Home » materialism

materialism

UN6S 2030 MATERIALISM Table of Contents 1. 0 INTRODUCTION 2 2. 0 DEFINITION OF MATERIALISM 3. 0 HISTORY OF MATERIALISM 3. 1 PERSPECTIVE OF MIND 4 3. 2 GREEK AND ROMAN MATERIALISM 5 3. 3 MODERN MAERIALISM 634 TWENTIETH CENTURY MATERIALISM ??” 835 AXIAL AGE 936 COMMON ERA ??” 10 3. 7 MODERN 10 4. 0 CONCEPTS OF MATERIALISM 11 4. 1 MATERIALISM IN PRE-20TH CENTURY 11 4. 2 MODERN MATERIALISM & SOME OF ITS MAIN CONCEPTS 11 4. 3 MATERIALISM 12 4. 4 MATERIALISM: ONTOLOGICAL & METHODOLOGICAL 15 4. MATERIALISM IN ISLAM ??” 16 5. 0 SOLUTIONS TO PREVENT MATERIALISM 18 6. 0 CONCLUSION 20 . 0 INTRODUCTION Materialism is the belief that only physical matter exists, and that there is no spiritual world. Materialism is a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all beings and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter. In materialistic worldview, only matter matters. Everything that is not physical and material is not accepted.

There's a specialist from your university waiting to help you with that essay topic for only $13.90/page Tell us what you need to have done now!


order now

It rejects, therefore, the existence of God or gods on whom the universe would depend for its existence or mode of operation; it denies the existence of angels or pirit; it questions the notion of a soul, if taken to be an immaterial entity separable, in principle, from the human body. Its two main targets are therefore theism and idealistic views of human nature. Theism means belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe. The term ???materialism” has covered a variety of theses and programs.

It has quite a long history, dating back at least to Aristotle”s objections to the ???earlier thinkers” who overemphasize the ???material element” in Book Alpha of his Metaphysics. It is elatively easy to identify a chain of paradigmatic materialists: Democritus, Empedocles, Lucretius, Hobbes, d”Holbach, Vogt, Biichner, Feuerbach, Marx, J. C. C. Smart, David Lewis, and David Armstrong. Materialism encompasses much more than a thesis or set of theses in the philosophy of mind. It would not be adequate, for example, to identify materialism with the thesis that human beings (or indeed all possible persons) are essentially embodied.

This would incorporate only a small part of what materialists, like Aristotle or Leibniz (at least with respect to finite and sublunary persons). Materialism entails the affirmation of at least four central theses: l. Everything that exists and has real causal efficacy an inductively discoverable nature can be located within space and time. Nature forms a causally closed system. All genuine causal explanation has a factual basis consisting of some fundamental particles (or arbitrarily small and homogenous bits of matter) with specific intrinsic natures. All genuine explanation is bottom-up.

These intrinsic natures of the fundamental material things (whether particles or homogeneous bits) are non-intentional and non-teleological. 2 The existence, location persistence-conditions, causal powers and the re modal properties of the fundamental material things are ontologically independent of the existence or properties of minds, persons or societies and their practices and interests. Ontological and metaphysical realism Given these four principles, there is a relatively simple and homogeneous backing for all vertical causal explanation, and this foundation is independent of and prior to all intentionality, teleology and normatively.

Understanding the world consist simply in decomposing all complex phenomena into their constituent parts and uncovering the ausal powers of those parts. These parts and their causal powers are of a mystery of merely intentional existence or impenetrable subjectivity. 2. 0 DEFINITION OF MATERIALISM From the Oxford Dictionary, the meaning of materialism is a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.

From the other dictionary, the meaning of materialism is the attitude of someone who attaches a lot of importance to money and wants to possess a lot of material things. 3. 0 HISTORY OF MATERIALISM Materialism is the idea that everything is either made only of matter or is ultimately ependent upon matter for its existence and nature. It is possible for a philosophy to be materialistic and still accord spirit a (secondary or dependent) place, but most forms of materialism tend to reject the existence of spirit or anything non-physical.

