chapter  1
12 Pages

Theodor Adorno


Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno’s work leaves a legacy of wide ranging analysis (on topics as diverse as anti-Semitism, psychoanalysis and jazz), an equally broad and sophisticated conceptual vocabulary (instrumental reason; negative dialectic; damaged life) and a range of reflections at once poignant and provocative: ‘Life has become the ideology of its own absence’ (Adorno 2005a: 190); ‘Enlightenment is totalitarian’ (Adorno and Horkheimer 1997: 6). This chapter briefly illustrates the key themes of Adorno’s thinking and its

potential relation to international relations. To do so it outlines how Adorno’s key ideas evolved and their relation to critical theory, the extent to which international relations figures in the writings of Adorno and, conversely, the extent to which Adorno has informed and might still inform the study of international relations.