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Honors Thesis-Unrestricted

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Frank Schalow


The last half of the twentieth century into the twenty-first century, in the West, has been referred to as postmodern. Postmodernity represents a stage in a society after having passed through a nihilism, itself produced by the universal commodification inherent in late stage capitalism. Here we explore the progress of devaluation through Adorno’s negative dialects to ascertain the potential for truth and authenticity in the object. Informing Adorno’s negative dialectics, were Kant, Hegel, and Marx. Through their dialectics, Adorno postulated the effect of commodities, as objects, within the first part of the 20th century, and how the lack of potential for truth and freedom in these objects anticipated the nihilism of both the late capitalism period, into the postmodern period. This nihilism itself, was anticipated by Nietzsche. Further, this entire focus on and influence of commodities on the individual, from the early twentieth century to the present is referred to as the commodity structure and itself can be equated to Heidegger’s falling prey. Once the subject has had the valuation or meaning of their lives stripped via this universal commodification of the commodity structure, this paper will argue through the works of Heidegger and Nietzsche and the role of the aesthetic, only then can the subject in the postmodern period reclaim qua participation in one’s own becoming towards both truth and authenticity, as well as freedom.


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