The Note on the Humanities and Education

(translation, abstract and notes by Vitalii Bryzhnik)


  • Theodor W. Adorno



humanities, education, University, scientific discipline, student, scientific ideal, scientific thinking, reified consciousness, spirit


The article “The Note on the Humanities and Education” by the german social philosopher Theodor Adorno, a representative of the critical theory of society, was published in 1962. In this philosophical-educational work Theodor Adorno continued the preliminary theme of his critical consideration of the unity of the elements of the culture of the industrial-mass society, which contribute to establishment in social life of industrial-mass ideology as completely dominant. In his philosophical-educational works Theodor Adorno also carried out a critical attack on the school and university education of post-war West Germany. According to the philosopher, this education remains traditionally unchanged, which makes it impossible for any serious anti-ideological transformation in its system. Such changes because of updated educational process could have contributed to the upbringing of a young citizen, a conscious and active participant in democratic transformations in the post-totalitarian society. However, according to Theodor Adorno, the educational process in the unreformed university remains controlled primarily of the agents of the scholarly consciousness, which in no way contributes to the anti-ideological upbringing of students.  In this work Theodore Adorno noted the special significance of the humanities, which in German are translated as “sciences about the spirit”, which traditionally present in German university education. In his opinion, the humanities, as the sciences about the spirit, because of the prevalence in the educational process of the “dictates of the scientific ideal” lost the presence in itself of a factor of the individual human spirit. Theodor Adorno called of the signs of the presence of such a phenomenon in university education: the absolute priority of scientific research among humanities study, the lack of personal pedagogical work of a university teacher with a student of humanities, the tendency of struggle of the agent of the reified scientific consciousness against any different knowledge, the unity of the social and theoretical conformism of the agent of that conceptual consciousness. As in his other philosophical works, Theodore Adorno proposed to perceive of personal activity of a human, what is due to the strength of his individual spirit, the natural factor that is capable of conducting a continuous personal struggle with negative phenomena in education, which ideologically influence to the educational process at the university and in education in general.


Аdorno Theodor W. Notiz über Geisteswissenschaft und Bildung // Gesammelte Schriften, Band 10.2: Kulturkritik und Gesellschaft II: Eingriffe. Stichworte. Anhang. – Fr. am M., Hessen : Suhrkamp Verlag Gmbh & Co. KG, 1977. – S. 495-498.


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How to Cite

Adorno, T. W. (2019). The Note on the Humanities and Education: (translation, abstract and notes by Vitalii Bryzhnik). Filosofiya Osvity. Philosophy of Education, 24(1), 24–31.






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