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.







Jakob Norberg

Professor of German Studies

Jakob Norberg’s research explores conceptions of community in German thought and literature. His first book, Sociability and Its Enemies (Northwestern 2014), examines the search for non-authoritarian forms of collective life after the end of the Second World War and focuses on thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt, and Jürgen Habermas. The second book, The Brothers Grimm and the Making of German Nationalism (Cambridge 2022), shows how Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm viewed philologists as arbiters of national identity, even adjudicators of national territory, and therefore as experts indispensable to the modern nation state. A forthcoming book entitled Schopenhauer’s Politics (Cambridge) reconstructs Arthur Schopenhauer’s anti-nationalist, anti-collectivist political philosophy. His articles have appeared in venues such as PMLA, Arcadia, Cultural Critique, New German Critique, Textual Practice, Telos, and the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought. More information about Norberg can be found on

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