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Review of Adorno, by Brian O’Connor

Brian O’Connor, Adorno, Routledge, 2013, 219pp., $29.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780415367363.

Hegel, a writer of brilliant introductions, knew that they posed peculiar difficulties. Some of these were due to the absolute pretensions of systematic philosophy, but not all. Introductions, like beginnings, as the German saying goes, are difficult. A good book may not be a good introduction. Anyone who has read Gillian Rose’s brilliant The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno (or, for that matter, Adorno’s own Introduction to the Sociology of Music) will know this.

Introductions such as Brian O’Connor’s Adorno (the latest in The Routledge Philosophers series) are a genre in their own right with their proper demands. One task is to initiate non-expert readers into the world of Adorno, and to make it accessible to the non-specialist without oversimplifying. Another is to give readers an overview of Adorno’s entire work situating each aspect of it in relation to the others. O’Connor meets these demands deftly.

Writing an introduction to a thinker such as Adorno, whose writing is dense and difficult, and whose thought is set out unsystematically and diffused across a number of different texts that do not form a whole, is challenging in particular ways. Just consider the range of subjects his writing embraces: music, philosophy, sociology, literature, psychoanalysis, German politics and society. Though not the grandest polymath of his era, Adorno is nonetheless one of several European public intellectuals of the 20th Century with wide cultural horizons.

Read the full review at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Habermas and Rawls: Disputing the Political

Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy
Introduction: The Habermas Rawls Dispute—
Analysis and Reevaluation 1
The Habermas–Rawls Dispute

1 Reconciliation through the Public Use of Reason:
Remarks on John Rawls’s Political Liberalism 25
2 Reply to Habermas 46
3 “Reasonable” versus “True,” or the Morality of Worldviews 92

Habermas: A Very Short Introduction


by James Gordon Finlayson

Oxford University Press

This book gives a clear and readable overview of the philosophical work of Jürgen Habermas, the most influential German philosopher alive today, who has commented widely on subjects such as Marxism, the importance and effectiveness of communication, the reunification of Germany, and the European Union. Gordon Finlayson provides readers with a clear and readable overview of Habermas’s forbiddingly complex philosophy using concrete examples and accessible language. He then goes on to analyse both the theoretical underpinnings of Habermas’s social theory, and its more concrete applications in the fields of ethics, politics, and law; and concludes with an examination how Habermas’s social and political theory informs his writing on contemporary, political, and social problems.

Read this Review from by Derek Law (Tokyo, Japan) Read more