The SAGE Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory expounds the development of critical theory from its founding thinkers to its contemporary formulations in an interdisciplinary setting. It maps the terrain of a critical social theory, expounding its distinctive character vis-a-vis alternative theoretical perspectives, exploring its theoretical foundations and developments, conceptualising its subject matters both past and present, and signalling its possible future in a time of great uncertainty. Taking a distinctively theoretical, interdisciplinary, international and contemporary perspective on the topic, this wide-ranging collection of chapters is arranged thematically over three volumes: Volume I: Key Texts and Contributions to a Critical Theory of Society Volume II: Themes Volume III: Contexts This Handbook is essential reading for scholars and students in the field, showcasing the scholarly rigor, intellectual acuteness and negative force of critical social theory, past and present.
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 ...