Plato, Adorno, and the Dialectic


  • Maxwell Kennel McMaster University



Plato, Adorno, Dialectic


This essay shows substantial connections between Plato’s dialectical approach in The Republic and Adorno’s 1958 lectures in An Introduction to Dialectics. Although the relationship between Adorno and Aristotle has received some attention, little work has been done either demonstrating or making connections between Plato and Adorno, especially on the topic of the dialectic. This is likely because Adorno himself has little to say about Plato’s dialectic, although he does refer often to Plato’s ideas and forms, and sometimes to his aesthetics. This essay reads against the grain to show how Plato and Adorno conceive of dialectical thinking in strikingly similar ways that run parallel with their discontinuities, and concludes with the suggestion that the figure of chiasmus is well-positioned to push the limits of dialectical thinking.


Author(s): Maxwell Kennel

Title (English): Plato, Adorno, and the Dialectic

Journal Reference: Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 18, No. 1-2 (2021).

Publisher: Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities - Skopje

Page Range: 84-97

Page Count: 14

Citation (English):   Maxwell Kennel, “Plato, Adorno, and the Dialectic,” Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 18, No. 1-2 (2021): 84-97.

Author Biography

Maxwell Kennel, University of Toronto 

Maxwell Kennel is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, where he is currently working on a project called “Critique of Conspiracism” under the supervision of Pamela Klassen. He completed his PHD in Religious Studies in May 2021 at McMaster University with a dissertation on “Ontologies of Violence” in the works of Jacques Derrida, Mennonite pacifists, and feminist philosopher of religion Grace M. Jantzen. He is the author of Postsecular History: Political Theology and the Politics of Time (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) and the editor of a special issue of Political Theology on interdisciplinary approaches to Mennonite Political Theology (May 2021).




How to Cite

Kennel, M. (2021). Plato, Adorno, and the Dialectic. Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, 18(1-2), 84-97.