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The Frankfurt school, part 2: Negative dialectics
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Institutional Login. LOG IN. Negative Dialectics by Theodor W. Adorno review John A. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Leonardo, Vol. Access options available: Download PDF. Additional Information. To take the usual famous example: in the master-slave dialectic, the immanent content driving the relation, the desire and need for mutual recognition for self-consciousness, is in complete contradiction to the relational form of a master and slave.
The Frankfurt school, part 2: Negative dialectics | Peter Thompson | Opinion | The Guardian
What does this result in? The content and form are not in harmony and one must be cancelled eventually. Another example: Force and its Expression are first posited by the Understanding as the answer to the problem arising from Perception: how can an object be understood to be one and many at the same time?
Or: how is it intelligibly possible to conceive a unity of unity and difference? The answer to this problem is posed in the form of Force as an absolute universal principle underlying its differentiated Expression. Force is posited as an absolute content and Expression as a mere relative form of this content.
Tag: Negative Dialectics
Force itself is unable to provide an answer; thus, its structure of concepts are discarded, but from its process there is a positive concept gleamed from its total activity. From the failures of Force, we find a movement of cognition which reveals a structure of the kind which is sought as an answer.
Infinity appears as a concept which achieves the unity of unity and difference, and which explains how unitary oneness manifests as plural appearances. But this concept is only a new beginning, its structure goes beyond it and brings consciousness into the relation of infinity to infinity. Were Hegel a mere skeptic, we would expect that the negative dialectic would simply end with dissolution.
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The problem originally posed persists: What is the absolute and how can I know it with certainty? This question manifests with the absolute as the object of every form of consciousness, and its ways of knowing that presupposed object. They are all found to be insubstantial upon inquiry. The determinate negation of the opposition of consciousness as a whole is the remaining answer. Beyond these results, however, are also the interesting results of the nature of phenomenal consciousness—its possible structures of self-understanding and its relation to others and to the world.
In self-consciousness, we apply sense-certainty, perception, and understanding. These are preserved as momentary structures of knowing which are limited to accessing an object only in some manner, and are recognized as not absolute. All are possible forms of human consciousness, but all but one can logically function without prior forms available to them Absolute Knowing , yet this form of consciousness only comes onto the scene after the forms of natural consciousness are gone through in their complexity and show themselves to be inadequate as a whole, only then is the negation of the opposition of consciousness which we naturally presuppose overcome.
Opposed to the negative method, positive dialectics do not negate and dissolve the terms related. This type of dialectic is what is unique to Hegel in his particular way.
Everyone knew before Hegel that Becoming was an intermediary concept uniting Being and Nothing, yet apparently no one had quite known what to make of how this concept made sense in relation to Being and Nothing. Being is limited to what it applies to; Essence is limited to what it applies to; Concept is limited to what it applies to; Nature is limited to what it applies to.
Positive dialectics build upon concepts, showing limitations of concepts as their incompleteness and to the extent that they are incomplete they are untrue, but they are maintained through all subsequent developments. Like Like.