As Donald Trump and his minions and supporters continue to assault—daily and explicitly—the notion of truth, whether in its theoretical or practical employments, Owen Hulatt’s book, Adorno’s Theory of Philosophical and Aesthetic Truth, becomes more relevant than ever. Since I have written about the book elsewhere,1 I will keep my introductory remarks here incredibly short and just allow the participants and Hulatt to speak. To begin, here’s a quick summary of the book. Through a novel reading of Dialectic of Enlightenment, Hulatt suggests that rationality develops from human self-preservation (27), but that through the course of history, human conceptuality becomes deformed, leading to a form of life that is deformed in its organization and in how it produces subjects (chapter 2). The remainder of the book offers interesting and powerful meditations on how philosophy and art might overcome such a state of affairs. The only other point I want to note is Hulatt’s ambitious attempt to offer a unified account of aesthetics and epistemology in the thought of Theodor W. Adorno. This strikes me as both true to Adorno’s intentions, and equally importantly, as offering renewed life and urgency to both art and epistemology, showing how one craves and needs the other as much as itself, and that the possibilities and fortunes of each are multiplied when presented in this way. For this reason, and for the fact that Hulatt places Adorno in conversation with a range of contemporary philosophy, both Anglophone and European, I think that his book is timely and important and will bear a rich discussion. The contributions that follow each probe some of the largest issues in Adorno scholarship, revolving around Adorno’s relationship to epistemology, his understanding of art and of mimesis, his ethical ambitions and claims, and his concept of the non-identical and its relationship to critique and thereby to politics. These are all also topics that should appeal to a range of philosophers and critical and political theorists.
See my review of the book in the latest issues of the Journal of the History of Philosophy 55:4 (2017) 743–44.↩