Graduate Seminar:

Adorno and Heidegger

Fall 2010
Michigan State University

Christian Lotz



Tentative Schedule (last UPDATE: November 03, 2010)



1 Sep 2 Adorno, Heidegger, and the Question of Philosophy Adorno, The Actuality of Philosophy; Adorno, Notes on Philosophical Thinking (pdf) Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, section on Being and Thinking (pdf) Lotz    
2 Sep 9 Thinking and Praxis Adorno, Thinking and Praxis (pdf); Adorno, Subject and Object Heidegger, Letter on Humanism Lotz    

Subject, Object, Thinghood

3 Sep 16 Thinking Adorno, Thinking and Praxis; Adorno, Subject and Object Heidegger, What is Called Thinking, part II, section 1-6 Michael Michael (Heidegger on thinking)  
4 Sep 23 Thinking Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Introduction Heidegger, What is Called Thinking, part II, section 1-6 Esme Esme (Adorno on thinking) Recommended Reading: Heidegger, What is Called Thinking, part II, section 7-11
5 Sep 30 Kant, Object, Thinghood Adorno, Lectures on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, sections on thinghood (pdf) Heidegger; What is a thing? First Part, pp.1-65 (pdf) Terry Terry (Adorno on Kant) Recommended reading: Heidegger, What is a Thing, pp. 119-132
  Oct 7 (moved to Oct 15) no class no class no class      
6 Oct 14 Kant, Object, Thinghood Adorno, Negative Dialectics, part II, pp.134-166 Heidegger; What is a thing? First Part, pp.1-65 (pdf) Anna Anna (Heidegger on thinghood)  
7 Oct 15 (at my place) Kant, Object, Thinghood Adorno, Negative Dialectics, part II, pp.183-210   Dustin Dustin (Adorno on object+materialism) Recommended reading: Heidegger, Kant's Thesis on Being

Technology, Dwelling, Modernity

8 Oct 21 Technology and Rationality Feenberg-Ian Thomson exchange in Inquiry (pdf per email), Feenberg-Thompson exchange (pdf) Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology Mladjo Guest: Paul Thompson and Kyle Whyte (MSU)  
9 Oct 28 Technology and Rationality Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, Culture Industry chapter Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology; Heidegger, The Thing     Recommended reading: Heidegger, remarks on technology in The Ister (pdf)
10 Oct 30, 9am Seminar with Karsten Harries   Heidegger, Building, Dwelling, Thinking Steven Guest: Karsten Harries (Yale) Recommended Reading: Adorno, Remarks on Functionalism (pdf)
  Nov 4 no class no class no class      
11 Nov 11 Metaphysics and Modernity Adorno, Negative Dialectics, III (pp.361-381) Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking Andrew Andrew (Adorno on metaphysics after Auschwitz)  

No class sessions

  Nov 18 no class no class no class      
  Nov 25, Thanksgiving no class no class no class      
  Dec 2 no class no class no class     Draft of research paper due

Weekend Retreat, Dec 3-5 ------ DOWNLOAD FULL PROGRAM (PDF)

12-17 Dec 3-Dec 5 Reification and Language in Heidegger and Adorno see schedule see schedule      

Paper and exam

  Dec 12           Paper due
  Dec 16           Oral exams (paper conference)

Class Meetings: 
Days: TH 
Time: 7 PM - 10 PM
Place: 530 South Kedzie Hall

517.355.4490 [dept.])
Place: 501 S. Kedzie Hall (part of room 503, front office)
Hours: TBA

Other Contact:
Home Phone: please ask

You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (and in front of my office)

Teaching Assistant: no teaching assistants

Course Description

In this seminar we will work out a confrontation of Adorno and Heidegger. Instead of focusing on Adorno's critique of Heidegger and his school in his Jargon of Authenticity we will develop the confrontation out of Adorno's Negative Dialectics and brief essays he wrote on epistemological questions. Unfortunately, Adorno's lecture course entitled "Ontology and Dialectics" has not yet been translated. We will not extensively deal with Adorno's and Heidegger's conceptions of modernity, which is usually the center of literature on both philosophers; rather, we will focus on the following topics: thinking, object/thing, and language. It is expected that students who don't have at least some basic knowledge of Adorno and Heidegger intensively read background material.  Expect difficult readings.

