AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Experiential embodiment and human immediacy: Adorno’s negative affinity

by Mark Walker

Institution: University of Greenwich
Year: 2008
Keywords: B Philosophy (General); NX Arts in general
Record ID: 1395269
Full text PDF: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/8213/


This thesis argues for the continuing possibility of Adorno set against the backdrop of a post-modern proliferation of affects. A major theoretical contention is the concept of the subject: a sticking point within philosophy. The thesis takes this up and offers a new pathway without falling into the cliché of a renewal of Adorno’s position. Drawing on Adorno’s theoretical thoughts on the subject the thesis contends that the subject is that which by turns dissolves all eventualities or more proportionally acts like a place-holder for the newly emerging: structures that cannot be explained by recourse to the laws that govern its parts. These experiential structures present a surface, resistance, or solidarity that upon closer examination dissolve back into the ephemeral. Although such structures are profligate and prolific, the thesis adopts as its major concern artworks and aesthetics. Following Adorno, a claim is made for artworks that present open-ended possibilities. They are able for example to critically challenge the dominant hegemony the profundity that all too easily sides with the oppressors of life. What philosophy, a critical tool in furtherance of the good life, a concept restaged, here takes from art is not a sense of equivalence, art and philosophy are held apart in a creative and critical tension, but the sense of yearning that animates the nonconceptual side of art which the concept negates. The yearning, being experiential, is always embodied. Its fulfilment negates the immediacies, the mere appearance of life, particularly in its systematically reflexive form. The conclusion concurs with Adorno in the thought that affinity with the object is achieved not as the resultant of identity thinking, but through the act of definite negation of identifying schema.