Dialectic of Enlightenment
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Dialectic of Enlightenment

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  2,933 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Dialectic of Enlightenment is undoubtedly the most influential publication of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. Written during the Second World War and circulated privately, it appeared in a printed edition in Amsterdam in 1947. "What we had set out to do," the authors write in the Preface, "was nothing less than to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published January 1st 1969 by Continuum (first published 1944)
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Adam
Here we have it, folks: the worst book ever written. Well, the worst I've read. But it just has got to be up there with the worst I haven't read.

I would give proper reasons for that pronouncement, but I shouldn't like to be regarded as a fascist.

I don't know whether or not to give points for creativity; Adorno and Horkheimer manage to provide some of the most astonishingly ridiculous readings and ideas I've ever encountered, and indeed some of the funniest, as a result. The book would be hilar...more
Alex
In a world... where the geist is pure evil... and the Fasshou System lurks right around the corner... two unlikely German Jew friends dare... to frighten enlightenment/mythology back into its box.

This summer....

DIALECTIC

OF

ENLIGHTENMENT
Karl Steel
Apr 04, 2009 Karl Steel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People able to endure an annoying prophetic, circular kind of prose
Shelves: theory
Three things I love here, above all else: a) the collaboration, and the refusal to disentangle themselves from it when others demanded that Horkorno coalesce into two identities: of course reminds me of Deleuze and Guattari, but, for a medievalist, also Marty Shichtman and Laurie Finke; b) the refusal to update the text to reflect the current moment: in this insistence on preserving the text as an intervention into a particular historical moment, Adorneimer refuse to pretend to speak from a posi...more
Drenda
The Enlightenment sought to bring mankind out of the shadows of orthodox tradition and religion and into the light of reason. A step toward human freedom, right? Perhaps, no doubt in some ways. But relying on reason skewed basic civility based in tradition and replaced human and humane interaction with calculated management. It could lead to places that the Encyclopedists could never have imagined. It could lead to concentration camps.

So what's a person to do. Adorno is not known for optimistic...more
Ryan
The enlightenment wasn't all that. You think science replaced magic and religion? Not so fast. Isn't science, at a certain point, based on faith just as much as religion? Horkdorno (Horkheimer and Adorno) views the achievements of the enlightenment with a gimlet eye, refusing to accept that a forward movement in history equates to positive progress. You can just as easily move forward while descending. If you believe in progress, concomitantly, you must believe in decline. Many of the things th...more
Szplug
This translation, by John Cumming, is tough sledding - the textual equivalent of chopping onions, reducing the pungent-yet-aesthetically-Kremlinesque whole bulb into little blocky niblets that scatter and stick to the cutting board whilst still making your eyes water. Edmund Jephcott did such a lovely job with Walter Benjamin's Reflections and Adorno's Minima Moralia that I have little doubt his more recent rendering of DOE into English would be well worth spending the extra bucks.
Tomas
I think this is a very important and underrated book in the contemporary hightech world. On a more vivid way than Adorno and Horkheimer usually write, they explain how the "Enlightenment" can turn against humans in an oppressive manner. Especially the part about the culture industry is still very useful to think about our relationship with art. The book presents mainly questions about how reductionistic science divides every part of the world into a compulsive structure. This work should be read...more
Rene Stein
Jedna z nejlepších knih o paradoxech osvícenství.
Tzv. (post)levicové myšlení má mj. základ v Adornových úvahách, a když vás neuspokojují Havlovy knížecí ekoagitky, záměrně synkretické a nevyhraněné socialisticko-liberální moralitky zhrzených členů Strany zelených, banální nebo vulgární levicoví komentátoři a různé mišuge existence v Britských listech, sáhněte přímo po nebanálním zdroji všech jejich prosťáckých úvah.

