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Jargon, Bullshit, sinnlos

Über den Modus von Theodor W. Adornos Jargonkritik (nebst einigen Bemerkungen zur Sprachkritik der Analytischen Philosophie)

  • Max Beck


Theodor W. Adorno’s Jargon of Authenticity (1964) is one of the bestknown, but also most controversial works of Critical Theory. Many philosophers, writers and editorialists have attacked the text in recent decades and accused Adorno of cultivating his own “jargon”. In his book, Adorno develops a critique of metaphysical and theological language, which he observed in Germany from the 1920s up to the 1960s. In my paper, I argue that the mode of critique Adorno deploys is still relevant today, even if its object has largely disappeared. This becomes clear in comparison to the language criticism of the analytical tradition, namely logical empiricism or Harry G. Frankfurt’s critique of “bullshit,” which are comparably more widespread today in academic debates. While Adorno examines linguistic expressions in terms of their social content and places them in a historical constellation, the critique of “bullshit” following Frankfurt remains constrained to a personal approach. In the language criticism of logical empiricism, on the other hand, the possibility of understanding linguistic phenomena as expressions of social conditions is still present. From this comparison, much can be learned for an up-to-date language criticism.


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Published Online: 2021-09-18
Published in Print: 2021-09-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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