The Eclipse of Gender and Reason

Flora Eder


Adorno, “Wert-Abspaltungskritik” and their epistemological implications //

In my lecture I want to outline the epistemological implications of capitalism and gender on the base of the Critical Theory of Theodor W. Adorno and the Wert-Abspaltungskritik of Roswitha Scholz.

Focusing on three for this topic core texts of Adorno – The Dialectics of enlightenment, Zu Subjekt und Objekt and Zum Verhältnis von Soziologie und Psychologie - I will start my presentation showing the two aspects of Adornos understanding of the meaning of the term subject: Subject in the sense of the subordinated individual and subject in the sense of the perceptive individual. Both these meanings refer to key-questions of the conference: What does ‘the environment’ mean for marxist feminism in the 21st century? And can there be a differentiation between a natural environment and human life or does capital increasingly achieve its gains by overcoming precisely this distinction?

Answering these questions on the theoretical base of Adorno I also want to point out the snares of an idealistic term of subject in the tradition of G.W.F. Hegel, to whom Adorno refers. Nevertheless, Adorno develops in critical continuation to his reference to Hegel a materialist meaning of subject. I will show that both these meanings (subject as the subordinated individual and as the perceptive individual) of subject have different, but in a dialectical sense related, implications on the questions of the relation of sex, gender and epistemology.

To show more specifically, what the constitution of a female subject in terms of capitalism means, I refer to Roswitha Scholz’ “Wert-Abspaltungskritik”. So in the last step of my presentation I will combine the two related definitions of Adorno of the term subject with the Wert-Abspaltungskritik to show what the epistemological implications of the Wert-Abspaltungskritik could be. As I will argue, the work of Adorno is a very rank theoretical base for a materialist-feminist epistemology. Refering to Max Horkheimers Eclipse of Reason („Kritik der instrumentellen Vernunft“) I want to develope on the base of the Wert-Abspaltungskritik a „Kritik der vergeschlechtlichten Vernunft“ – which could be translated as „Eclipse of gender and reason“. //

Biography Mag.a Flora Eder is currently working on her dissertation at University of Vienna on the topic „Adorno, Subject and the relation of Sex and Gender“. She studied Political Science at the University of Vienna from 2005-2012 and finished her studies at the Department of Politicial Science with her master thesis on avant-garde, cinema and the critique of fetishism in Adornos critique of culture industry and Guy Debords critique of the spectacle in Debords Movies. Her research internship focused on oral history, postwar justice and the massacres on Hungarian Jews in Austria in the beginning of 1945. In 2016/17 she will continue her studies at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. //

Mag.a Flora Eder, Department of Political Science, University of Vienna,

Adorno - Gender - Marxist Feminism - Critical theory - Materialist Feminism - wertabspaltung - Dialectic of Enlightenment - epistomology