How do Adorno and Horkheimer see the Odyssey as an allegory of the Enlightenment?


Mind Maps relating to Adorno and Horkheimer's interpretation of Homer's Odyssey
Bobby I
Mind Map by Bobby I, updated more than 1 year ago
Bobby I
Created by Bobby I almost 8 years ago

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How do Adorno and Horkheimer see the Odyssey as an allegory of the Enlightenment?
  1. Adorno & Horkheimer's view of The Englightenment
    1. Never succeeded, slipped back into 'Immaturity' through cultural media brainwashing/our instrumental reasoning
      1. "The Enlightenment successfully battled the mythological world in which it found itself, but, say Horkheimer and Adorno, it reverted to myth"[Bowman P8] - i.e. a new myth arose after the defeating the old one due to the conformist tendencies of instrumental reason
        1. A+H are 'Western Marxists', and so would consider capitalist system to be the root of problems i.e. why we use instrumental reasoning
          1. "Myth changes into Enlightenment which reverts to Myth" [Bowman P8]
            1. This is a large part of the reason why A+H chose the Odyssey, they see Odysseus as the early bourgeois prototype who believes he has conquered literal myth, but despite escaping the myth of his voyage he returns to the myth of his life at home (Ithaca is not Enlightened/autonomus)
              1. So this is to say that in the same way that Odysseus believed he was freeing himself from myth, he was actually returning to another, albeit more subtle one. This is the same situation A+H believe we find ourselves in today.
                1. "When he, inexorable, returns home, the inexorable force he commands itself triumphs as the judge and avenger of the legacy of the powers from which he escaped" (Dialectic, 48)
                  1. "The identity of the self is so much a function of the unidentical, of dissociated, unarticulated myths, that it must derive itself from those myths" (Dialectic, 48)
                    1. Odysseus, upon returning home, dissociates himself from the myths in which he lives!
              2. "But the account given of them there, the unity wrested from the diffuse sagas, is also a description of the retreat of the individual from mythic powers" (Dialectic, 46)
                1. Odysseus is retreating from the world of mythology, trying to escape the brutal oppression of the gods
                2. "The opposition of enlightenment to myth is expressed in the opposition of the surviving individual ego to multifarious fate" (Dialectic, 46)
                3. 'Culture Industry' - The Enlightenment as mass deception
                  1. We believe we are free and 'mature' but this is an illusion (albeit more inconspicuous than it was before)
                    1. the 'industry' says it provides for people's needs, but these needs are determined by the industry!! not the people. [Harris 7]
                      1. This illusion of choice and freedom makes us just as subsurvient as we we were before 'The Englightenment'
                      2. Instrumental Reason
                        1. "The Enlightenment created new social arrangements, but in time they became as ossified as the old ones because of the conformist tendencies of instrumental reason" [Bowman p8]
                          1. Instrumental reason leads us back to immaturity, (inevitable cycle?)
                          2. The capacity to select appropriate means to our ends, whatever they happen to be (i.e. to use reason as an instrument to guide us in attaining our ends
                            1. As opposed to objective reason - concerned with the 'ends' themselves, asking whether out ends are rational, whether they express our deepest needs and desires, out longing for freedom. [Bowman p6] - tells us what our ends should be, what the world should be.
                              1. A+H believe that objective reason was undermined by the enlightenmnent, whereas it should be used to conversely advance the cause of enlightenment (find quote, CH 1 of Dialectic)
                                1. The goal of enlightenment is to 'conquer' nature (which subjects us to disease, death, etc), which is the same goal as myth (to understand/conquer nature)
                                  1. Evidence that the Enlightenment is just another myth?
                                2. A+H believe our ends are imposed on us from without
                          3. Frankfurt School
                            1. Influences from Marx, Nietsche, Hegel, Kant and Freud
                              1. Therefore Kant on Enlightenment is very relevant! (a lot there about Odysseus as 'enlightened man', or perhaps not so enlightened
                              2. 'Western Marxists', were against what the Russians were doing so classed themselves as a different kind of Marxist. [Bowman p3]
                                1. This is probably why A+H's approach to E was implicitly anti-capitalist (anti-culture), i.e. Marxist
                              3. Teleological Influences [Lewis p24]
                                1. WWII
                                  1. The would naturally resent the Enlightenment because of the holocaust (what it has done to us)
                                    1. Dialectic "suffered from at atmosphere of gloom" because of this situation [Bowman p6]
                                  2. "The Enlightenment must examine itself" (Dialectic, XV)
                                    1. Odyssey as an Allegory for the Enlightenment
                                    2. Sirens Episode
                                      1. Odysseus as modern man
                                        1. Believes he is conquering 'immaturity' (as Kant would call it)
                                          1. "Though he is powerless, no part of the sea remains unknown to him, and so his powerlessness also indicates that the mighty powers will be put down" (Dialectic, 46)
                                            1. Odysseus is on a quest to become enlightened, and seemingly against the odds (despite prophecy, but Polyphemus does curse him with death) he makes it home.
                                              1. "
                                            2. His combat with nature
                                              1. "Odysseus loses himself in order to find himself; the estrangement from nature that he brings about is realized in the process of the abandonment to nature he contends with in each adventure" (Dialectic, 48)
                                            3. Everything on page 47!
                                            4. “The adventures of Odysseus are all dangerous temptations removing the self from its logical course.” (Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 47). How do Adorno and Horkheimer see the Sirens episode in Book 12 of the Odyssey as an allegory of the Enlightenment? What, in your opinion, does their reading of the Sirens episode tell us about the Enlightenment?
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