Friday, July 9, 2021

Minima Moralia by Theodor Adorno - Summary

Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life is a critical theory text written by the German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno while he was in exile in the United States . Started writing in 1944 , during the Second World War , it was completed in 1949 . Composed of 153 aphorisms and small essays concerning the human condition under capitalism and fascism, Adorno illustrates and gathers thoughts on the trends in the families and societies of the twentieth century, starting from everyday experiences and behaviors, whose changes it identifies in a relationship of relationship and connection with the most disastrous events of the twentieth century . Adorno acknowledges that he identifies the roots in his "damaged life", that of one of the many intellectuals forced into exile by Nazism , who "are mutilated without exception". Originally, Minima Moralia was written for the 50th birthday of her friend and collaborator Max Horkheimer , co-author with Adorno of the book Dialectic of the Enlightenment .

The title of the book derives from the Great Ethics ( Magna Moralia in Latin), a work traditionally attributed to Aristotle , although today the criticism converges in assigning it to an anonymous author. In the dedication Adorno writes that the "dismal science" (a pun again, this time referring to The Gay Science of Nietzsche ) of which is the book is "the teaching of the good life", a central theme in the Greek and Jewish roots of Western philosophy. Today, Adorno argues, an honest life is no longer possible, because we live in an inhuman society. "Life does not live", declares the epigram that opens the book.aphorisms and, starting from everyday experiences, he arrives at disturbing insights into the general tendencies of late industrial society . The topics considered are the subversive nature of toys, the desolation of the family, the decline of conversation, the spread of occultism and the history of touch.

The book recognizes its roots in the "hurt life" of the author, one of the intellectuals forced into exile by the Nazi regime . But as one of the aphorisms goes, "The splinter in the eye is the best magnifying glass." Like the shards of the shattered mirror of philosophy, the fragments of the book seek to illuminate the clues of humanity's descent into inhumanity. Minima moralia affirms that the Judeo-Christian-Enlightenment vision of redemption is the only valid point of view from which one can face a deeply tormented world. By bringing the "messianic light" of criticism onto a terrain of complete negativity, Adorno seeks to "negatively project an image of utopia".