by Theodor W. Adorno

A dialectical theory is bound—like Marx’s, largely—to be immanent even if in the end it negates the whole sphere it moves in. This contrasts it with a sociology of knowledge that has been merely brought up from outside and is powerless against philosophy, as philosophy was quick to discover. A sociology of knowledge fails before philosophy: for the truth content of philosophy it substitutes its social function and its conditioning by interests, while refraining from a critique of that content itself, remaining indifferent toward it. It fails equally before the concept of ideology, which it will stir into its broad beggarly broth; for the concept of ideology makes sense only in relation to the truth or untruth of what it refers to. There can be no talk of socially necessary delusions except in regard to what would not be a delusion—although, of course, delusion is its index.

SOURCE: Adorno, Theodor W. Negative Dialectics, translated by E.B. Ashton (New York: The Seabury Press, 1973), p. 197 (extract from section of this title).

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Ideology Study Guide

Theodor W. Adorno Study Guide

The Frankfurt School: Philosophy in Relation to Social Theory, Cultural Theory, Science, and Interdisciplinary Research.
Phase 1: Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse in the 1930s.
Study Group Syllabus

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