Theodor W. Adorno, The Jargon of Authenticity, Evanston, Northwest ern University Press, Although Adorno continually misrepresents Husserl, the thesis. This devastating polemical critique of the existentialist philosophy of Martin Heidegger is a monumental study in Adorno’s effort to apply qualitative analysis to. Dave Harris: Brief notes on: Adorno, T – W () [] The Jargon of Authenticity, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. It goes without saying that this text will.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Jargon of Authenticity authsnticity Theodor W. Theodor Adorno was no stranger to controversy.

In ‘The Jargon of Authenticity’ he gives full expression to his hostility to the language employed by certain existentialist thinkers such as Martin Heidegger. Paperbackpages. Published January 22nd by Routledge first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Jargon of Authenticityplease sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Jargon of Authenticity. Lists with This Book.

Jan 20, Barnaby Thieme rated it it was amazing Shelves: I have a special affection for this book, which cogently diagnoses a phenomenon with which I am all-too-familiar, living as I do in Northern California.

Adorno criticizes “jargon,” a misuse of language peculiar to the German Existentialists. Jargon is the use of rarefied terminology for the putative purpose of introducing new distinctions into language.

It involves using common terms in unusual ways or the abundant creation of neologisms. The use of jargon is closely tied to the concept of authe I have a special affection for this book, which cogently diagnoses a phenomenon with which I am all-too-familiar, living as I do in Northern California.

The use of jargon is closely tied to the concept of authenticity, crucial to the Existentialists since Heidegger.

The Jargon of Authenticity

Ahthenticity tone of moral approval should not be missed. Ever an austere critic with an eye for bad faith, Adorno problematizes the concept of authenticity by calling into question how one adjudicates between the authentic and jargoh inauthentic.

All too often, Adorno suggests, authetnicity is deemed “authentic” if it displays the surface tropes of authenticity that are accepted by a small subculture which regards itself as existing in a privileged position to make moral judgments. The work of thinking through authenticity is rare, but the process of judging in terms of the category of authenticity is all too common.

Such judgments frequently signify little more than a self-aggrandizing belief in autgenticity privileged insight or perspective. The true function of authenticity’s jargon is not to introduce meaningful distinctions, but to broadcast one’s allegiance to a privileged, closed group by using its special terms – a group that can be trusted to make judgments in matters of human importance.

The ubiquitous showiness of jargon and the vacuous quality of its distinctions are ample testimony to this self-evident function. The irony of the situation – that the way people use the jargon of authenticity is precisely opposed to its professed values – is not lost on Adorno.

Jargon is a facile, shallow, jargob way of thinking and communicating that frequently shows one to be more concerned with status than actual insight.

A true language of authenticity seeks first jarfon foremost to communicate. Existentialism’s jargon has persisted in California culture far authengicity than its ideas.

I see the lineage as this: German Existentialism permeates Gestalt psychology, and passes from there into the Human Potential movement through EST and countless Esalen workshops, and now through Landmark and similar organizations.


Jargon is part of the air we breath in San Francisco, and I was amazed to find this obscure book, written decades ago, that diagnosed the phenomenon with such precision.

In this book, Adorno, who sometimes flirts with jargon of his own or at the very least uses cluttered language, relentlessly attacks and eviscerates the thought of existentialists.

From the very first sentence with its use of the cloying term “gathering” “In the early twenties a number of people active in philosophy, sociology, and theology planned a gathering “Adorno hones in on Heidegger as the primary perpetrator. And from that very first sentence, the acid and bile flows freely and biting In this book, Adorno, auhhenticity sometimes flirts with jargon of his own or at the very least uses cluttered language, relentlessly attacks and eviscerates the thought of existentialists.

And from that very first autehnticity, the acid and bile flows freely and bitingly to the end, often highlighting the empty rhetoric used by Heidegger to puff up “Being” into a whole lot of nothing. Heidegger might counter that that is precisely what he is saying: For Adorno, this is the height of sophistry, which is intelligence made brutal. Heidegger and other existentialists might champion the simplicity and poetry of people close to the soil such jargom farmers, uargon this comes with a heavy authenticcity brutal hand.

In the end, Adorno’s critique boils down to this: Heidegger and those who followed him sought to overcome the ‘idle chatter’ and stupidity of the ‘elite masses’ which Heidegger termed “the They” in Being and Timebut the attempt to do so only ended up with producing another version of ‘idle chatter’: And the implied second part of the critique: Highly recommended for people intrigued by Heidegger, but also suspicious of him.

