The aim of this chapter is to outline the significance of materialism for the formulation of the Frankfurt School’s critical theory of society. Traditionally, materialism has been taken to mean that the world is composed of a single substance or matter, and that all worldly phenomena – including ostensibly intangible ones, such as thought – are modifications or attributes thereof. Accordingly, materialism has long been equated with the view that our experience of the world is rooted in (and conditioned by) tangible, material circumstances. It signals an effort to explain the world out of itself, on its own terms, i.e. without appealing to any higher principle, be it the primacy of the Idea or the supreme reign of ...