Why can man ask about the why, and why must he ask? — Heidegger
The annihilation of the question compels praxis — Adorno
This essay aims to centre a debate between Adorno and Heidegger highlighting their respective concerns for language and ontology. These concerns, more specifically, are framed around two problems Adorno puts to Heidegger: 1) the question of being, and 2) the ontological need. These problems are further grounded in how they function in the ‘actualisation’ or completion of philosophy itself.
Adorno’s remarkable critique of Heidegger lies, first of all, in the way Adorno grants special importance to Heidegger’s work prompted not only by the centrality of Heidegger’s thought, as foremost ontologist in Germany at the time, but in part by the awareness of the deep convergences between their thought, most prominent in their ideas about language, to which Heidegger provided the basis for allowing Adorno to situate his own project developed from an immanent critique. Perhaps against the standard picture of their irreconcilable differences, Adorno even goes to make the characteristically Hegelian concession, in that within every falsity lies a truth, that Heidegger did take us up to a point at which we can understand the dialectical insight into the non-identity within identity but fails to carry this over into the concept of Being itself (ND 120). This, however, is just one instance of many where we see Adorno finding a kernel of truth (or the truth of the “untruth”) within Heidegger’s ideas. Adorno’s practice of immanent criticism means, above all, that he does not seek to propose oppositions between any two philosophical positions whereby we take one side over the other, in this case between ontology and dialectics. This is a resistance against a “philosophy of standpoints” (OD 1) where the transition to dialectics consists in the immanent self-reflection of ontology (4).
Adorno had spent the better part of his career engaging with and critiquing the ideas of Heidegger and he does so, it could be said, for two reasons: of subjecting the foremost ontologist to criticism’s Adorno thinks necessary if philosophy is to have any hope of ‘actualising’; and using Heidegger as the unresponsive antagonist utilised to present Adorno’s own project as substitute. Despite the many criticisms and interrogations, sometimes playful and oftentimes brutal, we witness a different tune in his lecture series Ontology and Dialectics, one that is highly charitable in its exposition and surprisingly affirmative of Heidegger’s ideas with respect to their shared criticism of the sciences and positivistic thinking. It is not important that we characterise Adorno as particularly kind, for we could say that his ‘generosity’ is a reflection of the dialectical method at work. However, we must also take Adorno at his word when he says truth is an extraordinarily fragile thing, that things stand on a knife’s edge and where all the differences matter: “lose your faith that truth clings to massive differences” (43-4).
By focusing primarily on Adorno’s lecture series Ontology and Dialectics – considered here as the most sustained and comprehensive critique of Heidegger’s project – and the opening introduction of Heidegger’s Being and Time, the difference this essay aims to place at the forefront is the problematic role the question plays in their approach to answering for philosophy’s historical actuality. The difference that makes all the difference, shadowing the debate on Being, language, ontology, is the question of praxis. These are important for they put into question Heidegger’s reliance, from Adorno’s perspective, on the question-and-answer function characteristic of idealist philosophy in general presented via the question of Being. On an initial basis, this is consequential, for Adorno, for it ends up identifying thought fully with its objects which follows the idealist pretence that the goal of a philosophical system is one that can think the totality of the actual, the whole. Against such pretension is Adorno’s own project of a negative dialectics – an unwhole system born from the privileging of the non-identical, the materialist remainder of thought. Although this essay will not be an exposition of negative dialectics itself, it remains useful insofar as Adorno asks whether the actuality of philosophy is still possible after the failure of idealist philosophy. The problem of actuality relates to the topic of this essay, namely the debate around the “question of being” and Adorno’s critique of the symptomatic existence of the “ontological need” exemplified by Heidegger.
As Adorno makes clear in his essay “The Actuality of Philosophy” (written 30 years prior to Ontology and Dialectics and much of a precursor to the ideas we see in it), actuality does not refer to a maturation of a general intellectual situation, but to whether an adequate relation can exist between philosophical questions and the possibility of their being answered at all. This is the place from which Adorno’s critique of Heidegger can begin since the question of Being attests to Heidegger’s aim of providing an answer for Being. More so, Adorno is questioning the very possibility of questions at all, namely those that can be totally answered for. Can philosophy provide answers adequate to represent and understand the whole? The history of philosophy is a history of questions and answer, and “only out of the historical entanglement of questions and answers does the question of philosophy’s actuality emerge precisely.” (my italics; AP 124).