Special dates:

Oct 15 or 16: extra session (in exchange for Oct 7)
Oct 23/24: Workshop in social and political thought with Donna Harraway, Andrew Feenberg, and Paul Thompson
Oct 29: Dept. lecture, Prof. Karsten Harries (Yale)
Oct 30: Text-Seminar with Prof. Harries
Dec 3-5: Retreat

Course Goals

Given the complexity of Adorno's and Heidegger's work, it is impossible to discuss these thinkers as a whole. It is hoped for that we will get a clearer picture of Adorno's and Heidegger's conceptions of thinking, of objecthood/thinghood, and of language. Instead of following the lead of Adorno's ideology critique (esp. as it is presented in his Jargon of Authenticity), we will focus on topics that both of them inherit from the German traditions of transcendental philosophy and idealism. Given these topics, it should be clear that we will try to look beyond the ideological and intellectual differences between critical theory and fundamental ontology.

Required Texts

You can make copies of essays that we discuss in class if you do not want to buy the editions

  • Adorno, Negative Dialectics
  • Adorno, Adorno Reader
  • Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment
  • Adorno, Critical Models (selections per pdf)
  • Heidegger, Basic Writings
  • Heidegger, Pathmarks (Kant's Thesis on Being)
  • Heidegger, Language, Poetry, Thought
  • Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics? (selections per pdf)
  • Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology
  • Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?


Check Kelly's seminar on the later Heidegger (

Course Requirements

  • 1 presentation/concept paper (1500 words)
  • 1 protocol (600-900 words)
  • 1 research paper (around 4000 words)
  • 1 oral exam (30 minutes)


We will use the following translation of and reading guide to Adorno's ND:

Protocol (German tradition)

The class protocol should cover our discussion in class. Protocols should have a length of 3 pages (around 900 words), and they will in and outside of the classroom force us to have an ongoing reflection on our texts that we study for class. They can also include problems or questions that the writers had either with our class discussion or with the texts itself, but above all protocols should cover what I lectured about in class and what we discussed afterwards. Protocols should clarify and discuss selected issues in question. Protocols have to be sent out to other students by Tuesdays. I'll radically mark down late turn ins. The student who wrote the protocol will address questions during the first 20 minutes of the next class meeting, and he/she will lead the class discussion.


Each student will be responsible for one class and for working out an introductory presentation, which should function as a platform for our discussions. Please focus on one or two aspects of the reading; desired length of presentations: 30 minutes. Each presenter must distribute copies of his/her write-up by Tuesday before class (no more than 1500 words).

General Remark

Given that this is a graduate seminar, I expect self-motivation, autonomy, as well as self-responsibility. The attendance requires the willingness to intensively study the text selected for class.

Research Paper

The class essay should be well researched and should present a substantial reflection on some parts of the material discussed in class. I expect excellent papers in regard to research, form, and content. I will fail papers that do not comply with formal standards (footnotes, literature, etc.).


Dec 3-5, Ralph McMullan Conference Center, arrival: Friday, 12pm, departure: Sunday, 1pm; Prof. Hedrick (MSU) will join us on Friday; Prof. Vessey (GVSU) will join us on Saturday; Prof. Painter (WCC) will join us for the whole weekend.

Class Paper

The class essay should be well researched and should present a substantial reflection on one of the key concepts discussed in class. I expect excellent papers in regard to research, form, and content. I will fail papers that do not comply with formal standards (footnotes, literature, etc.)

Paper Conference/Oral Examination

After you have turned in your paper we will discuss your paper in the form of an oral examination (30 minutes).

Course Evaluation

You will be evaluated on the basis of:

1 oral exam pass/fail - 10 points
1 presentation/concept paper (1500 words) 20 points
1 protocol (600-900 words) pass/fail - 10 points
1 research paper, up to 4000 words, conference paper style 60 points
  100 points


4.0 (=A) 100 - 93
3.5 92 - 87
3 (=B) 86 - 82
2.5 81 - 77
2 (=C) 76 - 72
1.5 7165
1.0 (=D) 6460
0.0 < 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria

Check out this page for grading criteria, example of assignments, etc.

Helpful information about oral presentations, paper writing and plagiarism

Click here to find help on your presentations and your writing

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn't very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU's library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU's writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (Plagiarism)

The following statement of University policy addresses principles and procedures to be used in instances of academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records, herein after referred to as academic misconduct. [See General Student Regulation 1.00, Protection of Scholarship and Grades.]: download document (pdf)

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that "The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.

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