In the wider world, however, the word materialism may bring to mind dialectical materialism, which was the orthodox philosophy of communist countries. This is most importantly a theory of how changes arise in human history, though a general metaphysical theory lies in the background. Dialectical materialists contrast their iew with what they call “vulgar” materialism; and it does, indeed, appear that their theory is not an extreme materialism, whether mechanical or physicalist.

They seem to hold merely that mental processes are dependent on or have evolved from material ones. Though they might be akin to emergent materialists, it is hard to be sure; their assertion that something new emerges at higher levels 3 of organization might refer only to such things as that a computer is different from a mere heap of its components. And if so, even an extreme physicalistic materialist could acquiesce in this view. The distinctive features of dialectical materialism would thus seem to lie as much in its being dialectical as in its being materialist.

Its Olalectlcal sloe may De epltomlzea In tnree laws tnat 0T tne transTormatlon 0T quall into quantity, that of the interpenetration of opposites, and that of the negation of the negation. Nondialectical philosophers find it hard, however, to interpret these laws in a way that does not make them into either platitudes or falsehoods. Perhaps because of the historical determinism implicit in dialectical materialism, and perhaps because of memories of the mechanical materialist theories of the 18th and 9th centuries, when physics was deterministic, it is popularly supposed that materialism and determinism must go together.

This is not so. As indicated below, even some ancient materialists were indeterminists, and modern physicalist materialism must be in deterministic because of the indeterminism that is built into modern physics. Modern physics does imply, however, that macroscopic bodies behave in a way that is effectively deterministic, and, because even a single neuron (nerve fibre) is a macroscopic object by quantum-mechanical standards, a physicalistic materialist may still regard the human brain as coming near to being a echanism that behaves in a deterministic way.

A rather different way of classifying materialist theories, which to some extent cuts across the classifications already made, emerges when the theories are divided according to the way in which a materialist accounts for minds. A central-state materialist identifies mental processes with processes in the brain. An analytical behaviourist, on the other hand, argues that, in talking about the mind, one is not talking about an actual entity, whether material (e. g. , the brain) or immaterial (e. g. the soul); rather, one is somehow talking about the way in which people would ehave in various circumstances. According to the analytical behaviourist, there is no more of a problem for the materialist in having to identify mind with something material than there is in identifying such an abstraction as the average plumber with some concrete entity. Analytical behaviourism differs from psychological behaviourism, which is merely a methodological program to base theories on behavioral evidence and to eschew introspective 4 reports.

The analytical behaviourist usually has a theory of introspective reports according to which they are what are sometimes called “avowals”: roughly, he ontends that to say “l have a pain” is to engage in a verbal surrogate for a wince. Epistemic materialism is a theory that can be developed either in the direction of central-state materialism or in that of analytical behaviourism and that rests on the contention that the only statements that are inter subjectively testable are either observation reports about macroscopic physical objects or statements that imply such observation reports (or are otherwise logically related to them).

Before leaving this survey of the family of materialistic theories, a quite different sense of the word materlallsm snou10 De noted In wnlcn t I oenotes not a metapnyslcal tneory out an ethical attitude. A person is a materialist in this sense if he is interested mainly in sensuous pleasures and bodily comforts and hence in the material possessions that bring these about. A person might be a materialist in this ethical and pejorative sense without being a metaphysical materialist, and conversely.

An extreme physicality materialist, for example, might prefer a Beethoven recording to a comfortable mattress for his bed; and a person who believes in immaterial spirits might opt for the mattress. 3. 2 GREEK AND ROMAN MATERIALISM Though Thales of Miletus (c. 80 BCE) and some of the other pre-Socratic philosophers have some claims to being regarded as materialists, the materialist tradition in Western philosophy really begins with Leucippus and Democritus, Greek philosophers who were born in the 5th century BCE.

Leucippus is known only through his influence on Democritus. According to Democritus, the world consists of nothing but atoms (indivisible chunks of matter) in empty space (which he seems to have thought of as an entity in its own right). These atoms can be imperceptibly small, and they interact either by impact or by hooking together, depending on their hapes. 5 The great beauty of atomism was its ability to explain the changes in things as due to changes in the confgurations of unchanging atoms.