One motivation behind Adorno’s thinking on the actuality of philosophy is a rejection of the ideological nature of idealist philosophy’s complicity with its present situation, in that it contributes to a political milieu of a static and unchanging present philosophically justified by the appeal to timeless and eternal truth. This has the consequence of essentialising and eternalising the reality of the present condition, of affirming what already is. Adorno’s concern refers to the way it promotes the bourgeois idea that not only nothing new should or can come into existence but that such an attempt should be seen as a threat to their existence, maintained by the present condition (K 26). Such an ideological function is also present, prior to every answer, in the emphasis on the priority of the question of Being as proposed by Heidegger (AP 120).
Adorno’s wit shines through when he provides an outline to the historical significance of the problem of Being, portrayed as the “ontological need”, commenting how it is necessary to understand the “pathos” that belongs to the question of Being, that is, why people are so enormously excited by it and how it had served so influential even all the way down to radio announcements and toothpaste advertisements (OD 6). If there is truth to this exaggeration it shows Adorno’s point of attack towards the ahistoricism of the question. By doing so, Adorno first genealogically traces the appearance of the question throughout history and, subsequently, uses this emphasis on history by providing a project that aims to make history constitutive of the kind of ‘ontology’ (though he would dismiss the term) appropriate to the actuality of philosophy.
Adorno provides three causes to the ontological need. First, it is a problem internal to the history of philosophy which is best expressed by Kant; secondly, it is a reaction against the modern development of the sciences, or, the question of Being is a philosophical remainder from what can be answered as a genuine philosophical question; lastly, it is a response to the failure of the prospects of Hegelianism, seen to be the pinnacle of what a philosophical system can achieve.
Throughout Ontology and Dialectics Adorno discusses how the question of Being is philosophically and historically symptomatic of a problem that goes back to Kant, if not to the dialectical method of Socrates. Identifying Kant as the source is important because he was the first to systematically explain why reason is necessarily and inevitably motivated by the fundamental problem of ‘being’, of what is, broadly understood. As we learn from Kant, reason is incapable of answering the kinds of questions it gives itself as problems, namely the question of freedom, the soul, God, immortality, and the unconditionality of reason itself, yet Kant remains reluctant, by the criteria set by his own system, to provide an answer to the question he poses elsewhere: how is metaphysics as a natural predisposition possible? (B22). The problem of God, freedom, soul, and so on, relates to this question insofar as Kant sought to explain the “peculiar fate” of reason which burdens itself with questions it cannot dismiss, but which it cannot answer, since they are beyond the capacity of reason itself (Avii). Kant’s answer is found in a section on the “Dialectic” in his Critique of Pure Reason where he investigates these questions presented as transcendental Ideas. Without detouring through the complexities of Kant’s Dialectic, what remains important is how distinctively Heideggerian a question it is. As Adorno puts it, “why the devil should be interested in metaphysics as natural disposition?” (K 37). By invoking the transcendental Ideas Kant provided a palliative attempt to ask the more fundamental question as to the genesis of the fate of reason itself. As a result, Kant takes it as a given that human reason is disposed to ask questions it cannot answer, and we can speculatively show a homology to Heidegger by repeating his own question: why can man ask about the why, and why must he ask? (KPM 199). Heidegger does not comment on Kant’s Dialectic for the most part, yet by pointing to this homology of questions it may show how Heidegger’s analytic of Dasein aims to answer the fate (“destining” in Heidegger’s terminology) or disposition of reason by emphasising the problematic role of the question posed by the interrogation of Being.
If ontology is concerned with understanding what is, or being, then, for Adorno, the “need” for it is reflected in the motivation to answer the fundamental problem reason gives itself but, if epistemologically prohibited, can only remain content in explaining the “preliminary question” of how knowledge is possible at all (OD 7).
For Adorno, “Kant’s philosophy already represents a kind of concentrated disappointment in philosophy that has been inflated and transformed into a mighty system.” The failing of Heidegger’s project is implicit in Kantian philosophy itself to the extent that the impossibility of answering the fundamental question (of being) is transformed into a positive project.
