Adorno and Heidegger on language and the inexpressible

Roger Foster

pp. 187-204

I argue that the reflections on language in Adorno and Heidegger have their common root in a modernist problematic that dissected experience into ordinary experience, and transfiguring experiences that are beyond the capacity for expression of our language. I argue that Adorno's solution to this problem is the more resolutely "modernist" one, in that Adorno is more rigorous about preserving the distinction between what can be said, and what strives for expression in language. After outlining the definitive statement of this problematic in Nietzsche's early epistemological writings, I outline Heidegger's solution and subsequently Adorno's critique of Heidegger. Finally, I argue that situating Adorno within the modernist problem of language and expression is crucial for making sense of his philosophy as a form of critical theory.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-007-9050-9

Full citation:

Foster, R. (2007). Adorno and Heidegger on language and the inexpressible. Continental Philosophy Review 40 (2), pp. 187-204.

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