« After Mimesis and Aufklärung : an epistemological way-out capitalism ? Benjamin and Adorno on how knowledge can transform social praxis. »

Peyrical Aurélia


The paper will focus on the defects of a type of knowledge that derive from capitalist social practices. It will do so trough a detailed analysis of Benjamin's conception of imitation and Adorno's Utopie der Erkenntniss (Utopia of knowledge). Thus our goal is to justify the idea that other forms of knowledge are possible and wishable and to describe some of them briefly. Those might prove more adequate than earlier ones – namely Mimesis and Aufklärung – though they are not radically foreign to them, as Benjamin and Adorno advocate. They are an ideal but not idealistic. The aim will be to show how, according to them, norms and forms of scientific knowledge can have some impact on historical situations, even though they all three agree on the fact that forms of knowledge derive from economical, social and political human interactions. How is such a conception of knowledge, and of ideas in general, not to be accused of idealism ? How can ideas be understood as possibly provoking a shift in collective Lebensform ? Analyzing how the expression « utopia of knowledge » can be interpreted, we conclude that neither of our authors can be blamed for exagerating the efficiency of ideas over social structures. Their profound despair and a their powerful rereading of Marx's concept of ideology, rather, leads them to articulate theory and practice anew.

Adorno - Capitalism - knowledge - Walter Benjamin - Utopia - Idealism - Ideology - Despair - Theory and Practice