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MIT Press, 1983 - Philosophy - 272 pages
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Prisms, essays in cultural criticism and society, is the work of a critic and scholarwho has had a marked influence on contemporary American and German thought. It displays the unusualcombination of intellectual depth, scope, and philosophical rigor that Adorno was able to bring tohis subjects, whether he was writing about astrology columns in Los Angeles newspapers, the specialproblems of German academics immigrating to the United States during the Nazi years, or Hegel'sinfluence on Marx.In these essays, Adorno explores a variety of topics, ranging from Aldous Huxley'sBrave New World and Kafka's The Castle to Jazz, Bach, Schoenberg, Proust, Veblen's theory ofconspicuous consumption, museums, Spengler, and more. His writing throughout is knowledgeable,witty, and at times archly opinionated, but revealing a sensitivity to the political, cultural,economic, and aesthetic connections that lie beneath the surfaces of everyday life.Theodor W. Adorno(1903-1969) was a student of philosophy, musicology, psychology, and sociology at Frankfurt where helater became Professor of Philosophy and Sociology and Co-Director of the Frankfurt School. Duringthe war years he lived in Oxford, in New York, and in Los Angeles, continuing to produce numerousbooks on music, literature, and culture.Prisms is included in the series, Studies in ContemporaryGerman Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.


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About the author (1983)

Theodor W. Adorno is the progenitor of critical theory, a central figure in aesthetics, and the century's foremost philosopher of music. He was born and educated in Frankfurt, Germany. After completing his Ph.D. in philosophy, he went to Vienna, where he studied composition with Alban Berg. He soon was bitterly disappointed with his own lack of talent and turned to musicology. In 1928 Adorno returned to Frankfurt to join the Institute for Social Research, commonly known as The Frankfurt School. At first a privately endowed center for Marxist studies, the school was merged with Frankfort's university under Adorno's directorship in the 1950s. As a refugee from Nazi Germany during World War II, Adorno lived for several years in Los Angeles before returning to Frankfurt. Much of his most significant work was produced at that time. Critics find Adorno's aesthetics to be rich in insight, even when they disagree with its broad conclusions. Although Adorno was hostile to jazz and popular music, he advanced the cause of contemporary music by writing seminal studies of many key composers. To the distress of some of his admirers, he remained pessimistic about the prospects for art in mass society. Adorno was a neo-Marxist who believed that the only hope for democracy was to be found in an interpretation of Marxism opposed to both positivism and dogmatic materialism. His opposition to positivisim and advocacy of a method of dialectics grounded in critical rationalism propelled him into intellectual conflict with Georg Hegel, Martin Heidegger, and Heideggerian hermeneutics.

Shierry Weber Nicholsen teaches environmental philosophy and psychology in Antioch University Seattle's M.A. Program on Environment and Community and is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice in Seattle. She has translated several works by Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas.

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