I když levici nemáte rádi, stále platí, že je dobré znát své nepřátele, anebo ale...more
Desy Budi Utami
Welcome to the pessimist world!!! If you like pop culture or even a so-called hard working type of person I warned you to read this carefully! LOL
This book will guide you to the real "enlightenment". Written by dynamic-critical duo Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment aimed to peal out the capitalistic coats in your mind. I read mostly the first chapter and the culture industry.

Divided into two term, the first chapter tells you about the essence of enlightenment. To b...more
Chelsea Szendi
Don't fight it: let the dialectic carry you along, since you have no chance at pinning it down as a power point. And thank goodness.

Television, the Gesamtkunstwerk: "aims at a synthesis of radio and film, delayed only for as long as the interested parties cannot agree. Such a synthesis, with its unlimited possibilities, promises to intensify the impoverishment of the aesthetic material so radically that the identity of all industrial cultural products, still scantily disguised today, will triump...more
Andrew
This, I feel, is a statement superlative to the Minima Moralia in the Adorno catalog. The classist overtones that damage so much of that book are less ingrained here, and we get what I feel to be a much more open philosophy. Whenever I read these old Frankfurt School dudes, there's this weird sense of tragedy, as if they were the last line of defense against the brutal forces of late capitalist alienation. And I've never felt that stronger than in here. That said, this is also the Frankfurt Scho...more
Ian
Dec 12, 2007 Ian rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pam
Shelves: philosophy
I think my favorite part of this essay is where the authors critique Homer's "Odyssey" by arguing that it is the very first historical appearance of the bourgeoisie. Odysseus is the bourgeois man and the men on his ship who stuff the wax in his ears to protect him from the song of the sirens are the proletariat. In they end, they are sacrificed for the salvation of the cunning hero. Silly, but very creative.
Ashley
The most poorly written, ego-maniacal, self-important, masturbatory piece of shit that I have ever read. Horkheimer and Adorno? If you were alive, I would punch you both in the testicles.
Jackson Lipovich
It is a shame to say that this work was, on the whole, inaccessible to me. I was able to follow the thread of thought only on the most superficial levels, and even then, I would not venture to reiterate exactly what I learned in fear of possible misinterpretation. Perhaps it was necessary for the language to reflect the utterly murky nature of the content, with its constant twists and turns and churning and negation and double-negation, and in this, the work receives top marks.

I recognize the i...more
Lysergius
Although somewhat dated, it was first composed in 1944, Dialectic of Enlightenment is undoubtedly the most influential publication of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. "What we had set out to do," the authors write in the Preface, "was nothing less than to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism."

The book goes far beyond a mere critique of contemporary events, the birth of Western history and of subjectivity itself out of the...more
Kevin
A dark book for a dark time. With a nod to Martin Jay, it appears that this classic has been absorbed by the culture industry it famously critiques. The sardonic portrait of modern society retains plenty of bite, although I wonder just how trenchant their ambitious mash-up of reductive theories (Marxist, Freudian, Darwinian) really is. For example, might the nostalgia for individuality mirror existentalism, and rather ironically (pace Adorno in Jargon), in its reliance upon the perceiving subjec...more
Scott
Proof that nothing gets pseudo-intellectuals salivating more quickly than non-sensical rants.
mohamadreza Armandi
تک تک جملات این کتاب در حکم شناخت انسان معاصر از مفهوم انسانیت است.
Nader Osama
One very depressing yet brilliant read.
Abolfazl
مجموعه اي از مقالات فلسفي اعضاي مكتب فرانكفورت.
Bloggerton
Not an easy read, but an amazing one.
Kyle
I really wanted to like Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments...And I really wanted to write up a thoughtful review.

