Critical theory vs philosophical anthropology on radio and TV: some remarks on Adorno and Gehlen

Stefano Marino


The relation between critical theory of society and philosophical anthropology is a very interesting and exciting but also problematic one. On the one hand, since Hork- heimer’s seminal essay Remarks on Philosophical Anthropology critical theorists have always expressed a clear distaste for anthropological speculation. On the other hand, notwithstanding Adorno’s aim in Negative Dialectics to “vetoe any anthropol- ogy” and criticize “the question of man [as] ideological”, he frequently mentioned the project of a “negative anthropology” or “dialectical anthropology” as an important one. In this context, it is especially noteworthy that Adorno developed a significant philosophical and also human relation during the 1960s with Arnold Gehlen, one of the founders of 20th-century philosophical anthropology. In my contribution I will fo- cus on some aspects of the Adorno/Gehlen relation, mostly approaching this topic at a historical-philosophical level rather than at a strictly theoretical level, and offering some remarks on certain affinities between their aesthetic theories and also on cer- tain philosophical elements that emerge in a powerful and significant way from the public debates between Adorno and Gehlen that took place in the 1960s on radio and TV.


Aesthetics; Arnold Gehlen; Theodor W. Adorno

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