The essay deals with the reception of Adorno’s method in critical theory’s contemporary forms. Firstly, it explores the Marxist methodological root of Adorno’s theorizing in the concept of exchange (Adorno has slightly modified Marx’s argumentation in Capital by focusing on the exchange process rather than on the value-form). Secondly, the essay criticizes Habermas’ and Honneth’s interpretations of Adorno’s approach: both of them are unable to explicate Adorno’s dialectical materialism. That is why in Habermas and Honneth the critical theory collapses into a form of transcendental thought. Thirdly, against Habermas and Honneth, the essay argues that Sohn-Rethel’s critical Marxist proposal to reconstruct critical theory as a dialectical exposition (Darstellung) of capitalism – the historically determinate society premised upon the totality of ‚real abstractions‘ – provides much better initiation to Adorno’s method.
Adorno, Critical theory, Marxism, Method, Monetary exchange, Real abstraction