Back to overview Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Critical Horizons
Title of proceedings Critical Horizons


This article articulates the idea of a disclosing critique of society. It starts from the assumption that the curiously organicistic undertones of Adorno’s negative social ontology is part and parcel of a disclosing gesture in his social criticism. It then traces Adorno’s debate with social organicists to the point where the critical theorist’s own concept of society emerges with a claim to be critical in itself. It is argued that this critical claim is enforced by a disclosing gesture. To articulate what is at stake in this gesture of critical disclosure a parallel is drawn, and contrast made, to Emerson’s conception of disclosure as “drawing a circle around a circle.” The relationship between Adorno’s and Emerson’s conceptions of critical disclosure is complex. However, their juxtaposition allows for a distinction between two directions of critical disclosure. It will be argued that disclosing critique of society can be understood as an exemplary dissociation from alienated society by means of a creative association of empirical knowledge, poetic description and philosophical speculation by a critic standing, as it were, with one foot inside and the other outside our form of life.