In a wonderfully concise and dense way, Adorno says “the fundamental structure of Heidegger’s philosophy dictates that the impossibility of answering metaphysical questions – and Kant indeed had already recognised this impossibility – is itself substituted for the answer that it fails to provide” (144). For Adorno, as I understand it, Heidegger effectively substitutes the impossibility of answering the kinds of metaphysical questions that Kant prohibited as constitutive of Being itself. That is, of presenting Dasein as existentially confronting the very impossibility of its own existence, as a kind of being for whom Being is a problem for it. This is why Dasein is ultimately a problem for itself in that, to parallel with Kant, the transcendental Idea which reason could neither totally validate nor access is embodied within reason itself. Thus reason is placed in the paradoxical situation of needing to account for itself using the capacities of reason that it consequently lacks. Adorno even ventriloquizes a retort by Heidegger stating the fact “that I cannot give this answer is actually the answer itself.”
In a preliminary note to the third edition of his Kantbook, Heidegger says: “The problem for Metaphysics, namely, the question concerning beings as such in their totality, is what allows Metaphysics as Metaphysics to become a problem. The expression “The problem of Metaphysics” has two senses” (KPM xxi). This reveals, in a rather concise way, what is at issue for Heidegger, which turns out to be a confrontation or “interrogation” with a problem which compels Dasein to provide an answer. However, to be more specific, it is not Being that presents itself as a problem but the problem of the problem itself, that is, the problem of being compelled to give an answer, to ask “why?”, and where Dasein relates to Being respondent to the problem. This can explain why Heidegger introduces his fundamental ontology in his Kantbook defined as the metaphysics of Dasein that is required for metaphysics to be possible. The task is to inquire about Dasein’s own possibility for inquiring (1). For Heidegger, the ‘why’ already has a reference to Being. The reason Dasein asks ‘why’ is because of its relation to the problem of Being, of Being presenting itself as a problem for the kinds of beings who cannot help consider Being as a problem. Because it is Dasein who asks the question, Heidegger thereby links language and speech to Being. And although we may consider ‘Dasein’ as inseparable from the ‘why’, although we can accept that the problem of the why is a problem of Dasein, contra Heidegger is it not about. Adorno’s ideas on the historical development of language offers a new way for thinking about the enigma of the ‘why’ against Heidegger’s insistence that metaphysics occurs necessarily as Dasein (K 162). Here Heidegger’s implicit attempt to answer Kant’s problem of metaphysical disposition becomes evident, for what compels human reason towards metaphysics is to be explained as constituting human reason itself.
Heidegger does not cease to remind us that Man is in essential relationship with metaphysics as concerning the essence of Being. In Introduction to Metaphysics, Heidegger expands on the role questioning takes regarding the status of Being by reminding us of the first, most originary and deepest, question of Being: why are there beings at all instead of nothing? Two reasons can be provided as to why Heidegger privileges this mode of questioning: 1) the question (of Being) is the question of all true questions (IM 7) insofar as it is the ground upon which we may understand anything else, and 2) the question distinctively (uniquely) relates Dasein with being as a whole. Because it is Dasein who asks the question, it is Dasein who has this unique relation kept open (or mediated?) by the question. Language and speech links Dasein and Being. And Heidegger goes further, asking what grounds the why-question itself, or, why ask why? (5).
This opens up a fallacy Adorno accuses Heidegger of glorifying in that Heidegger hypostasizes this very impossibility of the question of Being, prioritising the question over the answer, and turns this impossibility into a positive interpretation of human existence (OD 145). Where there is no answer to provide, the question assumes a “dignity of truth” (147). But Adorno himself is not averse to the role of question(ing) in philosophy, and even gives it special status in opposition to the sciences, going so far as to hint at the possible project of investigating the distinctive structure of questioning in the history of philosophy and one not plagued by the spell of Heideggerianism, in which every question is a question of Being. A theory of the question sensitive to a historical and dialectical approach. In line with the rest of his project, Adorno, like Kant, forbids the fundamental questions from being (philosophically) answered at all. Because for Adorno dialectics and language is non-identical, no concept is adequate to the task of sufficiently representing its object, just like how no answer is sufficient to the question. For reasons that are grounded in the philosophy of history (his natural-historical ‘ontology’), Adorno’s own solution to both the problem of Being and the identity between questions and answers is extrapolated to a resolving of philosophy itself through actualisation as provided by praxis. In keeping with the spirit of his answer 30 years prior to Ontology and Dialectics, the answer to the philosophical question takes shape not in the form of the concept (solely) but through praxis. Praxis eliminated the need for answering the question. In this way, Adorno provides a political answer to an otherwise philosophical need for ontology (itself symptomatically political). Or rather, in a Wittgensteinian manner, praxis therapeutically eliminates the question itself.
