>
Dialectic of Enlightenment
Dialectic of Enlightenment
Philosophical Fragments

This celebrated work is the keystone of the thought of the Frankfurt School. It is a wide-ranging philosophical and psychological critique of the Western categories of reason and nature, from Homer to Nietzsche.


Add Remove

authored-by Max Horkheimer on 4/19/2019, 11:10:00 AM

authored-by Theodor W. Adorno on 4/19/2019, 11:10:00 AM

excerpt The purposelessness of the great modern work of art is sustained by the anonymity of the market. 127 on 6/2/2019, 9:35:30 PM

excerpt To posit the human word as absolute, the false commandment, is the immanent tendency of radio. Recommendation becomes command. 129 on 6/2/2019, 9:44:09 PM

excerpt The montage character of the culture industry, the synthet­ic, controlled manner in which its products are assembled-factory-like not only in the film studio but also, virtually, in the compilation of the cheap biographies, journalistic novels, and hit songs-predisposes it to advertising: the individual moment, in being detachable, replaceable, estranged even technically from any coherence of meaning, lends itself to purposes outside the work. The special effect, the trick, the isolated and repeatable individual performance have always conspired with the exhibi­tion of commodities for advertising purposes, and today every close-up of a film actress is an advert for her name, every hit song a plug for its tune. 133 on 6/2/2019, 9:47:39 PM

excerpt Myth sought to report, to name, to tell of origins—but therefore also to narrate, record, explain. This tendency was reinforced by the recording and collecting of myths. From a record, they soon became a teaching. Each ritual contains a repre- sentation of how things happen and of the specific process which is to be influenced by magic. 5 on 9/19/2019, 3:48:34 PM

excerpt Whatever might be different is made the same. 8 on 9/24/2019, 4:27:42 PM

excerpt it amputates the incommensurable. 8 on 9/24/2019, 4:28:10 PM

excerpt The regression of the masses today lies in their inability to hear with their own ears what has not already been heard, to touch with their hands what has not previously been grasped; it is the new form of blindness which supersedes that of vanquished myth. 29 on 9/24/2019, 4:30:59 PM

excerpt Bourgeois society is ruled by equivalence. It makes dissimilar things comparable by reducing them to abstract quantities. For the Enlightenment, anything which cannot be resolved into numbers, and ultimately into one, is illusion; modern positivism consigns it to poetry. 5 on 9/24/2019, 4:32:25 PM

excerpt The explicit and implicit, exoteric and esoteric catalog of what is forbidden and what is tolerated* is so extensive that it not only defines the area left free but wholly controls it. 101 on 1/18/2020, 10:32:25 PM

excerpt The rare ability to conform punctiliously to the obligations of the idiom of naturalness in all branches of the culture industry becomes the measure of expertise. 102 on 1/18/2020, 10:33:19 PM

excerpt By artfully sanctioning the demand for trash, the system inaugurates total harmony. Connoisseurship and expertise are proscribed as the arrogance of those who think themselves' superior, whereas culture distributes its privileges democratically to all. 106 on 1/18/2020, 10:36:32 PM

excerpt With good reason the interest of countless consumers is focused on the technology, not on the rigidly repeated, threadbare and half-abandoned content. The social power revered by the spectators manifests itself more effectively in the technically enforced ubiquity of stereotypes than in the stale ideologies which the ephemeral contents have to endorse. 108 on 1/18/2020, 10:38:05 PM

excerpt Nevertheless, the culture industry remains the entertainment business. It's control of consumers is mediated by entertainment, and its hold will not be broken by outright dictate but by the hostiliry inherent in the principle of entertainment to anything which is more than itself. Since the tendencies of the public are turned into the flesh and blood of the public by the social process as a whole, those tendencies are reinforced by the survival of the market in the industry. Demand has not yet been replaced by simple obedience. The major reorganization of the film industry shortly before the First World War, the material precondition for its expansion, was a deliberate adaptation to needs of the public registered at the tick�t office, which were hardly thought worthy of consideration in the pioneering days of the screen. That view is still held by the captains of the film industry, who accept only more or less phenomenal box-office success as evidence and prudently ignore the counterevidence, truth. Their ideology is business. It is quite correct that the power of the culture industry resides in its identification with a manufactured need, and not in simple contrast to it, even if this contrast were one of complete power and complete powerlessness. 109 on 1/18/2020, 10:44:57 PM

excerpt Culture is a paradoxical commodity. So completely is it subject to the law of exchange that it is no longer exchanged; it is so blindly consumed in use that it can no longer be used. Therefore it amalgamates with advertising. The more meaningless the latter seems to be under a monopoly, the more omnipotent it becomes. The motives are markedly economic. on 1/18/2020, 10:50:28 PM

excerpt What is decisive today is no longer Puritanism, though it still assens itself in the form of women's organizations, but the necessity, inherent in the system,* of never releasing its grip on the consumer, of not for a moment allowing him or her to suspect that resistance is possible. This principle requires that while all needs should be presented to i ndividuals as capable of fulfillment by the culture industry, they should be so set up in advance that individuals experience themselves through rheir needs only as eternal consumers, as the culture industry's object. Not only does it persuade them that its fraud is satisfaction; it also gives them to understand that they must make do with what is offered, whatever it may be. 113 on 1/18/2020, 10:50:41 PM

