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Three Selections from Theodor Adorno's "Opinion Delusion Society"

  Directing the gaze inward, the voice with rhythm and melody: Adorno, photographed in 1960. (Photo: Ullstein)

 

Directing the gaze inward, the voice with rhythm and melody: Adorno, photographed in 1960. (Photo: Ullstein)


“Not only is the assumption that the normal is true and the deviant is false itself extremely dubious but so is the very glorification of mere opinion, namely, of the prevailing one that cannot conceive of the true as being anything other than what everyone thinks.”


“But the risk of exposure in a radioactively contaminated world has grown so great that the anxiety is belatedly honored by the same faculty of reason that eschews its psychotic character.  The objective world is approaching the image persecution mania renders of it.  The concept of persecution mania and pathological opinion as a whole are not spared the same tendency.  Anyone who nowadays hopes to comprehend the pathogenic element of reality with the traditional categories of human understanding falls into the same irrationality he imagines himself to be protected from by his loyal adherence to healthy common sense.”


“Societalization constitutes within thought this element of opinion thought must reflect about, whose limitedness it must explode.  Everything within thought that repeats a position without reflecting upon it, like those who from the very beginning share an author’s opinion, is bad.  In this attitude thought is brought to a standstill, degraded into the mere recital of what is accepted, and becomes untrue.  For the thought expresses something it has not permeated yet as though it had reached its own conclusion.  There is not thought in which the remnants of opinion do not inhere.  They are at once both necessary and extrinsic to it.  It is the nature of thought to remain loyal to itself by negating itself in these moments.  That is the critical form of thought. Critical thought alone, not thought’s complacent agreement with itself, may help bring about change.”


Join us for a roundtable discussion on Thursday, September 21, 2017, 7:00 p.m., at Mother Foucault's Bookshop, 523 SE Morrison Street, Portland, Oregon 97214.