The view may be contrasted with that of the earlier philosopher Anaxagoras, who thought that when, for example, the bread that a person eats is transformed into human flesh, this must occur because bread itself already contains hidden within itself the characteristics of flesh. Democritus thought that the soul consists of smooth, round atoms and that perceptions consist of motions caused in the soul atoms by the atoms in the perceived thing. Because Epicurus”s philosophy was expounded in a lengthy poem by Lucretius, a Roman philosopher of the 1st century BCE, Epicurus (died 270 BCE) was easily the most influential Greek materialist.

He differed from Democritus in that he postulated an absolute up-down direction in space, so that all atoms fall in roughly parallel paths. To explain their impacts with one another, he then held that the atoms are subject to chance swerve a doctrine that was also used to explain free will. Epicurus”s materialism therefore differed from that of Democritus in being an in deterministic one. Epicurus”s philosophy contained an important ethical part, which was a sort of enlightened egoistic hedonism.

His ethics, however, was not materialistic in the pejorative sense of the word 6 Materialism languished throughout the medieval period, but the Epicurean tradition was revived in the first half of the 17th century in the atomistic materialism of the French Roman Catholic philosopher Pierre Gassendi. In putting forward his system as a hypothesis to explain the facts of experience, Gassendi showed that he understood the method characteristic of modern science, and he may well have helped to pave he way for corpuscular hypotheses in physics.

Gassendi was not thoroughgoing in his materialism inasmuch as he accepted on faith the Christian doctrine that people have immortal souls. His contemporary, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes also propounded an atomistic materialism and was a pioneer in trying to work out a mechanistic and physiological psychology. Holding that sensations are corporeal motions in the brain, Hobbes skirted, rather than solved, the philosophical problems about consciousness that had been raised by another contemporary, the great French philosopher Ren?© Descartes.

Descartes”s philosophy as dualistic, making a complete split between mind and matter. In his theory of the physical world, however, and especially in his doctrine that animals are automata, Descartes”s own system had a mechanistic side to it that was taken up by 18th- century materialists, such as Julien de La Mettrie, the French physician whose appropriately titled L “Homme machine (1747; Man a Machine, applied Descartes”s view about animals to human beings.

Denis Diderot, chief editor of the 18th-century Encyclopaedia, supported a broadly materialist outlook by considerations drawn from physiology, embryology, and the tudy of heredity; and his friend Paul, baron d”Holbach, published his Syst?©me de la nature (1770; System of Nature), which expounded a deterministic type of materialism in the light of evidence from contemporary science, reducing everything to matter and to the energy inherent in matter.

He also propounded a hedonistic ethics as well as an uncompromising atheism, which provoked a reply even from the Deist Voltaire. The 18th-century French materialists had been reacting against orthodox Christianity. In the early part of the 19th century, however, certain writers in Germany usually with a biological or medical background reacted against a different orthodoxy, the Hegelian and Neo-Hegelian tradition in philosophy named for the German idealist philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelAmong these were Ludwig Buchner and Karl Vogt.

The latter is notorious for his assertion that the brain secretes thought Just as the liver secretes bile. This metaphor of secretion, previously used by P. -J. -G. Cabanis, a late 18th-century French materialist, is no 7 longer taken seriously, because to most philosophers it does not make sense to think of thought as a stuff. The Hobbesian view, also espoused by Buchner, that thought is a motion in the brain, has been viewed as more promising.

The synthesis of urea (the chief nitrogenous end product of protein metabolism), discovered in 1828, broke down the discontinuity between the organic and the inorganic in chemistry, which had been a mainstay of non-materialistic biology. Materialist ways of thinking were later strengthened enormously by the Charles Darwin”s theory of evolution, which not only showed the continuity between humans and other living things back to the simplest organisms but also showed how the pparent evidences of design in natural history could be explained on a purely causal basis.

There still seemed to be a gap, however, between the living and the non-living, though E. H. Haeckel, a 19th-century German zoologist, thought that certain simple organisms could have been generated from inorganic matter and, indeed, that a certain simple sea creature may well be in process of generation in this way even now. Though Haeckel was wrong, 20th-century biologists proposed much more sophisticated and more plausible theories of the evolution of life from inorganic matter. Haeckel and his contemporary, the British zoologist T. H.

