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A collection of thoughts and quotes by Theodor W. Adorno on cruelty, hypocrisy, music, philosophy, sociology, evil, success, aesthetics and morality.

51 Great Quotes By Theodor W. Adorno

Quick Facts

Famous As: Philosopher

Born On: September 11, 1903

Died On: August 6, 1969

Born In: Frankfurt, Germany

Died At Age: 65

Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund, who is distinguished as Theodor W. Adorno, was a German sociologist, music composer and philosopher, who lived in the 20th century and is particularly famous for propounding the critical theory of society. He studied sociology, philosophy and psychology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University and is regarded among the most important members of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. His theories were known to be far more advanced than the sociologists of his time and it is not a surprise that Adrorno’s works are still revered by sociologists of all hues across the world. On the other hand, he was a passionate critic of fascism and wrote withering books on the same. Some of the more famous ones include ‘Negative Dialectics’, ‘Dialectic of Enlightenment’ and ‘Minima Moralia’ among others and it is often stated that his works had a profound influence on the development of the ideas of the left wing in Europe. Adorno was a multi-talented man, who was not only among the leading sociologists of his time but also a talented music composer who created number of well received musical compositions during his lifetime. We bring to you a treasure trove of quotes that have been excerpted from his work, books and writings. Read on to explore a compilation of some of the best known quotes by Theodor W. Adorno.

Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.

Theodor W. Adorno

Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality.

Theodor W. Adorno

The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying-glass available.

Theodor W. Adorno

Behind every work of art lies an uncommitted crime

Theodor W. Adorno

People know what they want because they know what other people want.

Theodor W. Adorno

Love you will find only where you may show yourself weak without provoking strength.

Theodor W. Adorno

Dissonance is the truth about harmony.

Theodor W. Adorno

There is no right life in the wrong one.

Theodor W. Adorno

Freedom would be not to choose between black and white but to abjure such prescribed choices.

Theodor W. Adorno

Talent is perhaps nothing other than successfully sublimated rage.

Theodor W. Adorno

Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.

Theodor W. Adorno

Only thought which does violence to itself is hard enough to shatter myth.

Theodor W. Adorno

One must have tradition in oneself, to hate it properly.

Theodor W. Adorno

Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.

Theodor W. Adorno

Horror is beyond the reach of psychology.

Theodor W. Adorno

Very evil people cannot really be imagined dying.

Theodor W. Adorno

The darkening of the world makes the irrationality of art rational: radically darkened art.

Theodor W. Adorno

There is no love that is not an echo.

Theodor W. Adorno

Laughing in the cultural industry is mockery of happiness.

Theodor W. Adorno

What can oppose the decline of the west is not a resurrected culture but the utopia that is silently contained in the image of its decline.

Theodor W. Adorno

True thoughts are those alone which do not understand themselves.

Theodor W. Adorno

Art is the social antithesis of society, not directly deducible from it.

Theodor W. Adorno

To those who no longer have a homeland, writing becomes home

Theodor W. Adorno

The forms of art reflect the history of man more truthfully than do documents themselves.

Theodor W. Adorno

The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them.

Theodor W. Adorno

Of the world as it exists, it is not possible to be enough afraid.

Theodor W. Adorno

Beauty today can have no other measure except the depth to which a work resolves contradictions. A work must cut through the contradictions and overcome them, not by covering them up, but by pursuing them.

Theodor W. Adorno

In the innermost recesses of humanism, as its very soul, there rages a frantic prisoner who, as a Fascist, turns the world into a prison.

Theodor W. Adorno

Art respects the masses, by confronting them as that which they could be, rather than conforming to them in their degraded state.

Theodor W. Adorno

It is not the office of art to spotlight alternatives, but to resist by its form alone the course of the world, which permanently puts a pistol to men's heads.

Theodor W. Adorno

There is no true life within a false life.

Theodor W. Adorno

Even the aesthetic activities of political opposites are one in their enthusiastic obedience to the rhythm of the iron system.

Theodor W. Adorno

The need to let suffering speak is a condition of all truth

Theodor W. Adorno

The thought that murders the wish that fathered it will be overtaken by the revenge of stupidity

Theodor W. Adorno

There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh at.

Theodor W. Adorno

But there is another conclusion: to laugh at logic if it runs counter to the interests of men.

Theodor W. Adorno

If fear and destructiveness are the major emotional sources of fascism, eros belongs mainly to democracy.

Theodor W. Adorno

Jazz is the false liquidation of art — instead of utopia becoming reality it disappears from the picture.

Theodor W. Adorno

One should never begrudge deletions.

Theodor W. Adorno

The very wish to be right, down to its subtlest form of logical reflection, is an expression of the spirit of self-preservation which philosophy is precisely concerned to break down.

Theodor W. Adorno

Ich frchte nicht die Rckkehr der Faschisten in der Maske der Faschisten, sondern die Rckkehr der Faschisten in der Maske der Demokraten.

Theodor W. Adorno

The recent past always presents itself as if destroyed by catastrophes. The expression of history in things is no other than that of past torment.

Theodor W. Adorno

The only true thoughts are those which do not grasp their own meaning

Theodor W. Adorno

The glorification of splendid underdogs is nothing other than the glorification of the splendid system that makes them so.

Theodor W. Adorno

Estrangement shows itself precisely in the elimination of distance between people.

Theodor W. Adorno

In principle everyone, however powerful, is an object.

Theodor W. Adorno

Nowadays most people kick with the pricks.

Theodor W. Adorno

A landscape becomes uglier when an admirer disrupts it with the words 'how beautiful'.

Theodor W. Adorno

A film which followed the code of the Hays Office to the strictest letter might succeed in being a great work of art, but not in a world in which a Hays Office exists.

Theodor W. Adorno