University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 19.1.2018 M.Soc.Sc. Markku Nivalainen (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Philosophy)

Start date: Jan 19, 2018 12:00 PM

End date: Jan 19, 2018 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, Old festival hall (S212)

M.Soc.Sc. Markku Nivalainen defends his doctoral dissertation in Philosophy ”Adorno´s Tragic Vision". Opponent Lecturer Dr. Karoline Gritzner (Aberystwyth University, Wales) and custos Lecturer Olli-Pekka Moisio (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

Markku NivalainenM.Soc.Sc. Markku Nivalainen defends his doctoral dissertation in Philosophy ”Adorno´s Tragic Vision". Opponent Lecturer Dr. Karoline Gritzner (Aberystwyth University, Wales) and custos Lecturer Olli-Pekka Moisio (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

The dissertation deals with the tragic vision that motivates certain key aspects of Theodor W. Adorno’s philosophy. While in the formative early work, the Dialectic of Enlightenment, co-written with Max Horkheimer, the tragic views are clear, in later works, such as the Aesthetic Theory and the Negative Dialectics, they are only implicit. The study reconstructs the tragic vision found in the Dialectic of Enlightenment and uses it as a key to understand Adorno’s mature philosophy.

A tragic vision is born when specific philosophical convictions regarding agency and morality coalesce with certain ethical and political conditions. A tragic vision forms the grounds for tragic views. For Adorno, the key convictions rise out of the failures of reason and culture to enable the eradication of unnecessary suffering by creating the kind of conditions in which human beings could flourish. These convictions give rise to a view of humanity as blind to its own shortcomings and thus doomed to perpetuate suffering in the name of progress and growth.

Adorno’s persistent negativism prevents him from offering practical solutions for changing the world, but he does offer a scathing critique of the modern world that continues to resonate with new generations of readers. The analysis of the tragic vision presented in this dissertation will highlight the fundamental philosophical and ethical commitments underlying Adorno’s views and will thus allow both situating his work into a larger cultural context and juxtaposing it with the work of other philosophers, as well as other writers, thereby opening new vistas for research not just on Adorno but on continental philosophy, social theory, and the domain of arts and letters at large.

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Markku Nivalainen
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