Huxley, did much to popularize philosophical accounts of the world that were consonant with the scientific thought of their time, but neither could be regarded as an extreme materialist. 3. 4 TWENTIETH CENTURY MATERIALISM Perhaps because modern developments in biochemistry and in physiological psychology greatly increased the plausibility of materialism, there was in the mid-20th century a resurgence of interest in the philosophical defence of central- state materialism. Central-state materialists proposed their theories partly because f dissatisfaction with the analytical behaviourism of the Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle.

Ryle himself was reluctant to call himself a materialist, partly because of his dislike of all “isms” and partly because he thought that the notion of matter has meaning only by contrast with that of mind, which he thought to be an illegitimate sort of contrast. Nevertheless, it would seem that analytical behaviourism could be used to support a physicality materialism that would go on to explain human behaviour by means of neural mechanisms. (Ryle himself was suspicious of mechanistic accounts of biology and psychology.

Analytical behaviourism was felt to be unsatisfactory, however, chiefly because 8 0T Its account 0T Introspectlve reports as avowals (see aoove lypes Olstlngu s their account of mind), which most philosophers found to be unconvincing. Philosophers distinguished two forms of central-state materialism, namely, the translation form and the disappearance form. The translation form is the view that mentalistic discourse can be translated into discourse that is neutral between physicalism and dualism, so that the truth of a person”s introspective reports is compatible with the objects of these reports being physical processes.

The isappearance form is the view that such a translation cannot be done and that this fact, however, does not refute physicalism but shows only that ordinary introspective reports are contaminated by false theories. 3. 5 AXIAL AGE Materialism developed, possibly independently, in several geographically separated regions of Eurasia during what Karl Jaspers termed the Axial Age (approximately 800 to 200 BC). ln Ancient Indian philosophy, materialism developed around 600 BC with the works of Alita Kesakambali, Payasi, Kanada, and the proponents of the C?¤rv?¤ka School of philosophy.

Kanada became one of the early proponents of atomism. The Nyaya Vaisesika school (600 BC – 100 BC) developed one of the earliest forms of atomism, though their proofs of God and their positing that the consciousness was not material precludes labelling them as materialists. Buddhist atomism and the Jaina school continued the atomic tradition. Xunzi (ca. 312 until 230 BC) developed a Confucian doctrine oriented on realism and materialism in Ancient China.

Ancient Greek philosophers like Thales, Anaxagoras (ca. 500 BC until 428 SC), Epicurus and Democritus prefgure later materialists. The Latin poem De Rerum Natura by Lucretius (ca. 99 BC until ca. 5 BC) reflects the mechanistic philosophy of Democritus and Epicurus. According to this view, all that exists is matter and void, and all phenomena result from different motions and conglomerations of base material particles called “atoms” (literally: “indivisibles”).

De Rerum Natura provides mechanistic explanations for phenomena such as erosion, evaporation, wind, and sound. Famous principles like “nothing can touch body but body” first appeared in the works of Lucretius. Democritus and Epicurus however did not hold to a monist ontology since they held to the ontological separation of matter and space i. e. pace being “another kind” of being, indicating that the definition of “materialism” is wider than given scope for in this article. 9 3. COMMON ERA Chinese thinkers of the early Common Era said to be materialists include Yang Xiong (53 BC until AD 18) and Wang Chong (c AD 27 until AD 100). Later Indian materialist Jayaraashi Bhatta (6th century) in his work Tattvopaplavasimha (“The upsetting of all principles”) refuted the Nyaya Sutra epistemology. The materialistic C?¤rv?¤ka pnllosopny appears to nave oleo out some time arter 1 wnen Maanavacnarya compiled Sarva-dargana-samgraha (a digest of all philosophies) in the 14th century, e had no C?¤rv?¤ka/Lok?¤yata text to quote from, or even refer to.

