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184 / TELOS
falsifies historically contradictory and dynamic content. In this regard Marx
criticized Eugfcne Sue's moralistic novels, which always falsified the development of
unintegrated and lower-class elements; and in opposition to this sort of writing he
extolled Diderot, expanding Hegel's analysis of the "indignant consciousness" in
Rameau's Nephew: "there man has lost his identity, but at the same time he has not
only acquired the theoretical consciousness of this loss, he has been driven, out of
distress no longer to be evaded, no longer to be ameliorated, utterly imperious—as
the practical expression of necessity—to revolt against this inhumanity: therefore
the proletariat can and must free itself." This problematic identity was the unity
which Sue and idealist aesthetics falsified, as Lifshitz says, seeking "the unity of
opposites not in the consecutive development of contradictions but in their defeat—
in the curdling of the revolutionary process."
This concept of aesthetic unity remains radical today in view of widely espoused
theories which make art a harmonious, contemplative "organic" unity at rest within
itself or in an equilibrium of purely internal tensions: a Kantian "free play" of the
imagination transcending historical struggles. As Lifshitz shows, Marx understood
that this uncritical concept of "play" rests on alienated labor which, as such, is differentiated from play. Perceiving that alienation is only a contingent mode of
objectification and taking Greek art as a limited indication of the possibilities of a
disalienated culture, Marx makes it possible to see art as an active social force and a
form of history. If aesthetic unity is an attempt to transcend alienation it need not
be an escape, as for idealist aesthetics, from the objectification process in which
humanity creates itself. The final implication is, as Lifshitz stresses, that art
becomes neither superfluous nor impossible in communist society: there, unlike
what occurs in the "perfect state" of idealism, history does not end. Instead, along
with art, history is reborn in a "return of youth," the reproduction of the truth of
Greek art ("normal childhood") in a qualitatively more coherent, maturer form:
"Collectivism, far from suppressing personal originality, in reality provides the only
solid ground for an all-sided development of personality." Lifshitz shows, then, that
Marx's view of society is thoroughly dialectical and historical, seeking no final stasis
but instead opening the real possibility of free development. This, the theme of his
book, places him (with Marx) in implicit opposition to theories of "realism" in
which art merely "reflects" the supposedly achieved actuality of a disalienated
socialist society—which is only the idealist illusion of the "perfect state" reborn out
of a new mode of alienation.
Bart Grahl

Theodor W. Adorno, Jargon of Authenticity. Translated by Kurt Tarnowski
and Frederic Will. Northwestern University Press: Evanston, Illinois, 1973.
During the 1920's a new religion was arising in Germany: the religion of
authenticity. With the publication of Sein und Zeit in 1927, Heidegger became the
philosopher of the authentic ones and his followers propagated the language of



authenticity that spread through diverse sectors of society. Their linguistic trick was
to construct a litany of noble nouns such as authenticity, individuality, being,
mineness, spirit, encounter, etc. that served as magic tokens loaded with significance
that could be uttered with profound intonation. For example, Heidegger's follower
Bollnow writes: "Sunday really begins on Saturday evening. When the tradesman
straightens his shop, when the housewife has put the whole house into clean and
shining condition, and has even swept the street in front of the house and freed it
from all the dirt which it has collected during the week; when, finally, even the
children are bathed; then the adults wash off the week's dust, scrub themselves
thoroughly; and go to the fresh clothes which are lying ready for them: when all of
that is arranged, with rural lengthiness and care, then a deep warm feeling of
resting settles down over the people."1
Adorno's comment is trenchant: "Nietzsche's 'something stinks' is perfectly
appropriate in referring to this strange bathing ceremony of the hale life" (10).
Through the mediation of language, the authentic tries to infuse the sacred into the
profane: "Hypocrisy thus becomes an a priori and everyday language is spoken here
and now as if it was the sacred one" (12). "But the untruth indicts itself by being
bombastic" (13).
