, J.M. (1997) Adorno: Of Ethics and Disenchantment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    (Expounds the analysis of concepts and rationality in §3, and relates it to the ethical vision animating Adorno’s philosophy.)

  • Buck-Morss, S. (1977) The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and The Frankfurt Institute, Hassocks, Sussex: Harvester Press.

    (An intellectual biography of Adorno that usefully focuses on the deep influence of his friend Walter Benjamin in the formation of several of the key concepts in Adorno’s theory.)

  • Jarvis, S. (1986) Adorno: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge: Polity Press.

    (An illuminating study that tracks Adorno’s Hegelianism and his use of the idea of determinate negation through the breadth of his work.)

  • Jay, M. (1984) Adorno, London: Fontana.

    (A clear introduction for the general reader, but without a sharp, philosophical focus.)

  • Rose, G. (1978) The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno, London: Macmillan.

    (An advanced introduction, particularly strong on reification and the concept of dialectic.)

  • Sacks, M. (1990) ‘Through a Glass Darkly: Vagueness in the Metaphysics of the Analytic Tradition’, in D. Bell and N. Cooper (eds) The Analytic Tradition: Meaning, Thought and Knowledge, Oxford: Blackwell.

    (Elaborates the suggestion about language made in §3 in Wittgensteinian terms.)

  • Zuidervaart, L. (1991) Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory: The Redemption of Illusion, Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press.

    (A sound study of Adorno’s aesthetics, especially useful on the central terms of Adorno’s argument in Aesthetic Theory. Zuidervaart is critical of Adorno’s strong cognitivist approach to art.)

Citing this article:
Bernstein, J.M.. Bibliography. Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund (1903–69), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD001-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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