Nonidentity, Materialism and Truth in Adorno's Negative Dialectics


  • Terrence Thomson


Speculative Philosophy, Adorno, Aristotle, Hegel, Materialism, Truth, Non-identity


The primary concern of the present paper is to answer the question, ‘What is the relation between non-identity and truth in Adorno's Negative Dialectics?' It employs Adorno's articulation of the ‘outside' of philosophy (á la Aristotle's first matter), which underpins the need for conceptual constellations if we are to mimetically examine the non-conceptual thing. Following this a further question presents itself: how do these engagements inflict a critical mark on the Hegelian method of totalization – the dialectic of truth? The essay ends with an analysis of two films, Metropolis and Primal Fear, aimed at separating out Hegelian conceptions of truth from Adornian unresolved truth; the former aimed at a universal, the latter indicative of a non-identical aporia. We must conclude with the possibility that to leave the unresolved nature of non-identity unresolved for truth is the ontological challenge par excellence that presented itself to Adorno's negative dialectics as it presents itself to post-Kantian continental philosophy today.

Author Biography

Terrence Thomson

Currently studying for an M.A in European Philosophy at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP). My B.A was in Fine Art obtained from Central Saint Martins in 2010.

I am 29, living and working in London.




How to Cite

Thomson, T. (2017). Nonidentity, Materialism and Truth in Adorno’s Negative Dialectics. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 13(1), 343–360. Retrieved from