Adorno’s conception of autonomous art in light of Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophies

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018

Thesis Language: English

Student: İlay İnceefe

Supervisor: BARIŞ PARKAN


In this thesis I tried to to analyze Adorno’s conception of autonomous art through his conception of “truth content”. Within the aesthetic debates in the Frankfurt School, Adorno uses the conception of “autonomy in art/autonomous work of art” as opposed to “politically committed art”, which is defended by Benjamin and Brecht. However, while his understanding of autonomous work of art seems to defend the elitist understanding of art, this study aims to show that Adorno’s conception of “autonomy” or “truth content” should not be considered and elaborated without looking at the work of art’s relation with the society and history. Adorno’s conception of “truth content” gives a clear understanding of autonomus art/autonomous work of art. Because of this reason, I tried to analyze his conception of “truth content” in Aesthetic Theory in detail. Aesthetic Theory includes many references to Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophies and aesthetics. In order to understand the historical relationship between Kant, Hegel and Adorno, which shapes Adorno’s conception of “truth content”, I presented Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophies and aesthetics in terms of their effects on the conception of “autonomous art” and “truth content”. Close examination of the “truth content” in Aesthetic Theory with the historical relationship with Kant and Hegel gives a clear understanding of what Adorno means by “autonomous art/work of art” especially in his debates with Benjamin and Brecht. At the end of this research, how and in what way Adorno’s conception of autonomous art and work of art include what is social and political can be reached and understood clearly.