“Minima Moralia” by Theodor W. Adorno – I


Freedom of thought. – The suppression of philosophy by science has led, as is commonly known, to a separation of the two elements whose unity, according to Hegel, comprises the life of philosophy: reflection and speculation. The land of truth is soberly consigned to determinations of reflection, and speculations are tolerated therein with an ill grace, solely as a mere formulation of hypotheses, which are to be thought up outside of working hours and solved as quickly as possible. Whoever might believe that the speculative realm is preserved, undisputed, in its extra-scientific realm – left in peace, as it were, by the hustle and bustle of universal statistics – is thoroughly mistaken. Speculation is hit hard from the outset by the separation from reflection.
It either degrades into the compliant parroting of traditional philosophical schemes or degenerates, in its distance from facts which have been rendered blind, into the babble of a non-binding private world view. Not content with this, the scientific enterprise incorporates speculation into itself. Among the public functions of psychoanalysis, this is not the least. Its medium is the free association. The road into the unconscious of the patient is constructed by excusing them of the responsibility for reflection, and the analytical formation of theory follows the same track, whether it takes its cue from the progression and blockages of those associations, or whether the analyst, even the most gifted ones like Groddeck, trust to their own associations. Relaxed on the analyst’s couch, one rehearses what was once achieved by the most extreme exertion of thought by Schelling and Hegel in the lecturer’s podium: the decoding of the phenomenon. But such a relaxation of tension affects the quality of the thinking: the difference is hardly less than that between the philosophy of revelation [Schelling’s later philosophy] and the gossip of the mother-in-law. The same movement of the Spirit [Geistes], whose “material” was formerly to be raised to the concept, is itself degraded to a mere material for the conceptual social order. Whatever ideas cross one’s mind, are good enough for experts to decide whether the originator is a compulsive character, an oral type or a hysteric. By virtue of the slackening of responsibility, which lies in the separation from the reflection, from the control of understanding, speculation is consigned to science as an object, whose subjectivity is extinguished along with it. Thought, by allowing the administrative schema of the analysis to recall its unconscious origins, forgets to be thought. From the true judgement, it turns into a neutral material. Instead of mastering itself by performing the labor of the concept, it powerlessly entrusts its own processing to the doctor, who already knows everything anyway. Thus speculation is conclusively broken and turned into a fact, which can be filed in one of the branches of classification as a piece of evidence of what is always the same.


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