We are looking at the Politics of Knowledge
the problem of IN MEDIAS RES. we are studying the very thing we are. it problematizes
the notion of objectivity.
We are part of the society we are trying to study. This is the problem of reflexivity
in our own knowledge production..
PRECURSORS TO ADORNO'S WORK ON THE CULTURAL INDUSTRY
tied to Marx's critical tradition.
The sociology happening in the early 19th Century had a chain of people thinking about
Marx and tying it to culture, and the economic industry that creates things for us to
First we have to look at the context: what is the critical condition? what is the
development of the frankfurt school? What is being produced and sold? What are the
consequences and counter-arguments: how does Adorno refute his critics? What are the
implications for understanding the phenomenological level of analysis?
we have to rewind all the way to the
historical period from 17th to 18th centuries, characterized by dramatic revolutions
in science, philosophy, society, and politics.
the use of REASON to generate valid knowledge.
IMMANUEL KANT was one of the first to think about what reason is and how we use it.
We can liberate ourselves from authorities! specifically religious authorities.
REALIZING WE CAN THINK OF OURSELVES
no literacy, so the church was authority.
the masses relied on the interpretation of the bible by a priest.
we can make secular knowledge!
epistemological project emerges: how do we generate knowledge? through the senses
(empiricism)? or through our reason (rationalism)?
For LOCKE it was all about experience, tabula rasa.
For KANT we were loaded with pre-loaded subjectivity, a pre-loaded operating system,
and your ability to reason is affected according to your innate natural ability to
understand the world.
there is the human subject, S, who comes pre-loaded with an operating system
we want to observer something in the actual world, the object: O
but what we observe is not necessarily the thing itself, but our own interpretation of
what we observe.
ALL KNOWLEDGE IS GENERATED IN THE SUBJECT: how it is my own subjectivity is
interpreting something in the natural world.
OUR INTELLECT IS SYNTHESIZING..
this is fundamental for the enlightenment This is what reason is thought to be: objects are as it appears to us. this is where
we get the word PHENOMENA, it is the way it appears to the subject.
since we are born wiht that pre-loaded subjectivity, we are already understanding the
world in a human way. we are always synthesizing, and that's where knowledge comes
THIS IS THE FIRST INSTANCE WHERE WE SEE THAT HUMANITY IS ATTEMPTING TO COMBINE THE
UNDERSTANDING OF NATURE (EXTERNAL) BUT ALSO OURSELVES. SO... IS THERE SOME SORT OF WAY
WE CAN PERFECT OUR KNOWLEDGE. PERFECTING OUR KNOWLEDGE MAKES US FREE. FREEDOM IS A
the epistemological project makes us free.
how can we generate knowledge just from the church?
and how do we do it? through the senses? or through reason?
he wants to understand why there is a fundamental contradiction in Kan'ts conclusions
about human subjectivity: is it the object that comes first, or our subjectivity?
Two parts to critique:
find a contradiction,
then, use the intellect to develop a creative synthesis or resolution to what causes
the contradiction in the first place.
hegel finds this weakness in kant: he doesn't answer whether the classifications of
things exist in the world or only made to exist through the intellect.
hegel aims to explain how history is a dynamic process, central to understanding human
• human subjectivity has a DRIVE/DESIRE TO KNOW
• when a crisis is encountered, we use our intellect to create a new understanding
• this INCREASES FREEDOM, consciousness is a dialectic dynamic
Kant's example is Newton. Isaac Newton discovers gravity. He sits under a tree and the
apple fell on his head. Hegel says: Newton must have asked, WHY DID THE APPLE FALL. he
had a desire, a drive to understand, he didn't know what the apple fell. He wanted to
know how is it the apple fell. He synthesized the existing knowledge of mathematics
and the observations of the heavens, and discoverd gravity. THIS INCREASED OUR
SO, SOMEHOW, INCREASING OUR KNOWLEDGE IS INCREASING OUR FREEDOM
along came Marx.
He says, OK HEGEL, IF WE'RE THE FREE-EST WE'VE EVER BEEN, WHY ARE WE ALIENATED BY OUR
He does a materialist phenomenology. WHY ARE WE:
1.ALIENATED FROM OUR SPECIES-BEING
2.ALIENATED FROM OTHER PEOPLE
3.ALIENATED FROM THE PROCESS OF OUR LABOUR
4.ALIENATED FROM THE PRODUCT OF OUR LABOUR
He accepts Hegel's notion that we have a desire to make ourselves free. But rather the
result of our increased knowledge has been to make ourselves less free. but he still
maintains that reason plays an important role in freeing us.
THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL if we are supposed to be more and more free, how is it we are alienated?
the critical theory in school owes a great debt to HORKHEIMER, ADORNO, MARCUSE, AND
FROMM. University of Frankfurt, 1920's.
How is it that the capitalist logic (how we think of things, of commodities, or
people) gets implemented? How are people reduced to objects? Where is this logic of
objectivity which fosters passivity and sustains the domination of capital reify
WHY DO WE ACCEPT OUR DOMINATION? WHY ARE WE HAPPY BUYING STUFF AND ALIENATING
DIALECTIC OF ENLIGHTENMENT (1947)
POWER is central to the modern pursuit of knowledge. We must master nature, the more
free we will be.
Power for them: "how do we come to understand that knowledge is linked to freedom and
advances in so-called reason?"
Disney clip of exact same choreography in all the movies:
Adorno argues that an industry emerges at the turn of the century when we see artistic
creations start to be
mass produced for sale.
before a painting was produced for one person or a particular audience.
there is only one copy of any artistic product.
now, with this shift, that things are made in mass production
this creates a MASS CULTURE.
we often think of mass culture as a large group that demands a sort of thing.
they say CULTURE DOES NOT EMERGE SPONTANEOUSLY FROM THE MASSES AND BECOME SOMETHING
THE MASSES LIKE,
PRODUCTS ARE PRODUCED WITH MASS CONSUMERS IN MIND, PRODUCTS SHOULD FIT AS MANY PEOPLE
CULTURE IS THE COMMODITY THAT THE MASSES ARE BUYING: THERE IS A FULFILLMENT OF
(RETROACTIVE) HUMAN NEEDS.
mass culture is these consumers, and they are part of the production of art.
COMPARE TWO CARS: BMW 328i AND FORD FOCUS, they are almost the same cars, but they
have an extremely disparate price.
the things produced have to do with A CULTURE.
SOMETHING ELSE IS BEING SOLD HERE
THE VERY MEANING OF THE PRODUCT ITSELF HAS A PRICE...
it is more important than the product itself
they talk about the CULTURE INDUSTRY
modern mass entertainment: art turned into a product sold for instant graification.
Formulaic, simplistic, and dull; has the effect of turning us into automata.
culture is subverted. we are not all albertans by culture, but rather we all share the same commercialized culture.
HOW DOES ART BECOME AN INDUSTRY RATHER THAN AN INDIVIDUAL EXPRESSION.
we've told those old and familiar things into something new.
the notion of culture becomes simplistic and makes us all stupid.
what is it these artistic commodities are creating:
Set of ideas and outlooks that determine how we think about the world, eg. religious
usually one ideiology is DOMINANT at any given moment in history.
Consciousness is manifest in IDEOLOGY, which helps reinforce the rule of a dominant
class. thus, ideas have a role of reinforcing society:
"THE IDEAS OF THE RULING CLASS ARE IN EVERY EPOCH THE RULING IDEAS, I.E. THE CLASS
WHICH IS THE RULING MATERIAL FORCE OF SOCIETY IS AT THE SAME TIME ITS RU