In another of its societal manifestations the jargon of authenticity becomes the
vehicle of a specious humanism. It elevates and dignifies Man as such and covers
over and neglects the dehumanization of man in contemporary society.
Remembering the horrors perpetuated this century by man against man in the
concentration camps, battle fields and labor market, Adorno cannot stomach pious
declarations of man's nobility, sublimity, and spirituality. The jargon feeds,
however, on a pseudo-spirituality and expressiveness that Adorno claims merely
provides compensation for those who are powerless to act in the face of a
threatening status quo: "The empty chatter about expression is the ideology
complementary to that silencing which the status quo imposes on those who have no
power over it, and whose claim is therefore hollow in advance. But whatever turns its
back critically on the status quo has been discounted, by Germans in solid positions,
as 'without expressive value' " (15).
The jargon also nourishes tendencies of extreme subjectivism. Truth is defined as
disclosure (Heidegger) or as an encounter between I and Thou (Buber). This
doctrine "defames the objectivity of truth as thingly (dinghaft) and secretly warms
up irrationalism" (16). It plays on a false transcendence by endowing the jargon with
theological overtones to recapture a lost transcendence. However, as Adorno notes,
although the jargon is constantly mobilized against reification, it itself falls prey to
the same sort of interchangeable, levelled off idle talk which Heidegger railled
against in Sein und Zeit: "The stereotypes of the jargon support and reassure
subjective movement. They seem to guarantee that one is not doing what in fact he
1. Otto Friedrich Bollnow, Neue Geborgenheit (Stuttgart, 1956), p. 205. Cited in Adorno,
Jargon of Authenticity, p. 11. Hereafter citations from the Jargon of Authenticity will be simply
referred to, followed by a page number in parentheses. Bollnow is a naive phenomenologist
who recently retired from a long teaching career in Tubingen where he was appointed during
the Nazi period. In a typical book Mensch und Raum Bollnow carries out a phenomenology of
the home, in which he endows the components of the bourgeois home with an aura of
meaningfulness, combining quotes from poets and bourgeois cliches about the hearth, kitchen,
celler, etc., neglecting only to sanctify the toilet or chamber pot.

186 / TELOS
is doing—bleating with the crowd—simply by virtue of his using those stereotypes to
guarantee that one has achieved it all himself, as an unmistakably free person. The
formal gesture of autonomy replaces the content of autonomy. Bombastically, it is
called commitment, but it is heteronomously borrowed. That which pseudoindividualizing attends to in the culture industry, the jargon attends to among those
who have contempt for the culture industry. This is the German symptom of
progressive half-culture. It seems to be invented for those who feel that they have
been judged by history, or at least that they are falling, but who still strut in front of
their peers as if they were an interior elite" (18-19).
Adorno claims that the jargon calms the fears of uprootedness and anxieties of
modern life for some and gives others a sense of superiority and culture. For the
jargon has been synthetically prepared and transmitted through the education and
culture industries so that all sorts of people can use it to give themselves an aura of
dignity denied them in their daily life, or that legitimizes their privilege and power
(pp. 19ff). Moreover, "the jargon guides the petite bourgeois to a positive attitude
toward life" (22). Bollnow's glorification of the everyday life, Heidegger's hallowing
the "splendor of the simple" and the authenticity of the country life (pp. 49-59), the
call of Jaspers, Buber and others for commitment, encounter, and religious
transcendence of no matter what kind—all of these postures sanctify and legitimize
the unholy and illegitimate status quo. The deterioration of life under
late-capitalism, the fear of unemployment, insecurity, anxieties and seizure of
meaninglessness—all of those phenomena are ontologically volitized and overcome
by the authentics who preach a "new affirmation of being," "a joyful and thankful
harmony with the very existence of man as it is" (my italics) and call for
"Seinsglaubigkeit," faith unto Being (24-5). Something does stink here!
