Adorno (against Heidegger) on Style and Literary Form in Philosophy


In this article, moving from the basic assumption that perhaps few thinkers in the twentieth century prioritized the question of philosophy and literary form the way Adorno did (§ 1), I first provide a reconstruction of his commitment with the question concerning the role of style in philosophy, focusing on some of the various presentation forms Adorno experimented and used in his works: essay, aphorism, parataxis (§ 2). Then I introduce a short excursus on another important 20th-century thinker who also prioritized the question of philosophy and literary form, mostly in connection to the relationship between the language of poetry and the language of philosophy: Martin Heidegger (§ 3). At the same time, Heidegger was the target of Adorno’s strong criticism, so I use his ontological conception of philosophy and/as poetry as a way to let fully emerge by comparison, e contrario, the specificity of Adorno’s anti-ontological, negative-dialectical conception of the role and significance of style in philosophizing (§ 4).

Keywords: Theodor W. Adorno, Martin Heidegger, Aesthetics, Style, Philosophy and Literature

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