T.W. ADORNO ON
ZEN BUDDHISM AS POPULAR IDEOLOGY

The corny exoticism of such decorative world views as the astonishingly consumable Zen Buddhist one casts light upon today's restorative philosophies. Like Zen, they simulate a thinking posture which the history stored in the subjects makes impossible to assume. Restricting the mind to thoughts open and attainable at the historical stage of its experience is an element of freedom; nonconceptual vagary represents the opposite of freedom. Doctrines which heedlessly run off from the subject to the universe, along with the philosophy of Being, are more easily brought into accord with the world's hardened condition and with the chances of success within it than is the tiniest bit of self-reflection by a subject pondering upon itself and its real captivity.


SOURCE: Adorno, Theodor W. Negative Dialectics, translated by E.B. Ashton (New York: The Seabury Press, 1973), p. 68.


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