In early 12th-century al-Andalus, the Arabian philosopher, Ibn Tufail (Abubacer), wrote discussions on materialism in his philosophical novel, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan (Philosophus Autodidactus), while vaguely foreshadowing the idea of a historical materialism. 3. 7 MODERN ERA Later on, Pierre Gassendi represented the materialist tradition, in opposition to Ren?© Descartes’ attempts to provide the natural sciences with dualist foundations. There followed the materialist and atheist Jean Meslier, Julien Offroy de La Mettrie, Paul-

Henri Thiry Baron d’Holbach, Denis Diderot, and other French Enlightenment thinkers; as well as in England, John “Walking” Stewart, whose insistence that all matter is endowed with a moral dimension had a major impact on the philosophical poetry of William Wordsworth. Schopenhauer wrote that “materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forgets to take account of him”. He claimed that an observing subject can only know material objects through the mediation of the brain and its particular organization. That is, the brain itself is the “determiner” of how material objects will be experienced or perceived.

Everything objective, extended, active, and hence everything material, is regarded by materialism as so solid a basis for its explanations that a reduction to this (especially if it should ultimately result in thrust and counter-thrust) can leave nothing to be desired. But all this is something that is given only very indirectly and conditionally, and is therefore only relatively present, for it has passed through the machinery and fabrication of the brain, and hence has entered the forms of time, space, and causality, by virtue of which it is first of all presented as extended in space and operating in time. 0 The materialist and atheist Ludwig Feuerbach would signal a new turn in materialism through his book, The Essence of Christianity, which provided a humanist account of religion as the outward projection of man’s inward nature. Feuerbach’s materialism would later heavily influence Karl Marx. 4. 0 CONCEPTS OF MATERIALISM 4. 1 MATERIALISM IN PRE-20TH CENTURY It rested on assumptions that were ultimately metascientific, though never metaphysical in the Aristotelian sense.

That is, the assumptions of materialism reached beyond empirical science, though never beyond physical reality. These metascientific assumptions were, first of all, that the material or natural reality Tormea an unoroKen materlal contlnuum tnat was eternal ana InTlnlte. Nature naa no beginning or end. It was an eternal, self-generating and self-sustaining material fact without any sort of barrier or limit zoning it off from a nonmaterial, nonphysical, or supernatural type of being.

The only foundational being there was, was material being, and some kind of natural substance underlay all visible phenomena. Of course these assumptions implied, secondly, the lack of any governance or management of he universe of any sort of transcendental intelligence. Materialism has always viewed atheism merely as a necessary consequence of its premises, not as a philosophically important end in itself. Supernatural gods, spiritual deities, or immaterial moralizers could obviously not be taken seriously, or for that matter even imagined to exist, in the materialist hypothesis.

Thirdly and last, materialism has always assumed that life is wholly the product of natural processes. All human thought and feeling emerges from the nonliving, inorganic matrix of physical nature and ends at death. So materialism has always inferred its theories from the best empirical evidence at hand and has as a result always had its metascientific hypotheses scientifically confirmed, because the basic assumption of valid science has also always been that nature is governed by coherent, discoverable physical laws. 4. MODERN MATERIALISM & SOME OF ITS MAIN CONCEPTS When someone today describes himself or herself as a materialist, they generally mean they stand somewhere in a spectrum defined at one end as reductive materialism and at the other 11 end as eliminative materialism. Reduction and eliminative materialism describes the oles of the process known as intertheoretic reduction. Intertheoretic reduction refers to what happens when a new scientific theory either better explains or else completely invalidates an existing scientific theory.

If the new theory better explains the old one, it is said to have reduced it to a fuller, more convincing explanation. A successful reduction of this kind was the incorporation and clarification of Newton’s laws of motion in Einstein’s theory of relativity, or of Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism in quantum theory. The other pole of intertheoretic reduction, eliminative materialism, consists of the nvalidation or complete displacement of an earlier theory by a new one.

Examples of this kind of elimination are: the theory of demonic possession being eliminated by the theory of mental disease, the theory of phlogiston being eliminated by the discovery of oxygen as the cause of combustion, or creationism being eliminated by evolution as an explanation of the earth’s history. Obviously, modern reductive and eliminative materialists are allies in believing, as pre-20th century materialists did, that science has always confirmed and will most probably always continue to confirm the basic hypotheses of materialist philosophy:

x

Hi!
I'm Sophie Gosser!

Would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out