From phenomenology to critical theory : the genesis of Adorno's critical theory from his reading of Husserl

16 August 2007

This article investigates the importance of the evolution of Adorno's interpretation of Husserl for the formation of his own philosophy. The weakness of Husserl's notion of immediate data is revealed within the light of Hans Cornelius' Transcendentale Systematik. When Adorno discovers in his Habilitationsschrift the importance of the social setting and ideological function of theory, he departs from Cornelius' transcendentalism as norm for his reflection - and this insight is deployed against Husserl. Henceforth, Husserl's philosophy is interpreted as idealist, as a prima philosophia, as a philosophy of identity and totality and ultimately in service of the totalitarian political tendencies.