Author Archives: James Schmidt

About James Schmidt

Professor of History, Philosophy, and Political Science Boston University

The ”Dialectic of Enlightenment” before Horkheimer and Adorno

About a month ago I finished teaching classes and began a year-long sabbatical. A few weeks later I headed off to Marburg for a conference organized by Sonja Lavaert and Winfried Schröder that sought to place Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic … Continue reading

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The Woman with the Corpse in Her Carriage: Whittaker Chambers, Life Magazine, and the Enlightenment (Part 2)

Back in August, prior to what turned out to be an unexpectedly long hiatus (let’s just say that my day job — which included teaching a new course on the history of the notion of “publicity” — wound up consuming … Continue reading

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“Racket,” “Monopoly,” and the Dialectic of Enlightenment

What follows is my contribution (with a few minor corrections and additions) to a discussion organized by Todd Cronan on nonsite.org of Max Horkheimer’s 1943 manuscript “On the Sociology of Class Relations.”  I am much indebted to Todd for transcribing the … Continue reading

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Tolerance: The Beacon of the Enlightenment (an OpenBook project from Oxford)

Tolerance:  The Beacon of the Enlightenment, a translation of a collection of eighteenth-century texts originally produced by the Société française d’étude du dix-huitième siècle in the wake of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, is currently available as a free .pdf from OpenBook … Continue reading

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A Memo from Walt Whitman to the Donald

With the current semester winding down, I will soon resume posting on a more regular basis. Until then, here is a poem by Walt Whitman that I stumbled across while getting ready for a class I’ve been teaching this term on the topic of catastrophe … Continue reading

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Whittaker Chambers, LIFE Magazine, and the Enlightenment

The final version of Dialectic of Enlightenment, a book that (as I’ve argued in an earlier post) may have less to do with “the Enlightenment” than its critics sometimes assume, was published at the end of 1947 and more or … Continue reading

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Hating Adorno (A Brief Compendium of Nasty Comments)

Shortly after delivering his inaugural lecture as Privatdozent in philosophy at Frankfurt in 1931, Theodor Adorno confessed to his onetime mentor and sometime friend Siegfried Kracauer “I am not entirely clear about what it was that so upset people about … Continue reading

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