Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Adorno on the totality of individualism

I have been reading through Theodore Adorno's Lectures on an Introduction to Sociology and I really liked these quotes about how our society is united by individualism and competition and how this might possibly be self-destructive. 

“the totality within which we live, and which we can feel in each of our social actions, is conditioned not by a direct ‘togetherness’ encompassing us all, but by the fact that we are essentially divided from each other through the abstract relationship of exchange. It is not only a unity of separate parts, but a unity which is really only constituted through the mechanism of separation and abstraction.” 

“We live within a totality which binds people together only by virtue of their alienation from each other… it is precisely through the insistence on the principium individuationis - in other words, through the fact that within the dominant forms of society individual people seek their individual advantage, profit - that the whole is able to survive and reproduce itself at all - even if while moaning and groaning and at the cost of unspeakable sacrifices….. precisely because the whole or the totality of society maintains itself not on the basis of solidarity or from the standpoint of a comprehensive social subject, but only through the antagonistic interests of human beings, this society of rational exchanges is infected in its constitution and at its very root by a moment of irrationality which threatens to disintegrate it at any moment.” 

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