Tiivistelmät - Abstracts

ESKO HARNI & MARKKU NIVALAINEN: Theodor W. Adorno, Giorgio Agamben and the Self-Criticism of European Thought

Theodor W. Adorno and Giorgio Agamben are both key representatives of the European philosophical tradition. Despite their apparent similarities, they have rarely been subjected to a comparative assessment.

In this article, we aim to analyse the thinking of Adorno and Agamben in relation to one of the most horrifying catastrophes of European history and culture: the Nazi extermination camps, especially that of Auschwitz. Both thinkers believe that there is something in Auschwitz that goes beyond the apparent destruction and suffering. The catastrophe stands as a metaphor for the objectification and exclusion that are endemic to European thought and that stem from an uncritical belief in progress.

Although heavily critical of the European philosophical tradition they both belong to, Adorno and Agamben also believe that the means of thinking in a different mode already exist within the tradition. The grounds for this non-objectifying and non-exclusive thought can be found in art and play.