Mythos of Enlightenment

The movement of Enlightenment is complex and radical. It has the purpose of liberating men from fear and establishing their sovereignty (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 3), and the program of the disenchantment of the world (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 3). Its radicality is seen in extinguishing any trace of its own self-consciousness (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 4); also some substitutions take place: formula for concept, rule and probability for cause and motive (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 5). The rule of computation and utility is the measuring standard; if something does not conform to this, it becomes suspect (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 6).
Enlightenment identifies anthropomorphism (the projection unto nature of the subjective) as being the basic principle of the myth (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 6); the supernatural is a mirror image of men.
The ideal of Enlightenment is the system from which all and everything follows; being and occurrence are recognized if they can be apprehended in unity (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 7). Formal logic provides the Enlightenment with a schema of the calculability of the world; the number becomes the cannon of Enlightenment (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 7). Unity is the main slogan, even at the expense of destruction of gods and other similar qualities. Its behavior is dictatorial toward things (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 9), and people are brought to actual conformity (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 12).
Abstraction is a main tool through which its objects are liquidated (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 13). Abstraction and industry lead to the elimination of freedom and to the formation of ‘herds’ (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 13). In this way Enlightenment is mythic fear turned radical (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 16). This abstract fear of the collective consumes everything even the symbols and their universal concepts (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 23).
This return to mythology (cycle, fate, and domination) is seen in the enlightened world in the profane domain. The reality is clean from any demons and assumes a numinous character (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 28). The fire and the rack are replaced by the stigma it attaches to all irrationality (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 31). The essence of Enlightenment is the alternative of domination where the dark horizon of myth is illuminated by the sun of calculating reason (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 32).
The enlightenment is as totalitarian as any system. Its untruth consists in the fact that for enlightenment the process is always decided from the start. (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 24) It confounds truth with mathematics. Mathematics is made into an absolute instance. Mathematical procedure became the ritual of thinking; it turns thought into an instrument. (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 25)
The more machinery of thought subjects existence to itself, the more blind its resignation is reproducing existence (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 27). The world is a gigantic analytic judgment, the only one left over from all the dreams of science, it is of the same mold as the cosmic myth which associated cycle of spring and autumn with the kidnapping of Persephone (Horkheimer, Adorno 1989, 27).

Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Translated by John Cumming. New York: Continuum, 1989.

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