excerpt 'But the hiding places of mindless anisrry, which represents what is human against the social mechanism, are being relentlessly ferreted out by organizational reason, which forces everything ro justify itself in terms of meaning and effect. 114 on 1/18/2020, 10:52:19 PM

excerpt Today, when the free market is coming to an end, those who control the system are entrenching themselves in it. It strengthens the firm bond between the consumers and the big combines. Only those who can pay the exorbitant rates charged by the advertising agencies, chief of which are the radio networks themselves; that is, only those who are already in a position to do so, or are co-opted by the decision of the banks and industrial capital, can enter the pseudo-market as sellers. The costs of advertising, which finally flow back into the pockets of the combines, make it unnecessary to defeat unwelcome outsiders by laborious competition. They guarantee that power will remain in the same hands – not unlike those economic decisions by which the establishment and running of undertakings is controlled in a totalitarian state. Advertising today is a negative principle, a blocking device: everything that does not bear its stamp is economically suspect. Universal publicity is in no way necessary for people to get to know the kinds of goods – whose supply is restricted anyway. It helps sales only indirectly. For a particular firm, to phase out a current advertising practice constitutes a loss of prestige, and a breach of the discipline imposed by the influential clique on its members. In wartime, goods which are unobtainable are still advertised, merely to keep industrial power in view. Subsidising ideological media is more important than the repetition of the name. Because the system obliges every product to use advertising, it has permeated the idiom – the “style” – of the culture industry. Its victory is so complete that it is no longer evident in the key positions: the huge buildings of the top men, floodlit stone advertisements, are free of advertising; at most they exhibit on the rooftops, in monumental brilliance and without any self-glorification, the firm’s initials. But, in contrast, the nineteenth-century houses, whose architecture still shamefully indicates that they can be used as a consumption commodity and are intended to be lived in, are covered with posters and inscriptions from the ground right up to and beyond the roof: until they become no more than backgrounds for bills and sign-boards. Advertising becomes art and nothing else, just as Goebbels – with foresight – combines them: l’art pour l’art, advertising for its own sake, a pure representation of social power. In the most influential American magazines, Life and Fortune, a quick glance can now scarcely distinguish advertising from editorial picture and text. The latter features an enthusiastic and gratuitous account of the great man (with illustrations of his life and grooming habits) which will bring him new fans, while the advertisement pages use so many factual photographs and details that they represent the ideal of information which the editorial part has only begun to try to achieve. on 1/19/2020, 4:48:42 PM

excerpt The more strongly the culture industry entrenches itself, the more it can do as it chooses with the needs of consumers — producing, controlling, disciplining them 115 on 3/3/2020, 3:28:40 PM

excerpt Amusement itself becomes an ideal, taking the place of the higher values it eradicates from the masses 115 on 3/3/2020, 3:29:31 PM

excerpt Whereas the machanism of supply and demand is today disintegrating … , in the superstructure it acts as a control on behalf of the rulers.106 on 3/3/2020, 3:48:02 PM

excerpt "they unresistingly succumb to whatever is proffered to them" 106 on 3/3/2020, 3:48:09 PM

excerpt Thought is reified as an autonomous, automatic process, aping the machine it has itself produced, so that it can finally be replaced by the machine 19 on 3/3/2020, 3:50:12 PM

excerpt it is no longer the objective laws of the market which govern the actions of industrialists and drive humanity toward catastrophe. Rather, the conscious decisions of the company chairmen execute capitalism’s old law of value, and thus its fate, as resultants no less compulsive than the blindest price mechanisms. The rulers themselves do not believe in objective necessity, even if they sometimes call their machinations by that name. They posture as engineers of world history. 30 on 3/3/2020, 3:53:22 PM

excerpt The mythical scientific respect of peoples for the given reality, which they themselves constantly create, finally becomes itself a positive fact, a fortress before which even the revolutionary imagination feels shamed as utopianism, and degenerates to a compliant trust in the objective tendency of history. 33 on 3/3/2020, 3:56:11 PM

excerpt That reason’s necessity is illusion, no less than the freedom of the industrialists, which reveals its ultimately compulsive nature in their inescapable struggles and pacts. 31 on 3/3/2020, 3:56:44 PM

excerpt If the objective social tendency of this age is incarnated in obscure subjective intentions of board chairmen 96 on 3/3/2020, 3:59:09 PM

excerpt An explanation in terms of the specific interests of the technical apparatus and its personnel would be closer to the truth, provided that apparatus were understood in all its details as part of the economic mechanism of selection. Added to this is the agreement, or at least the common determination, of the executive powers to produce or let pass nothing which does not conform to their tables, to their concept of the consumer, or, above all, to themselves. 96 on 3/3/2020, 4:03:29 PM

excerpt "organized from above" 96 on 3/3/2020, 4:05:02 PM

excerpt The mythical scientific respect of peoples for the given reality, which they themselves constantly create, finally becomes itself a positive fact, a fortress before which even the revolution- ary imagination feels shamed as utopianism, and degenerates to a compliant trust in the objective tendency of history. 33 on 3/7/2020, 10:21:29 PM


Peter Gordon introduced Dialectic of Enlightenment on 4/24/2019, 6:51:57 PM

David Lebow introduced Dialectic of Enlightenment on 4/24/2019, 6:52:34 PM

The Frankfurt School and Its Critics references Dialectic of Enlightenment on 2/2/2020, 9:33:03 PM

The Idea of the Culture Industry references Dialectic of Enlightenment on 2/29/2020, 7:50:27 PM