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Against Epistemology: A Metacritique

ISBN: 978-0-7456-6538-2
256 pages
March 2013, Polity
Against Epistemology: A Metacritique (0745665381) cover image
This classic book by Theodor W. Adorno anticipates many of the themes that have since become common in contemporary philosophy: the critique of foundationalism, the illusions of idealism and the end of epistemology. It also foreshadows many of the key ideas that were developed by Adorno in his most important philosophical works, including Negative Dialectics.

Against Epistemology is based on a manuscript Adorno originally wrote in Oxford in 1934-37 during his first years in exile and subsequently reworked in Frankfurt in 1955-56. The text was written as a critique of Husserl’s phenomenology, but the critique of phenomenology is used as the occasion for a much broader critique of epistemology. Adorno described this as a ‘metacritique’ which blends together the analysis of Husserl’s phenomenology as the most advanced instance of the decay of bourgeois idealism with an immanent critique of the tensions and contradictions internal to Husserl’s thought. The result is a powerful text which remains one of the most devastating critiques of Husserl’s work ever written and which heralded many of the ideas that have become commonplace in contemporary philosophy.
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Preface 1

Introduction 3

Procedure and Object Immanent Critique

Mediating the First Mathematicizaton

Concept of Method Promoting the Subject

Persistence as Truth The Elementary

The Regressive

Philosophy of Origins and Epistemology

System and Debit Opposing Forces in Epistemology

The Drive for System Doctrine of Antinomies

Nominalism Motivation and Tendency of Ontology

Illusory Concretization and Formalism

New and Old

1 Critique of Logical Absolutism 41

Philosophy, Metaphysics and Science

Contradiction in Scientificization

Concept of Intuition Husserl’s Scientism

Dialectic in Spite of Itself A Head-Start for Science

‘Realism’ in Logic The Logical In-Itself

Presupposition of Logical Absolutism

Essence and Development (Entfaltung)

Calculators, Logic and Mechanics

Reification of Logic The Logical 'Object'

Autosemantic and Synsemantic Expressions

Logical Laws and Laws of Thought

Aporia of Logical Absolutism

Relating Genesis and Validity Genesis and Psychology

Thinking and Psychologism

The Law of Non-Contradiction The Law of Identity

Contingency Abandoning the Empirical

Phenomenological and Eidetic Motifs

2 Species and Intention 89

Propositions in Themselves and Essences

Lived Experience (Erlebnis) and 'Sense'

Critique of Singular 'Senses'

Origin of Essential Insight (Wesensschau)

'Ideational Abstraction' Abstraction and ()

The Primacy of Meaning Analysis (Bedeutungsanalyse)

The Function of the Noema Noema and ()

Relation Between the Two Reductions Noema as Hybrid

Essence and 'Factual States of Consciousness'

Antinomy of Subjectivism and Eidetics

'Eidetic Variations' Essence as Fiction

3 Epistemological Concepts in Dialectic 124

Phenomenology as Epistemology

Positivism and Platonism Husserl's Concept of

Givenness 'Foundation' (Fundierung)

Ontologization of the Factical

Thing as Model of the Given

Givenness Mediated in Itself The Subject of Givenness

Paradoxia of Pure Intuition

Matter as Fulfilment Sensation and Perception

Antinomy of the Doctrine of Perception

Sensation and Materialism

Epistemology as Elementary Analysis 'Gestalt'

Intentionality and Constitution Enter Noesis and Noema

The Forgotten Synthesis Critique of Correlation Theory

Pure Identity and Noematic Core

The Primacy of Objectifying Acts

Thing as Clue (Leitfaden) Antinomy of the Noema

Critique Dismissed

Antagonism to System

Husserl's Transition to Transcendental Idealism

Fragility of the System

4 Essence and Pure Ego 186

Husserl and his Successors Phenomenology

Attempts to Break Out Self-Revocation

Character of Immanence and the Fetishism of the Concept

'Attitude' (Einstellung) Fantasy and Body

Categorial Intuition The Paradoxical Apex

The Provenance of Logical Absolutism

Fulfilment of Unsensed Moments

'Becoming Aware' (Gewahrwerdung)

Motivation of Objectivism

Withering Away of Argument

Phenomenology as Philosophy of Reflection

The System in Ruins

Advanced and Restorative Elements

Natural History Museum Abstract Ideal of Security

Infinitization of the Temporal Origin of the Ego

Consciousness, Pure Essence, Time

Transcendental Ego and Facticity Equivocation of 'I'

Solipsism The Aporia of Transcendental Experience

The End of Idealism

Translator's Note 235

Bibliographical Note 239

German-English Lexicon 242

Index 245

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Theodor W. Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher and musicologist, and a leading member of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory.
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  • This is a re-issue of a classic book by one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century.
  • While written as a critique of Husserl’s phenomenology, this book is at the same time a much broader critique of philosophy and epistemology.
  • Here Adorno outlines many of the ideas that have since become central to modern philosophy, such as the critique of foundationalism, the illusions of idealism and the end of epistemology.
  • Polity is Adorno’s primary publisher in English and the re-issue of this important book is a significant addition to the corpus of Adorno’s work in English.
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"Philosopher, social theorist, musicologist and critic, Adorno is now accepted as one of our century's most brilliant radical thinkers."—Michael Rosen, University of Oxford

"Against all odds, Adorno has emerged at the dawn of the twentyÐfirst century as arguably the leading theoretical inspiration of our time."—Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley
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