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Metaphysics Concept and Problems von Adorno, Theodor W. (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 10.12.2014
  • Verlag: Polity
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Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969), was a prominent member of the Frankfurt School, and one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century in the areas of social theory, philosophy, literary criticism and aesthetics.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Seitenzahl: 224
    Erscheinungsdatum: 10.12.2014
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9780745694382
    Verlag: Polity
    Größe: 1462 kBytes
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25 May 1965

I closed my last lecture by putting forward the thesis that, in a precise sense, metaphysics began with Aristotle. This is a rather shocking thesis, although the shock will be somewhat less severe if one reflects that Greek speculation has a long prehistory in which it largely emancipated itself from hylozoism, with its rather crude reflections on nature; here I shall mention only the names of Heraclitus, Parmenides and above all, of course, Plato. If I now attempt to substantiate this thesis somewhat further, it is not in order to indulge in witty paradoxes, but because I believe it will enable me to say something not unimportant about the concept of metaphysics itself. You will recall the definitions of metaphysics I gave earlier; they were not really definitions in the strict sense, but a series of thematic indications and propositions intended to show you roughly what the concerns of metaphysics are. Among these indications the question of true being, of the One, the essential, played a major part. The Platonic doctrine of Ideas does indeed have to do with these concepts, and I assume you are all more or less familiar with it. The Ideas - that is, hypostatized universal concepts, as they are commonly called - are regarded by Plato, in contrast to scattered multiplicity, as the true, the One, the essential and, above all, as the cause of all appearances. This definition - really a definition of metaphysics itself, which deals with the causes of all things - was taken over in Aristotle's Metaphysics and elevated to the definition of metaphysical questions. 1 According to Plato, only the forms of things have true and original being; and these forms - this is the subject of the famous dispute he had with Antisthenes 2 - are not merely the abstract attributes of diverse individual things. They are themselves, both logically and genetically, what is primary in individual things. For this reason they are called or , as that which has being in itself and is open to 'seeing', as is implied in the parable of the cave. 3 Both words - , essence, and , our word for idea - contain the stem , which relates to the visual, the optical, to seeing. To this extent, therefore, in terms of his themes, Plato could be regarded as the archmetaphysician, the metaphysician per se , and perhaps he may indeed be counted as such. But in Plato - and this is the crucial point, which brings us a good deal closer to the meaning of the term metaphysics - the world of the senses is described as that which is absolutely without being, although he was no more able than the Eleatics before him to sustain this position rigorously. For him, the world of appearances really does not exist in any strong sense. And it can be said - if you will allow me to put it rather drastically, just to point out the main landmarks in this discussion - that Plato's philosophy is a synthesis of Eleatism - especially Parmenides - and Heraclitus. From Parmenides he took the doctrine of being as the One, the absolutely indivisible and imperishable, and from Heraclitus the doctrine of the absolute transitoriness of appearance, which exists in a state of constant flux and, moreover, is deceptive and unreliable, as is shown above all in Plato's relatively late dialogue Theaetetus. His fundamental attitude, which has had a profound and lasting influence on later western philosophy and constantly re-emerges in different forms, lies in the emphasis on deception, on the illusoriness of sense data. Even in a philosopher as nominalist as John Locke, this thesis recurs in the distinction between the primary qualities which are attributes of things in themselves, and the merely subjective, secondary qualities. 4

No word is needed - although in the history of philosophy many have been used - to make one aware that this drastic separation of the idea from the world

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