Reconciliation with nature: Adorno on reason, nature and critique

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In this paper I interrogate the actuality of Adorno’s concept of nature in the light of the contemporary environmental crisis. In particular, I try to understand what happens to the critical force of Adorno’s concept of nature if we accept that a decisive turn has been taken in the domination of nature. I articulate two key aspects of Adorno’s critical theory that I think are important resources for thinking in a time of potential environmental catastrophe, which are the themes of a dialectical understanding of reason and nature and the theme of “lifeless life”. I then question whether two key mediating concepts in Adorno’s dialectic, namely the concepts of self-reflection and self-preservation, need to be rethought. Finally, I consider how the concept of a reconciliation with nature, a concept central to the first generation of the Frankfurt school, can be thought anew in an era marked by ever increasing human domination of nature.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-32
Number of pages12
JournalAdorno Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019