Adorno's Advice: Minima Moralia and the Critique of Liberalism
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Adorno’s Minima Moralia was part of a publishing boom in the genre of advice literature in postwar West Germany. The combination of economic resurgence and attempted cultural restoration resulted in a widespread wish to master forming models of social intercourse; this craving for guidance accounts for the volume’s commercial success. But while Adorno participates in the culture of counseling, he couples practical suggestions with repeated announcements of the demise of the self-determining subject, the projected recipient of advice. He addresses problems that appear in the individual’s frame of attention but consistently disputes that this is a meaningful scene of action in the age of total administration. Minima Moralia both inhabits and violates the conventions of advice literature in order to dramatize the experience of the discrepancy between societal logic and the individual’s resources.
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Associate Professor of German Studies
Jakob Norberg’s research explores conceptions of community in German thought and literature. His first book, Sociability and Its Enemies (2014), examines the search for non-authoritarian forms of collectivity after the end of the Second World War and focuses on thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt, and Jürgen Habermas. His articles in literary studies locate the communal in literature by reconstructing how non-individual, collective voices appear in modern literary wo