The problem of the question is that it assumes the “possibility of its answer that being itself is appropriate to thought and available to it” (AP 120). Not only does the question presume that it can be answered, but that the answer, presented in the guise of an object, can be made identical with a pre-established question available to it through a concept. That is, there becomes an object waiting to be moulded with the empty form of the concept. The question supposes that the answer it seeks can be examined, that what it looks for does not exceed the grasp of the questioning. In Being and Time, Heidegger describes the question as a unique kind of ‘seeking’ where the possibility of getting an answer is expected because of the form of the question itself. Because the question is a seeking, it needs prior guidance from what it seeks. This is how, for Heidegger, the meaning of Being must already be available to us in some way (BT 4). In his later works, Heidegger can be seen to reformulate the seeking of the question by positioning thinking closer to that of the poet, who takes the role of the seer: “A seer has always seen already. Having seen already he sees in advance” (OBT 260). Adorno views the idea of Being as “nothing more than an empty form-principle whose archaic dignity helps to cover any content whatsoever” (AP 120). This is the charge that the concept of Being is a general one, where any concept can support it without exhaustion and where Being is merely the totality of beings. But Adorno is quick to mention that Heidegger was aware of this problem, and indeed he was, considering that the “forgetting of Being”, for Heidegger of Being and Time, was precisely an issue of this sort, of failing to think Being as distinct from the totality of beings. This is why the question is, to begin with, important. Because the question has been lost, and the destruction of history is one way for Heidegger to “retrieve it”. However, Adorno’s main point of attack reflects the tautological nature of the question itself. And again, Adorno reflects on how Heidegger understood this problem, but neglects to investigate the presupposition characteristic of the circular argument within his idea of the priority of Being. The contention involves the way the priority of the question of Being is presupposed by the ontological originality of Being. Heidegger emphasises that the question of Being precedes that of the being of beings, with which the sciences limit their investigations to, yet the centrality of the fundamental question of Being already implies a decision as to its priority made and presupposed in the very form of the question itself. Although this is a problem acknowledged by Heidegger but subsequently avoided, Adorno goes to agree with him that “the task for philosophy is not to escape this circle but to enter it at the right point” (OD 16). Any philosophy with a “mania for foundations” is, for Adorno ultimately tautological in its presupposing of what is in need of explaining, and explaining what is already simultaneously posited.
Heidegger defines Dasein as the creature whose being is essentially determined by its ability to speak, and whose discoursing acts as the “guideline” for arriving at structures of beings we encounter in discussion (BT 24). Speech is characteristic of the Dialectic as a mode of enquiry famously performed by Socrates. Yet Heidegger goes so far as to say the Dialectic, exhibited by Plato and Socrates, is an embarrassment and superfluous, and it wasn’t until Aristotle, for Heidegger, that speech (Logos) can be placed on a more fundamental level. Logos, variously translated as speech, discourse, or reason, doesn’t only refer to discourse but, further, “what is being talked about” (30). Logos reveals something through speech, for the speaker. “What is said should be derived from what is being talked about” (31). Speech relates Dasein existentially to Being through the question. Questioning, for Heidegger, has an ‘aboutness’ to it – “what is interrogated [Befragtes] also belongs to questioning.” We are always already involved in an understanding of Being because Being is already available to Dasein in a certain way as formulated by the question. As Dasein, we do not know what Being is, only that we understand the isness of the ‘is’ in “what is being?” (4). For Heidegger, speech accounts for the pre-ontological status of Dasein that apprehends the objective presence (present-at-hand) of beings. Accordingly, and initially, being is interpreted as presence, thus initiating Heidegger’s project in Being and Time to investigate Dasein through the function of time.
Adorno provides a historical critique of Heidegger’s reliance on speech as uniquely relating to Being by, like Heidegger, trace back to Aristotle the relation between ontology and language by showing how Aristotle’s use of “categories” in his Metaphysics is tied up with speech itself, for category signifies “nothing more than ‘in accordance with speech’.” Adorno then goes to show how Kant later adopts Aristotle’s categories with few modifications, which had the result of relating language to being itself: “the pure forms of speech themselves are supposed to be the forms that say something about being itself” (OD 35-7). Thus, it is no stretch to say how Heidegger comes to adopt this relation between language and being when he goes to posit Dasein as the being for whom Being presents itself as problem, and this problem presents itself in the form of the question, of language. This is the moment when speech and Being have a direct compatibility with each other.
