Through a Glass Darkly: Adorno’s Inverse Theology

Deborah Cook


Calling his critique of damaged life an inverse theology in a letter to Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno uses determinate negation to foreshadow a world where religion will no longer be needed as consolation when he negates the negative conditions that have given rise to religion. Determinate negation provides Adorno with the normative basis for his social critical because it enables him to envisage, albeit only obliquely, an improved state of affairs against which existing conditions may be judged. To paraphrase Marx, critique--in the form of determinate negation offers a glimpse of earthly conditions that promise earthly happiness. 


Theodor W. Adorno, negation, determination negation, inverse theology

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