Adorno brilliantly shows how Heidegger, Jaspers, and others' jargon is
watered-down and taken over by their disciples and then again co-opted,
synthesized, and served up by the media and culture industry. Particularly striking
is his demonstration of how the jargon is a phony and misdirected attack on
positivism, rationality, technology, and mass society (these phenomena are criticized
from a different point of view by Adorno and his colleagues). The jargon opposes to
an uprooted, mobile, insecure modern existence a rootedness and groundedness in
the "authentic." Now, whereas Nazism provides "authentic" content for some
"authentics" before the war, after the war the authentics slide back to apotheosis of
the simple everyday, the rootedness of the soil, religion, or Being itself. What the
authentics fail to see is that the root, ground and origin of the phenomena they
criticize is society and social conditions. In their sublime concern with Man, they
overlook the suffering and needs of living people and fail to show that it is societal
conditions that are responsible for the dehumanization that they shed a crocodile
tear or two over. Hence Adorno suggests, "Man is the ideology of dehumanization"
(59). Man, once believed to have been created in the image of god and elevated to a
god by the young Hegelians and Nietzscheans, cannot be resurrected from alienation
by the repetition of magical formulas or a spiritualizing of inner life. The ideology of
universal humanity thus serves as a cover for existing inhumanity. In Adorno's
words: "Self-righteous humanity, in the midst of a general inhumanity, only
intensifies the inhuman state of affairs. This is a state of affairs which necessarily
remains hidden to those who suffer here and now. The jargon only doubles the
hiding cover. The compensation and consolation offered by the jargon and its world



are standardized by their twisted desire for that which they are refused" (67). "No
elevation of the concept of Man has any power in the face of his actual degradation
into a bundle of functions. The only help lies in changing the conditions which
brought the state of affairs to this point—conditions which uninterruptedly
reproduce themselves on a larger scale. By means of the magic formula of existence,
one disregards society, and the psychology of real individuals which is dependent on
that society. Thus one insists on the changing of Man, who in Hegel's sense exists
merely in the abstract. This results in a tightening of the reins—not in elevation but
in the continuing of the old suppressing ideology" (68-9).
According to the authentics, "alienation" is the human condition, but not a word
is uttered relating alienation to capitalism and the conditions of bourgeois society.
Instead "alienation" is safely defused into an ontological concept which they can
calmly utter at the right moment for the desired effect. Thus the authentics end by
accommodating themselves to the administered world, sometimes through a phony
ritual of non-accommodation.
In the U. S. today there is a booming Heidegger industry. In many major
universities and a lot of colleges there are au currant careerists chirping Heidegger's
jargon to mystified students and using his teutonic verbage to assume an air of
profundity. Harper and Row is slickly publishing one after another of Heidegger's
works, packaged to maximize profits7- and advertised in brisk Madison Avenue
copy. The academic entrepreneurs of the Heidegger industry meet yearly to ritually
celebrate His Philosophy and jealously protect the texts from possible detractors.-*
Thus we can expect a continuation and probably intensification of Heideggerian
bombast in the near future. Here Adorno comes to our aid and provides the
beginning of a penetrating critique of Heidegger's philosophy.
Adorno notes that his combining linguistic physiognomy, sociology, and
philosophy in The Jargon of Authenticity is justified because in reality these
phenomena are interconnected and are separated in isolated divisions only by a
dubious intellectual division of labor that is often unaware of the price it pays for its
specialization. He argues that in Heidegger's claim to do "pure ontology" and to
thus cancel out sociology, history, ethics, and all merely empirical content (which
Heidegger scorns as merely "ontic"), philosophy in fact loses all content and
becomes a sublimated expression on an ever more questionable ontological sphere:
"As long as philosophy was in line with its own nature, it also had content. However,
in retreating to the ideal of its pure nature, philosophy cancels itself out" (xix).