An ambiguity is then formed between a concept of Being (as one of identifying an object under a concept) and Being itself (immediate relation, via speech or language, between speaking-being (Dasein) and Being itself). We can agree here with Adorno that we cannot speak about Being without substituting Being for a concept of Being. Even the word Being signifies something that is not Being itself, for, as Adorno notes, this would be a kind of immediate relation we do not have. But the kind of ‘immediacy’ Heidegger seems to aim for is not between concept and object but between an ‘existential’ (as pertaining to the very nature of the speaker themself) question and the problem of what *is*, Being itself. Although this does not tell us what, exactly, Being is, it nevertheless gets us closer to a relation that is essentially problematic, and it is the nature of the problem (the disposition of reason) which relates, at least minimally, Dasein to Being. And so, the answer Heidegger has to provide is the question of the problematic of Being, of the problematic of the question itself.
In Heidegger’s later post-war writings, the problem of Being and the consequences of its forgetting underwent some significant changes from the time he wrote Being and Time. One of those changes puts into place the necessary relation between the essence of Being and of its being forgotten, for it puts into new perspective the “destiny” to which a new ‘man’ can arrive and understand the enigma of Being. Or further, that the essence of man rests in thinking the truth of Being (BT 281). This is important for the way Heidegger re-emphasises the importance of language as it relates to the essence of Being as to be found in the true meaning of ancient Greek thought or “saying”. In Heidegger’s text “Anaximander’s saying”, we see most clearly his presentation of the problem of Being as it relates to language, translation, and the latent political actualisation or “destining” of the world-historical truth of Greek thought. The text is an explication of a short fragment by Anaximander which aims to reveal what it is “saying” understood in terms of the truth of the language of the Greeks and their expression of Being, as opposed to a ‘historiographically’ mediated “opinion”. This is the first instance where language (of Being) binds any two historically remote periods. Such an attempt to understand what Anaximander is saying is complicated, for Heidegger, via the process of translation. This is how Heidegger’s reliance on original terminology in all its etymological significance can be seen as an attempt to preserve the truth of Being.
The reason for the need for ontology in Heidegger’s case can be explained in his analysis of the forgetting of Being.
Being forgets itself. This is what Heidegger effectively says. Being is concealed, both historically and constitutively, from those who try to pursue it. Because Heidegger tries to locate the primordiality of Being within Greek thought, he ascribes to this time a destiny to which, like Nietzsche’s “Overman”, a unique kind of people will come to understand the truth of Being as an epoch that relates together the past of Greek thought to a future epoch which embodies this Greek destiny of Being. The essence of Being is at once concealing and illuminating, and any attempt to unconceal it darkens the light of Being: “by revealing itself in being, being withdraws” (BT 253-4). The forgetting of Being is re-thought in terms of historically necessary misinterpretation. Throughout this history, the “destiny of the Greeks awaits for what will become of its seeds.” In connection to Adorno, we see Heidegger position the problem of Being in terms of the completion of metaphysics and the actualisation of its world-historical truth, similar in vain to the Hegelian Geist. A new world-history that effectively doubles as the pre-history of the ancient Greek world. Everything considered, Heidegger wants nothing more than to return to what already was or is. The question of Being finds its answer already given in the ancient world. The epochality of Being reveals Heidegger’s answer to the ontological need. For the need really is to get back to a kind of thinking that is violated by the historical developments of the sciences and technology. In this sense, Heidegger might agree with Adorno’s criticism that the focus on Being is a reaction against positivist science and remains as a philosophical remainder. Yet Heidegger’s is a reaction tout court. The problem of Being is essentially that remainder which has been omitted from the history of thinking itself. The stakes at which Heidegger is dealing with are explicitly shown when he says, “in an exaggerated way which nevertheless touches on the truth”, the “destiny of the West rests on the translation of the word ἐόν (being [seiend]), given that the translation [Ubersetzung] is a crossing over [Ubersetzung] to the truth of what comes to language in the ἐόν” (260).
