Major Papers


Global Subject, Adorno, Humanity, Kant, Marx, Progress


Theodor W. Adorno makes the following claim in his 1962 essay “Progress”: “The possibility of progress, of averting the most extreme, total disaster, has migrated to this global subject alone. Everything else involving progress must crystalize around it.” While this is Adorno’s most explicit articulation of the importance of a global subject, it is not the only one. In multiple places across his work he makes reference to mankind’s current lack of a global subject, and the need for a global subject to develop and intervene. This paper weaves together the first systematic analysis of a “global subject [Gesamtsubjekt]” as Adorno uses it throughout his philosophical work. It explores this concept and takes as its guide three inter- related questions. First, how does Adorno use the concept of the global subject in his work? Second, what antecedent philosophical ideas are influencing Adorno’s understanding of what a global subject actually is? And third, how does understanding Adorno’s utilization of this concept change how we think about his ideas about revolutionary activity in our “administered world”.

Primary Advisor

Deborah Cook

Program Reader

Jeff Noonan

Degree Name

Master of Arts



Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year