Adorno's conception of philosophy and critique of pure ontology is developed in
Negative Dialectic, so the Jargon of Authenticity is but a propaedeutic to that work
Adorno's criticism of the abstract, formal nature of Heidegger's ontology and the
2. One essay out of the collection Holzwege was translated and expanded into a single
volume {Hegel's Concept of Experience which is really Heidegger's mystification of Hegel) and
pulls in about five bucks. Four essays from another Heidegger collection Vortrttge und
Aufsatze have been recently published (The End of Philosophy) and carry a high price tag.
Obviously there is a lot of money to be made off of Heideggerian mystification.
3. The editor of a recent anthology on technology wanted to include an essay by Heidegger
on technology but was refused permission by the guardians of Heidegger's secrets. The editor
was thoroughly pissed off and responded with flair to "the arbitrary conceit of Heidegger's
literary executors in this country." Philosophy and Technology, edited by Mitcham and
Mackey (New York, 1972).

188 / TELOS
misguided bracketing out of societal, historical, ethical, and cultural content is in
some ways ironic because Heidegger himself was attacking abstracting, fragmenting
formalism and lack of concretion and primordiality in Sein und Zeit. But because
Heidegger's jargon of authenticity and his ontology refuses all concrete content, "it
is consequently forced into secret abstraction, which is the same formalism against
which Heidegger's own school, that of phenomenology, once strongly spoke
out" (93). In regard to Heidegger's "hermeneutic" of everydayness and
inauthenticity, Adorno rightly sees that "the accompanying words which he
attributes to this mode of being are essentially vituperative" (96). In fact, although
Heidegger claims to be doing pure ontology, he is really doing a sort of negative
social ontology and surreptitious ethics—a critique of inauthentic everyday existence
contrasted with an ideal of an authentic existence (which he himself admits is an
ideal of existence).4 Adorno argues that although Heidegger's fundamental ontology
with its claim of "primordiality" pretends to have its starting point outside of
culture, such ontology "succumbs to cultural mediations all the more; they recur as
social aspects of that ontology's own purity" (99).
Adorno goes on to show the societal content of Heidegger's analysis of inauthentic
ways of talking (idle chatter), acting (curiosity), and the levelled down understanding
and averageness that is the mark of inauthentic ways of being (pp. 100-13). Adorno
brilliantly relates Heidegger's analyses to bourgeois society and its ideologies and
makes clear the relation of Heidegger's rarefied philosophy to its own cultural
milieu. His concept of authenticity is based on an analysis of subjectivity that
Adorno mercilessly attacks: "As is well known, Heidegger supplants the traditional
category of subjectivity by Dasein, whose essence is existence. Being, however, which
'is an issue for this entity in its very Being, is in each case mine' (jemeinigkeit). This
is meant to distinguish subjectivity from all other existent being. It intends,
furthermore, to prohibit existence from being 'taken ontologically as an instance or
special case of some genus of entities as things that are present-at-hand.' This
construction, which is inspired by Kierkegaard's doctrine of the 'transparency' of
the self, would like to make possible a starting out from some element of being. This
latter is valued as the immediate givenness of the fact of consciousness in traditional
epistemology; yet, at the same time, this element of being is supposed to be more
than mere fact, in the same manner as the ego of speculative idealism once was.
Behind the apersonal 'is concerned,' nothing more is hidden than the fact that
Dasein is consciousness. The entrance of this formula is Heidegger's scene a faire
Heidegger's concept of subjectivity and the transformation to authentic
subjectivity is in Adorno's view but a form of bourgeois individualism. The entrance
to authentic subjectivity is mineness (Jemeinigkeit): the authentic person must take
over and possess his unique individuality as his own "title deed," which declares
that the person "owns himself (114). To be authentic one must choose to be a self
and to thus possess one's mineness (individuality) as the special mark of one's
authenticity. "Until further notice authenticity and inauthenticity have as their
criterion the decision in which the individual subject chooses itself as its own
possession" (115). All that remains of subjectivity after Heidegger's dismantling of
the traditional metaphysics of subjectivity is a formal principle of individuality
4. Being and Time, English translation by Macquarrie and Robinson (New York, 1962),
p. 310.

