This article explores Theodor W. Adorno's “central concept” of the Bann, generally translated as “spell” and understood as a suggestive, if vague, metaphor. Through etymological analysis and investigation into Adorno's use of it in several key texts, especially Negative Dialectics, an essential polysemy is revealed as necessary to an understanding of this most elusive of Adornian expressions. Explication of this polysemy establishes its relevancy for a deeper comprehension of Adorno's philosophical magnum opus and the Bann as a nonidentical conceptual formulation of the problematic project of identifying thinking.

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