The memory and expectation of aesthetics: a study of Adorno's aesthetic theory.

McPherson, Alan (2009) The memory and expectation of aesthetics: a study of Adorno's aesthetic theory. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This study aims to clarify the underlying conceptual structure of Adorno’s theoretical position with regard to both philosophy and art and to examine the expectation of philosophical aesthetics. I introduce Aesthetic Theory from a morphological point of view and claim that the form and structure of this unfinished text reveals a great deal about the book, as it exemplifies Adorno’s theory of meaning. I claim that for Adorno dialectic is better thought of not in its Hegelian form but as a Kantian antinomy. This is because the dialectical oppositions he identifies cannot be resolved under the capitalist conditions of the administered world. I claim that philosophy understood as the construction of a form of totality, the constellation, provides the key to understanding Adorno’s theory of meaning. This theory consists of three linked concepts: midpoint, constellation and
parataxis. I further claim that for Adorno art and philosophy are structured in the same way. Adorno has in effect developed a conception of art that depends for its ultimate justification on the concept of rank as explicated by the completion of the work of art by philosophy. Art and theory are thus entwined in a mimetic relationship. I claim there is a temporal dichotomy at the centre of Adorno’s conception of the work of art, that it is both transient and absolute. This antinomy is what makes the work of art a paradoxically absolute commodity precisely because Adorno’s concept of the work of art is modelled on the commodity form. I claim that Adorno’s conception of the artwork as an instant is clearly closely related, in a structural and conceptual sense, to his conception of how philosophy works. Truth for Adorno is always located in the present instant. My textual analysis leads me to claim that for Adorno a utopian element is involved in writing a negative dialectical text. Finally, I claim that a theory of the art form in all its different typologies is best suited to carry out detailed critique and theoretical reflection on contemporary art. Philosophical aesthetics can only supply an historical perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
B. > Theses
Item ID: 6506
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2010 09:55
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 18:11

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