which an authentic person supposedly thirsts after as an alcoholic for drink.
Heidegger continually talks of how one's self and individuality are "at stake" (es
gi'ht urn) and how "Dasein exists for the sake of itself." These formulae echo
bourgeois egotism and an obsessive concern with selfhood: a fanatical drive for
individuality fueled by page after page of Heidegger's magnus opus. But such a
one-sided, uncompromising drive to be a self falls victim to a mode of alienation as
deep as the societal alienation Heidegger is reacting against but fails to concretely
clarify and attack. For one thing, "the subject, the concept of which was once
created in contrast to reification thus becomes reified" (115). Burying oneself in the
hermetic cloister of hollow subjectivity cuts one off from the fullness of life and all
societal relations. It is noteworthy that the body, sex, hunger, love, friendship, and
solidarity are not mentioned in Heidegger's prudish ontology which wants to cut
itself off from all merely "ontic" content, while at the same time returning to the
everyday world inwardly transformed. The rebellious overtones rumbling beneath
the call to overcome inauthenticity and engage in a project of self-transformation
are muted as the authentic self, who has temporarily withdrawn into its self to take
possession of its "ownness," returns on tippy toe to the everyday world and timidly
makes its peace with the powers that be, consoled with the arrogant conviction that
it is authentic and let the masses flounder in their despicable inauthenticity. But this
elitist gratification is in the last analysis, as Adorno shows, rather miserable: "The
individual, who himself can no longer rely on any firm possession, holds on to
himself in his extreme abstractness as the last, the supposedly unlosable possession.
Metaphysics ends in a miserable consolation: after all, one still remains what one is.
Since men do not remain what they are by any means, neither socially nor
biologically, they gratify themselves with the stale remainder of self-identity as
something which gives distinction, both in regard to being and meaning. The
unlosable element, which has no substratum but its own concept, the tautological
selfness of the self, is to provide the ground, as Heidegger calls it, which the
authentics possess and the inauthentics lack. The essence of Dasein, i.e. what is
more than its mere existence, is nothing but its selfness: it is itself. The quarrel with
Heidegger's language is not the fact that it is permeated, like any philosophical
language, with figures from an empirical reality which it would like to transcend,
but that it transforms a bad empirical reality into transcendence" (115-6).
The meaninglessness of the world is thus supposedly overcome by a fiat that the
self is its own meaning, or meaning-endowing agency, which will at any price salvage
meaning and transcendence. In Heidedder's sly idealism, the pure identity of
authenticity (the empty formal character of individuality that is prized as the holy
grail) is disguised with ontological gestures and coinages that are supposed to infuse
an aura of depth and meaning into the puny ego that thinks itself authentic. The
"hypostasis of the ontological sphere" is, Adorno points out, "the nourishment for
all of Heidegger's philosophy" (120).5 What is ultimately pathetic about Heidegger's
cult of selfhood and ontological salvation of the subject is that "the concept of
selfness is here being eternalized precisely at the moment in which it has already
disintegrated" (122). The fetish of the self is thus: "the ideological answer to the fact
that the current state of affairs is everywhere producing an ego weakness which
5. Adorno acutely unpacks the deceptions and tricks in Heidegger's concept of the ontological in a virtuoso performance on pages 117-121, and passim. The Heideggerian theme of the
ontologieal is again attacked in Negative Dialectic.

