I've read a little of Adorno, it's particularly slow work though. I had a look at (the poet) Rilke's elegies, which Wikipedia added the following to [from Adorno's book The Jargon of Authenticity]

The fact that the neoromantic lyric sometimes behaves like the jargon [of authenticity], or at least timidly readies the way for it, should not lead us to look for the evil of the poetry simply in its form. It is not simply grounded, as a much too innocent view might maintain, in the mixture of poetry and prose. The evil, in the neoromantic lyric, consists in the fitting out of the words with a theological overtone, which is belied by the condition of the lonely and secular subject who is speaking there: religion as ornament

It seems like a bold move, to damn Rilke by association (with "authenticity").

My question is whether Adorno would, or rather did, retain anything of Heidegger's idea of authenticity (and what)?

  • also interested in what else, if anything, falls into Adorno's trap. i may read this book...
    – user6917
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 6:34
  • 1
    Heidegger has himself revised his position of Being and Time. Regarding Adorno I would recommend understanding what negative dialecticts really mean.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 10:18
  • @PhilipKlöcking is there something in particular you have in mind ?
    – user6917
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 1:41
  • @PhilipKlöcking not really sure what you're getting at, have i made a false claim in my question? the only claim i make seems trivial tbh... you could argue that the behaviour which rilke and heidegger share in does not make them, both, evil (if it does, then they are damned by association, by the demonstration of this behaviour in either case). but the suggestion is definitely there: that both behave in a similar way and that this behaviour is evil
    – user6917
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 1:37

2 Answers 2


There are a few key points that Adorno brings up:

  1. "Authenticity" is a spirituality that follows no doctrine. This way a way for someone, suggestive of heidegger, to prevent him from falling back into religion.

  2. This creates an environment prone to fascism and totalitarianism since the "Jargon" following the "authenticity" has a need for submission to an object, a void which a totalitarian regime would fill.

  3. Furthermore, "autheniticity" creates a lack of individuality amongst those accepting the doctrine because the words employed do not have any specific content to them, which dismantles the entire idea of the speaking self.

  4. The "Jargon", in following "autheniticity", gain authority based upon saying what people already thinking because they do not have a specific self. Thus, basically becoming a walking advertisement for the current thought of the world.

  5. The "authentic" person would feel powerless and nothingness within their character because they would have religious traits, but nothing to make themselves humble before. This only allows the individual to become nothing but what their social functions add up to.

  6. "In Heidegger, the subject is authentic to itself, the very definition of authenticity, so one’s own subjectivity is the judge of what is authentic. Reason is discarded as a judge at this point," (126).

Adorno was known, at least within the Dialectic of Enlightenment, to argue that we are becoming mere objects of a source of reason which we created via our attempt to hold sway over nature, which is not truly reason since it derives from mythical and religious origin as subjective in character. He was also known to argue that the "Culture Industry," which prevents us from knowing our social condition in front of us and being critical of us. "Authenticity", on the other hand, is the being of authentic to oneself, in its most basic form. However, this would create clear subjective reason in all that we do, which is something the Adorno will not find attractive. So if we look at all 6 main points he makes in the Jargon of Authenticity and relate it to his main idea of the Dialectic of Enlightenment and "Culture Industry" (since the Jargon is following the idea of "authenticity"), we can see if he maybe kept any of the idea of "authenticity" or if any of his views were compatable with the idea of "authenticity"

  1. This clearly has a basis in religion, which, according to Adorno, is subjective in nature and cannot be valid in reason. Thus, it is not compatable.

  2. Submission to the culture industry is already considered as not a good option, according to Adorno. So, if we apply the same principles to fascism, it is evident seen that Adorno would be against fascism. This means that "authenticity" cannot be compatable.

  3. Without the idea of the speaking self, number 4 is led to, which provides us with our answer to Adorno's position on this as well.

  4. In being a walking advertisement for whatever the time's views may be, we are not subjects of our own reason, but subjects to mythical and religious undertones, thus is not compatable

  5. Adding up to your mere social functions means that you have also become a person who is passive and not critical of your own social condition, which is falling into the "culture industry". Thus, Adorno cannot approve of "authenticity" on these grounds as well.

  6. In only being subjective to oneself, we follow society's views instead of truly objective reason, which creates a relativistic standpoint. This is already noteably disapproved of by Adorno, thus his views are not compatable with "authneticity" whatsoever here as well.

Overall, it is obvious that Adorno did not use "authenticity" in any of his own arguements. However, he did use it as a mode to prove that human reason has been something that is hugely subjective to our culture, rather than objective. So one could argue that within this piece, "authenticity" has been used by Adorno to validate something. Otherwise, he seems to dismiss the idea of "authenticity" entirely.

  • 1
    thanks for explicitly answering the question, unlike the other answer. but you could use more references
    – user6917
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 19:11

Asking about "anything" is rather vague especially in this case - Adorno and Heidegger share too many things: both wrested with Hegel, both had interests in aesthetics and despised postivism and that is just to name a few. Whether Adorno took something from Heidegger or both have a common source is a rather muddled point.

The problem of their common grounds has been considered more than once, a recent book of papers to look through is Iain Macdonald and Krzysztof Ziarek (eds.), Adorno and Heidegger: Philosophical Questions, Stanford University Press, 2008, 221pp.

Here is a brief quote from something Richard Bernstein wrote 30 years ago:

For all of Adorno's explicit scorn for Heidegger and despite his barbed condemnation of the "jargon of aumenticity," Adorno provides the bridge — or to use Nietzsche's phrase, "the tightrope" — to Heidegger's ontological rendering of the history and destiny of logos and reason which culminates in metaphysical humanity's blindness and forgetfulness of the silent call of Being. In Heidegger's fateful, strong reading of the "history of Being" which is already foreshadowed in Being and Time but becomes more and more pronounced in his "middle" and "late" writings, we find a thematic affinity with Adorno's own claim that the seeds of "identity logic" with its hidden will-to-mastery are to be found in the very origins of Western rationality.

The Rage against the reason, Philosophy and Literature, Vol. 10, Nbr 2, Oct. 1986, pp.186-210

  • "Is there some thing (1) that A took from H and (2) he could not have taken from anywhere else?". Almost certainly, No; things in common can be traced to a common source(s). Ist das klar?
    – sand1
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 12:02
  • not really, if only cos you're still glossing authenticity and heidegger. you seem to say that if two authors have a lot of common ground none of their ideas can be compared (contrasted?). if authenticity is a special case then you should say so
    – user6917
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 19:09
  • Misunderstandings are sometimes puzzling; the point was that for anything in common you can argue that it came from somwhere else.
    – sand1
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 9:43
  • i think you misunderstood the question, which isn't about origins. i'm sorry in that case
    – user6917
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 3:24

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