Theodor W. Adorno’s claim in Aesthetic Theory that artworks have a truth content, and that this truth content in turn depends on philosophical interpretation, is among the work’s most challenging and obscure claims. This article argues that “The Idea of Natural History,” Adorno’s lecture dating to 1932, offers important resources for interpreting the claim of art’s truth content. Reading the lecture’s core idea of transience, the article proposes that the form of philosophical interpretation Adorno develops there illuminates one way to clarify what Adorno means, in Aesthetic Theory, by the interpretation of art’s truth content. While far from definitive, this conclusion does support interpretations of art’s truth content that foreground art’s function as a critique of ideology, that is, of having a field of application that moves beyond the sphere of the aesthetic and toward the disclosure of conditions of social domination.

You do not currently have access to this content.