Adorno’s rejection of Heidegger’s ontological need for retrieving the forgotten question of Being is by showing how its formulation was a uniquely modern reaction against the development of scientific research and positivist thinking. Both Adorno and Heidegger agree on this point, that a critique of positivist thinking rests on a resistance against the reification and objectivising of the world into facts. For Adorno, Heidegger’s need to regress to the Greeks is an effect of formulating questions that are authentically philosophical away and against any attempt to answer it scientifically. And it is here that the problem of Being emerges as a “remainder” of philosophical enquiry against the dominance of positivism. Moreover, the ontological need is positioned against the backdrop of the failure of Hegelianism, and where the stagnation of philosophy after Hegel was fulfilled once again as an exciting new attempt to move philosophy beyond the confines of the study of particular branches, itself an effect of the institutionalisation of philosophy. “The ontological need is an index of lack”, says Adorno (OD 104), left there not only from the failure of Hegel to fulfil his promise of thinking totality, but also of correlating with the consciousness of society, instead of “lagging behind”. If philosophy is to promise anything, and we see this in Adorno’s comments on praxis, it is to actualise along with the development of society.
What is preventing philosophy’s actualisation is, among other things, the problem of the status of ‘man’ or the individual. Because the problem of Being concerns, fundamentally, the question of the human being, a subsidiary question is (archaically) posed: what or who is man? Adorno, directs another point of attack towards the regurgitation of the idea of ‘man’ as found in Heidegger but also, says Adorno, the day-to-day life of marketing ads which “proves” that man himself does not exist. The lack involved in the ontological need refers, in part, to filling with meaning what already lacks meaning – life itself. Although Adorno is not making the claim life is meaningless, he is pointing to the phenomena that philosophising continues insofar as people substitute the emptiness of life for concepts (OD 150). Fatalistically perhaps, Adorno says philosophy itself ultimately becomes a kind of market to which people are more easily deceived about their own loss of humanity within the concepts they use. The failure of philosophy to actualise effectuates its own perpetuation as compensation. Such a position presses stronger in Adorno’s claim that humanity is not identical to the concept of freedom, for the concept merely puts in place what we have essentially lost. From this we see an essential difference between Adorno and Heidegger concerning the actuality of philosophy based on this question of man. It is only through an elucidation of Dasein and Being that philosophy, for Heidegger, can be realised and metaphysics ‘ends’. Yet for Adorno, philosophy is there to conceal the fundamental loss of man itself, in which case the attempt to end metaphysics through it is mere deception, a philosophical and ideological veil.
Adorno’s comments on the loss of man nicely relate back to the Heideggerian need to provide an answer for Kant’s question: how is metaphysics as a natural predisposition possible? In their own ways, it can be shown that Adorno and Heidegger are both implicitly responding to this question as it concerns not only investigating the nature of the human being but also the actualisation of philosophy. For it seems that what Adorno and Heidegger have in common, above all, is their shared reliance on the question of the individual as it relates to the development of an idealised social life. This essay accepts as convincing Adorno’s critique of Heidegger’s project in pointing to both its philosophical and, importantly, ideological failures, but the question remains open as to what a historically and dialectically informed investigation can do to answer the fundamental problem of the “fate of reason”. To ask such a question is to provide an answer for what is, which Adorno’s negative ontology rejects for an ‘ontology of false things’, namely of what is not. But it remains to be said whether a picture of humanity and philosophy’s historical actuality can only be considered via negativa, and whether the fate of reason is to be shown as an effect of historical determinations (not unique to capitalism, for its genealogy can be traced to the beginning of philosophy itself) or if it is ‘internal’, that is to say ontologically and psychically, to thinking beings themselves. To repeat Adorno we continue to ask, because we must ask, what is the need of philosophy itself if not to compensate for its perpetual failure? This is the point Adorno’s own work pivots on, in that we cannot drop philosophical enquiry for the blind sake of political practice, instead we must think praxis alongside philosophy, but we also have to resist the need for philosophising as compensation for the failure of praxis. Is need constituted or constitutive of man? How do we get out of this deadlock?
- CPR = Kant, Immanuel. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Critique of Pure Reason. 15th ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
- ND = Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. Dennis Redmond, (Suhrkamp Verlag, 1970; online, 2001)
- OD = Theodor Adorno, Ontology and Dialectics, trans. Nicholas Walker, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2019)
- AP = Theodor Adorno, “The Actuality of Philosophy”, Telos Press Publishing, (1997, vol. 31): 120-133, doi: 10.3817/0377031120
- K = Theodor Adorno, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Rodney Livingstone, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001)
- KPM = Martin Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. 5th ed., trans. Richard Taft, (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1997)
- IM = Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, 2nd ed. trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt, (London: Yale University Press, 2014)
- BT = Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010)
- OBT = Martin Heidegger, Off The Beaten Track, trans. Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
 Echoing Kant’s maturation of reason in “What is Enlightenment”?
 Does this also mean that the question of philosophy’s own actuality cannot be answered for?