190 / TELOS
eradicates the concept of subject as individuality. That weakness as well as its
opposite march into Heidegger's philosophy. Authenticity is supposed to calm the
consciousness of weakness, but it also resembles it. By it the living subject is robbed
of all definition, in the same way as it loses its attributes in reality. However, what is
done to men by the world becomes the ontological possibility of the inauthenticity of
men. From that point it is only a step to the usual criticism of culture, which
self-righteously picks on shallowness, superficiality, and the growth of mass culture"
Moreover, the emptiness and arbitrariness of authentic subjectivity "secretly
warms up irrationalism." Since the authentic resolve is indeterminate, one could
resolve on anything as one's authentic project to fill the content of the form of
authenticity. An authentic Nazi, an authentic capitalist, an authentic drug
addict—all possible forms of authenticity "when subjectivity becomes the judge of
authenticity" (126). Not only does Heidegger deprive all social norms, moral
principles and ideal values of the validity, but he robs reason itself of its claim to
discover objective truths or moral guidelines: "Since it is denied any objective
determination, authenticity is determined by the arbitrariness of the subject, which
is authentic to itself. The jurisdictional claim of reason, which Husserl still asserted,
falls away" (126).
In Heidegger's concept of authenticity, the subject illusorily maintains its total
domination and hegemony over its fate "without regard to the fact that he is caught
up in a determining objectivity" (128). Hence "self-control is hypostatized" (129).
The authentic individual is to have total power and control over his life. This
exaggerated voluntarism goes to such an extreme that the authentic individual is to
take over and constitute the totality of its life from birth to death. Even the absolute
negative, the final negation is absorbed and mastered by the Faustian self that
overpowers the horror of its own death and magically transforms its relation to the
end into a mark of authenticity.
Indeed the final absurdity of Heidegger's jargon of authenticity that Adorno
attacks is Heidegger's bizzare smuggling of death into the role of the authentic.
Heidegger pulls this off somewhat as follows: at stake is the discovery of something
authentic, something that is one's own, something inalienable: one's ownmost
possibility that no one can take away or take over. The authentic one searches for
this non-representable something that is uniquely one's own (eigentlich). Heidegger's
perverse answer is that death performs this feat. Hence death becomes what is
authentic, allowing one to sublimate death into an ontological essence with a rather
pleasant aroma. No doubt this sublimation and mastery of death explains part of
the fascination Heidegger's conception had for a culture nourished on romanticism,
Christian theology, and confronted with horrifying spectacles of death and violence
that evoke a deep fear of death and dying. But this strange merger of death and
authenticity falls prey to a corrosive reification: "He plays tactically with the
subjective aspect of authenticity: for him, authenticity is no longer a logical element
mediated by subjectivity but is something in the subject, in Dasein itself, something
objectively discoverable. The observing subject prescribes whatever is authentic to
the subject as observed: it prescribed the attitude toward death. This displacement
robs the subject of its moment of freedom and spontaneity: it completely freezes,
like the Heideggerian states-of-mind, into something like an attribute of the
substance 'existence.' Hatred toward reifying psychology removes from the living



that which would make them other than reified. Authenticity, which according to
doctrine is absolutely unobjective, is made into an object. The reason for this is that
authenticity is a manner of behavior that is abscribed to the being-a-subject of the
subject, not to the subject as a relational factor. Thus it becomes a possibility that is
prefixed to and foreordained for the subject, without the subject being able to do
anything about it" (126-7).
In the macabre pirouette in which Heidegger's authentic self becomes authentic
through authentic being toward death reflection about death is dismissed for
something deeper: "endurance" of the possibility of dying. "Violence," Adorno
suggests, "inheres in the nucleus of Heidegger's philosophy as it does in the form of
his language" (133). What is most brutal of all becomes the authentic. Although the
mastery of death is really illusory, the authentic one believes its authentic being
toward death is the mark of its authenticity. Adorno tells how one of Heidegger's
students once gushed out that Heidegger had decisively forced men to confront the
fact of death and Horkheimer answered that Ludendorf had taken care of that
much better (138). In Heidegger's slipping death into the position of the authentic,
"tautology and nihilism bind themselves into a holy alliance" (139). Adorno clearly
spells out the consequences of Heidegger's ontological juggling act that transforms
the absolute negative into the sublimely positive: "Death becomes the core of the
self, as soon as it reduces itself completely to itself. Once self has emptied itself of all
qualities, on the grounds that they are accidental-actual, then nothing is left but to
pronounce that doubly pitiful truth, that the self has to die; for it is already dead.
