I wish to inquire into an ancient theme, that of the microfoundation of a democratic society, the exemplary constitution of the democratic, rather than of Adorno’s authoritarian, personality. I realize that the formation of that sort of personality is like happiness in that it normally eludes a direct quest. But presumably it is not harmful, and may in special circumstances be useful, to have some idea about the human type one would wish to foster in a democracy.
I start with a recollection from childhood or early adolescence. It goes back to Berlin, the city where I spent the first eighteen years of my life, from 1915 to 1933, when I left for Paris. I must have been perhaps twelve or thirteen years old, so it took place sometime in the late twenties. Although those were relatively tranquil days and I was not yet politicized I began in those years to ask myself various philosophical and semireligious questions. At the time, my relations with my father were good and trusting and those with my older sister were then becoming very close as they would remain for many years. My father (a surgeon), had a questioning and skeptical mind, but lacked the defense of irony so that I recall him as a bit melancholy and occasionally even perplexed....
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