• AKA Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno
  • Key ConceptsPublishedTheodor Adorno: Key ConceptsEdited by Deborah Cook
  • Cook, Deborah, ed. Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts. Stocksfield, UK: Acumen, 2008.
  • Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno

Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life (Radical Thinkers)


Adorno spent two years in Vienna under the tutelage of Alban Berg, attracted to the close-knit circle of intellectuals who were gathered there at the time. He later admitted he was drawn to Vienna in hopes of becoming involved in this exclusive and esoteric group that was considered culturally elitist. This was a short-lived dream for Adorno because Schoenberg's new marriage would cause him to become inaccessible and eventually precipitated his move outside the city altogether. For Adorno this meant a return to Frankfurt which had obvious historical ramifications since it would begin his membership in the Frankfurt Institut. However, his stay in Vienna had a profound and lasting affect on him. The 'new music' which flowed out of the Second Viennese School and its founder would be the subjects of countless essays and books by Theodor Adorno. Who was this maestro Schoenberg and how did Adorno characterize the modern music that he equated with life itself?

Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) was born in the sun of Hollywood, beside the pools of Santa Monica, in the capital of mass culture designed to entertain and to (literally) stupefy the American public.� It would seem that the focal point for such a book, popular culture, is a slender reed for such a weighty philosophical discourse, but the authors Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer were German refugees who understood all too well the power of mass media.� Although in their early years in the Frankfurt School, or the Institute of Social Research, the scholars attached to this group were Marxist, they were not doctrinaire and were not orthodox.� Led by Horkheimer, the philosophers sought a way to update Marxism and to get beyond the failure of social revolution and to understand why this uprising among the lower classes did not take place.


Theodor Adorno was no stranger to controversy

immediacy 26, 56, 69, 79; see also mediation
impoverishment 7
individual 7, 13–16, 25, 26, 27, 29, 43,
55–6, 66, 71. 90, 94, 118–19, 120–21,
135–6, 137, 165, 166, 171, 191–3; see also
particular, society, subject
Ingarden, R. 96n31
instinct 6, 16, 29, 30, 31, 51, 53; see also
nature (internal)
Institute for Social Research 3–4, 33–4, 115,
116, 134
integration 14, 118, 190–92
intentionality 42, 81
intimacy 46, 124–7, see also love