Hence the emphasis of that sentence, 'Death is.' For the ontology of Sein und Zeit,
the irreplaceable quality of death turns into the essential character of subjectivity
itself: this fact determines all the other determinations that lead up to the doctrine
of authenticity, which has not only its norm but its ideal in death. Death becomes
the essential element in Dasein. Once thought recurs—as though to its ground—to
the absolutely isolated individuality, then there remains nothing tangible for it
except morality; everything else derives only from the world, which for Heidegger, as
for the idealists, is secondary. 'With death, Dasein stands before itself in its
ownmost potentiality-for-being.' Death becomes the representative of God, for
whom the Heidegger of Sein und Zeit felt himself to be too modern. Furthermore, it
would seem to him too blasphemous to consider even the possibility of doing away
with death; Being-unto-death, as an existentiale, is explicitly cut off from the
possibility of any mere (sic) ontic doing away with it. Since death, as the existential
horizon of Dasein, is considered absolute, it becomes the absolute in the form of an
icon. There is here a regression to the cult of death; thus the jargon has from the
beginning gotten along well with military matters" (137-8). "The characteristica
universalis of Dasein, as in the Dasein of a mortal, takes the place of what must die.
Thus death is manoeuvered into the position of the authentic" (138-9). "Death
becomes the essence of the realm of mortality. This occurs in opposition to the
immediate, which is characterized by the fact that it is there. Death thus becomes
something that is artificially beyond the existent. Saved from the They (das Man) it
becomes the latter's sublime counterpart; it becomes the authentic. Authenticity is
death" (151-2).
Although there are hints of a critique of the bourgeois ideology of death in
Heidegger's reflections on how most people flee from their death and authenticity,
rather than truly unveiling and demystifying bourgeois ideology, Heidegger creates a



new ideology of death and authenticity. Moreover, Adorno concludes, "Heidegger
does the same thing as fascism; he defends the more brutal form of Being, negative
as it may be" (155). Further, to a certain extent Heidegger's authentic one flees from
the reality of death: By "falsely cleansing death of its misery and stench" he makes
it into something higher: "This cleansing occurs in the same manner as a
Wagnerian love- or salvation-death. All this is similar to the integration of death
into hygiene, of which Heidegger accuses the inauthentic. By means of that which is
kept silent in the high stylization of death, Heidegger becomes an accomplice to
what is horrible in death. Even in the cynical materialism of the dissection room,
this horribleness is recognized more honestly and denounced more strongly than in
the tirades of ontology."
Rather than ontologizing death and sanctifying its horror and terror as an
"authentic possibility," critical theory takes the side of Life against Death and
engages itself in the struggle against death as the mortal enemy of mankind. As
Marcuse puts it in Eros and Civilization: "(Death is) a fact, perhaps even an
ultimate necessity—but a necessity against which the unrepressed energy of
mankind will protest, against which it will wage its greatest struggle.
"In this struggle, reason and instinct could unite. Under conditions of a truly
human existence, the difference between succumbing to desease at the age of ten,
thirty, fifty, or seventy, and dying a 'natural' death after a fulfilled life, may well be
a difference worth fighting for with all instinctual energy. Not those who die, but
those who die before they must and want to die, those who die in agony and pain,
a philosophy that does not work as
are the great indictment against civilization
the handmaiden of repression responds to the fact of death with the Great
Refusal." 6
Douglas Kellner
6. Herbert Marcuse. Eros and Civilization (New York, 1955), pp. 215-216. One might also
consult Marcuse"s essay, "The Ideology of Death," in The Meaning of Death, ed. Feifel (New
York. 1959).

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