Taking on the Stigma of Inauthenticity: Adorno's Critique of Genuineness

Martin Jay

in Language Without Soil

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780823231263
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235360 | DOI:
Taking on the Stigma of             Inauthenticity: Adorno's Critique of Genuineness

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This chapter explicates Theodor W. Adorno's dialectical engagement with inauthenticity and genuineness, two of the central tropes of his mature philosophy. The chapter discusses the extent to which Adorno's critique of genuineness in Minima Moralia and elsewhere was itself deeply indebted to Walter Benjamin's defense of mechanical reproduction against the aura and his notion of the mimetic faculty. It quickly becomes apparent that many of his “own” ideas betray precisely the kind of inauthenticity that he defended against the jargon. Or if one wants to rely on his critical use of the term, it shows the non-auratic authenticity of the intellectual who knows himself not to be in full possession of his own ideas. Paradoxically, in his very lack of originality, his reworking without entirely duplicating many of his friend's most arresting ideas, Adorno took upon himself the stigma he urged everyone to embrace.

Keywords: Theodor W. Adorno; inauthenticity; genuineness; philosophy; Walter Benjamin

Chapter.  5764 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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