I'll try to keep this pointed and avoid complaining because many of you liked Dialectic of Enlightenment. Nevertheless, after giving myself some time to stew over what I've read, I have absolutely nothing substantial or useful to add. In all honesty I feel a little robbed. I take reading very seriously; it's a very critical and useful activity that I try to take the m...more
GONZA
Letto solo il primo capitolo per il corso sul postmodernismo.
....The unity of collectivity and power now revealed itself in the generality which faulty content necessarily takes on in language,whether metaphysical or scientific. The metaphysical apologia at least betrayed the injustice of the established order through the incongruence of concept and reality. The impartiality of scientific language deprived what was powerless of the strength to make itself heard and merely provided the existing o...more
Mike
This book struck me as very dated. Horkheimer and Adorno's description of a monolithic culture industry, for one, simply no longer holds true today (hi Internet!). Still, the book presents an interesting model of humankind's relationship to nature: from magical cultures that imitated nature, to mythic cultures that signified it, to the Enlightenment mono-culture that systematizes everything, turning every object into a sign for itself. They bring up the problems inherent in signification, and th...more
Katrinka
Who's one of my greatest forms of literary/critical theoretical solace? Theodor Adorno (and let's not forget Max Horkheimer). Minima Moralia is still my favorite of his, but this fine volume is chock full of fantastic discussions. Just a few talking points and/or clever observations:

* On Odysseus' reaction to Penelope's test to see whether the guy she thinks is her husband really is so: "... her husband answers her with a detailed account of his longlasting piece of woodwork. He is the prototypi...more
Joe
Comments:

Critical Theory really was always in danger of giving birth to postmodernism, thanks to its critical and close reading of -and thus being influenced by- Heidegger and Freud. No, Foucault wasn't just wishing (dreaming) when he drew parallels between himself and the Frankfurt School. But this affinity to the likes of Heidegger and Freud came at a price; the pessimism of these two thinkers became inextricably entwined within critical theory itself. Critical Theory is the greatest, but not...more
Станислав
I would call this book the opening chapter to making sense of our post-World-War-II world, Europe's most pessimistic book ever. It raises many questions about the very possibility of progress and civilization. No one's consciousness could remain the same after reading this book. It is not an easy read at all, but it is worth the effort. The style is not strictly formal, the title suggests that those are only frangments, pieces of thought that remained after the total disillusionment with the Enl...more
Tracy
Dialectic of Enlightenment by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (1947); Translated by E. Jephcott (2002) - My initial comment, which I still have not reconsidered even after two souls have hammered and reproached me: Their elitist air confuses. Given that the Culture Industry - this thematic of barbarism, this 'regression of enlightenment to ideology' - swallows us all up anyway, I don't see how their 'snobbishness' (in the form of grand complaints against the mass/totalitarian/reifying formulas...more
Josh
I'm rereading this after first encountering it in college ten years ago. I love Adorno, for all his curmudgeonly elitism, and this text is indispensable for any cultural critic. Granted, much of it is quite dated. The famous chapter "The Culture Industry," not only displays Adorno's prejudices against all forms of pop culture at their worst, it is also painfully obvious that his critique is not easily applied in succeeding revolution of "new media." But perhaps it is. After all, if read alongsid...more
Kristjhan
I guess the take home message of this is the culture industry, which I had already read about in a more succinct and cogent form in Culture Industry Reconsidered (Adorno, 1963). Their discussion of fascist antisemitism seems plausible also. I might return to the other chapters at a later date when a close analysis of them is more necessary for me than it is now.
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Goodreads Librari...: New edition created as individual book 5 160 Sep 17, 2013 05:31PM  
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Max Horkheimer (1895–1973) was a leader of the so-called “Frankfurt School,” a group of philosophers and social scientists associated with the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute of Social Research) in Frankfurt am Main. Horkheimer was the director of the Institute and Professor of Social Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt from 1930–1933, and again from 1949–1958. In between those perio...more
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“As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than did the rulers themselves, the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done to them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities.” 10 likes
“Pleasure always means not to think about anything, to forget suffering even where it is shown. Basically it is helplessness. It is flight; not, as is asserted, flight from a wretched reality, but from the last remaining thought of resistance.” 4 likes
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