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Love, Actually? Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, and the Possibility of Love in Capitalist Modernity

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

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Authors

Spiers, Robbie 

Abstract

Love is not regularly associated with the Frankfurt School. Theodor Adorno and Erich Fromm are not regularly associated with each other. Yet, when we bring these Critical Theorists’ works together, a rich discussion of love does in fact emerge. Love is viewed by both as a dialectical force, bringing two subjects into union while also allowing them to cultivate their individual selves. Fromm and Adorno operate within the same Marxist philosophical tradition, meaning that they share concerns about the increasing commodification of love and the disappearance of genuine, spontaneous relationships between people. The similarities are not endless, however, and important differences between them remain: Fromm, with his optimism and his concern for existential issues, maintains a belief in revolutionary political change and high spiritual ideals which the materialist pessimist Adorno resists as comfortable illusions. Through this philosophical encounter, two different faces of Critical Theory arise, one oriented towards an analysis of the present and the other turned towards hopes for the future.

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Journal Title

New German Critique

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0094-033X
1558-1462

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Publisher

Duke University Press

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Sponsorship
AHRC (via University of Oxford) (AH/R012709/1)