Apr 08, Scribe rated it liked it. Not really sure how to rate this one, so going down the middle. That said, the critique was pretty fascinating in places, especially around the beginning e. It seems like these key points are still more Not really sure how to rate this one, so going down the middle. It seems like these key points are still more relevant today as we continue to struggle with a more mediated, structured society ajrgon bound by fairly modern-industrial paradigms.

Adorno Jargon of Authenticity

But I drifted off in the middle – the book felt more like a ranting blogpost by a very clever, but very grumpy old man at times. Short enough to put up with, but a little too convoluted and negative to really hold my interest. Give this one a go if you’re into this kind of thing, I think: May 27, Adam rated it it was amazing. The paragon of polemic. Adorno directs his inimitable prose and prowess toward his lifelong bete noir, and the result is philosophy written in fire.

I can’t score this properly without reading more German philosophy. Those who love him embrace him with a messianic fervour that excuses otherwise aberrant behaviour like anti-Semitism and Fascism in the quest to salvage something of his philosophy ostensibly of care. Of those who hate him, I can’t think of anybody more concerted than Theodor Adorno.

Karl Jaspers also features. However, it quickly becomes authenticihy that Heidegger is the ringleader around whom the others revolve, and Adorno becomes more and more hostile towards him as the book progresses.

Thus, it’s concerned with both what Heidegger has to say and how he says it: The story sometimes autheticity like a myth, so it’s difficult to tell whether it’s true or not. However, it describes a dynamic of Heidegger’s strategy that is consistent with some of my own personal observations, so I’ll give it some credence, at least on a metaphorical level. Publish or Perish “Being and Time” originated in a desire to publish a philosophical work, so that Heidegger could obtain an academic position.


Jargon of Authenticity

Hence its ambition and the exaggeration of its claims, and the fact that, having won his position, he never returned to finish the schema of the greater work. The tone of the work is that there was once an ancient understanding of “Being”, which has since been forgotten.

Heidegger’s role is to reconstruct a remembrance of being and beings past. Thus, his strategy is to place himself in the role of an oracle or a medium between the truth and us. To the extent that he speaks on behalf of the truth, he speaks on behalf of God. Thus, he assumes the hubris of religion to elevate his own authority and credibility.

The word of the preacher is presented “as if his and God’s were one without question”. I’ve always wondered whether Heidegger was more in the business of hermeneutics than actual philosophy. He was trying to find lost meaning, i. He was reading the same words that others before him had read, only his interpretation differed.

Putting Themselves in the Right Adorno makes the same point: Religion tends to the absolute. The authentics were “anti-intellectuals” who embraced a hodge podge of religious and philosophical ideas. His book acquired its aura by describing the directions of the dark drives of the intelligentsia before – directions he described as full of insight, and which he revealed to be solidly coercive. Of course in Heidegger, as in all those who followed his language, a diminished theological resonance can be heard to this very day.

The theological addictions of these years have seeped into the language, far beyond the circle of those who at that time set themselves as the elite.

Sacred Language Adorno describes the language of authenticity as “sacred”: Prior to any consideration of content, this language moulds thought. As a consequence, that thought accommodates itself to the goal of subordination even where it aspires to resist that goal.

The authority of the absolute is overthrown by absolutised authority. Language provides it with a refuge.

The Jargon of Authenticity – Theodor W. Adorno – Google Books

Within this refuge a smoldering evil expresses itself as though it were salvation. He uses a combination of noble and banal words, “holds them high and bronzes them in the fascist manner which wisely mixes plebeian with elitist elements: The empirical usability of the sacred ceremonial words makes both the speaker and listener believe in their corporeal presence.

His embrace of Fascism like his embrace of the religious Authentics was a calculated part of a strategy for self-advancement. While he appealed to revelation, he was also chronically addicted to authority: The formula spares people the trouble of thinking about the metaphysics which it has dragged with it, or about the content of what has been stated.

Theology is tied to the determinations of immanence, which in turn want to claim a larger meaning, by means of their suggestion of theology. The jargon both adorn the speaker with and separates the speaker from the crowd: Self-righteous jarvon, in the midst of a general inhumanity, only intensifies the inhuman state of affairs.

This is a state of affairs which necessarily remains hidden to those who suffer here and now.