The 'Last Philosophy' Enquiring into the 'First': The Influence of Classical Thought on Theodor W. Adorno

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Adorno discerned a modern quality in the classical tradition, and by incorporating this tradition into his writings he implied that there is still contemporary relevance in the classical works of the past. Classical philosophy and literature not only provided source material for his theories, but it will be shown that there is more to learn about the multiple functions of Adorno's writings and his process of writing them. This study seeks to examine and interpret some of Adorno's major writings that incorporated classical ideas and figures in order to locate how this ancient tradition contributed to his formulation of critical social and political theory. There are interesting and relevant implications for politics and political philosophy to be drawn from the entwinement of Adorno's work with classical thought, and it is the goal of this study to illuminate some of these implications. By looking at how classical thought influenced Adorno's deliberative writing process, the purpose of his writings becomes clearer. Ultimately, this study finds that his frequent use of classical literature and philosophy forms a political gesture against the standardization and domination of thought in modernity.

Adorno, Odyssey, Ovid, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle