Reinterpreting Günther Anders’ Polemics with Adorno and Heidegger Through the Prism of Anders’ Musicology

Ursitti, Filippo. 2024. Reinterpreting Günther Anders’ Polemics with Adorno and Heidegger Through the Prism of Anders’ Musicology. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The aim of this thesis is to address the gap in the scholarship that characterises Günther Anders' work, and, in particular, the link between his musicology and later philosophical works. This study will provide a new interpretation of Anders' corpus based on his early musicological works and the impact they had for his overall thinking. In doing so, this research will depict Anders as more than a mere philosopher of technology as well as provide a crucial interpretive key to the works of his major interlocutors, Adorno and Heidegger. Moreover, this thesis aims at exposing the link that connects Anders’ musicology with the themes of his later philosophy of technology which also offers a novel stance on Adorno’s and Heidegger’s analyses of Hölderlin’s late hymns. Thus, rather than concentrating on musicology itself, the present thesis will employ it as a prism through which the polemics between Anders, Adorno, and Heidegger, with particular focus on the development of Anders’ thinking, can be better reinterpreted.

The thesis is structured in the following manner: in the first chapter, I present the intricate evolution of Anders’ philosophy from phenomenology to musicology. Then it juxtaposes Adorno’s and Anders’ pre-war musicological works in order to describe the emergence, through both, of a call for a paradigmatic shift centred on the ear and infused with an anti-Husserlian attitude. In the second chapter, I extrapolate Heidegger’s cryptic musicology from his essay on The Origin of the Work of Art and proceeds to compare it with Anders’ musicology. This leads to an examination of the notion of ‘Stimmung’ that, I argue, is crucial for understanding Heidegger’s idea of music and his shift from a Husserlian ocular-centrism to a new ‘acousticism’. The third chapter bridges the pre- and post-war philosophical debate among Adorno, Anders, and Heidegger and, moreover, proposes a way of re-reading the philosophical ‘turn’ attributed to each of them after WWII. This new reading recovers the notion of ‘Stimmung’ already described and uses it to showcase the existence of a parallel discussion between Adorno, Anders, and Heidegger. It thereby unveils how Adorno contested the utility of a theory of emotionality while Anders and Heidegger aimed at promoting it. In the fourth chapter, I discuss how Anders questioned Heidegger’s post-Kehre philosophy, and in the process offered two different interpretations of poetry and Hölderlin. Here it will emerge how Anders, in a direct opposition with Heidegger, recovers from Hölderlin a practical morality based on the present rather than retreating into a defeatist self-centrism. In chapter five, a juxtaposition of Anders to Adorno’s readings of Hölderlin and Beckett exhibits how their two differing perspectives were not only linked in their opposition to Heidegger but also can be seen through this lens as presenting an insightful evaluation of the disastrous effect of alienation. Finally, the conclusion answers the question: what can be learnt from re-discovering Anders’ musicological works? It thereby attempts to demonstrate the significance as well as the innovativeness of Anders’ thought via a focus on its stances toward music, anthropology, and technology and its effectiveness in proposing new paradigms.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Anders, Adorno, Heidegger, Music, Techne

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 January 2024

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Feb 2024 13:51

Last Modified:

09 Feb 2024 13:51


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