Materialism

Materialism

Contents

  • Taxonavigation 1
  • Name 2
  • References 3
  • Overview 4
  • History 5
    • Axial Age 5.1
    • Common Era 5.2
    • Modern era 5.3
  • Scientific materialists 6
  • Name 7
  • References 8

Taxonavigation

Species: Materialism

Name

Materialism S. Schröder, 2013

Type locality: Democratic Republic of Congo, North Kivu, Monts Mitumba, Kasugho, 00º15'S, 29º15'E, 2000 m.

Holotype: MRAC. male ♂. II.2011. leg. R. Ducarme.

References

  • Schröder, S., 2013: A new Liptena Westwood, 1851 from North-Kivu (Democratic Republic of Congo) (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae, Lipteninae). Lambillionea, 113 (3): 197-200.

Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are the result of material interactions.

Materialism is closely related to physicalism; the view that all that exists is ultimately physical. Philosophical physicalism has evolved from materialism with the discoveries of the physical sciences to incorporate far more sophisticated notions of physicality than mere ordinary matter, such as: spacetime, physical energies and forces, dark matter, and so on. Thus the term "physicalism" is preferable over "materialism", while others use the terms as if they are synonymous.

Contrasting philosophies to materialism or physicalism include idealism and other forms of monism, dualism and pluralism.

Overview

Materialism belongs to the class of monist ontology. As such, it is different from ontological theories based on dualism or pluralism. For singular explanations of the phenomenal reality, materialism would be in contrast to idealism, neutral monism, and spiritualism.

Despite the large number of philosophical schools and subtle nuances between many,[1][2][3] all philosophies are said to fall into one of two primary categories, which are defined in contrast to each other: Idealism, and materialism.[a] The basic proposition of these two categories pertains to the nature of reality, and the primary distinction between them is the way they answer two fundamental questions: "what does reality consist of" and "how does it originate?" To idealists, spirit or mind or the objects of mind (ideas) are primary, and matter secondary. To materialists, matter is primary, and mind or spirit or ideas are secondary, the product of matter acting upon matter.[3]

The materialist view is perhaps best understood in its opposition to the doctrines of immaterial substance applied to the mind historically, famously by René Descartes. However, by itself materialism says nothing about how material substance should be characterized. In practice, it is frequently assimilated to one variety of physicalism or another.

Materialism is often associated with reductionism, according to which the objects or phenomena individuated at one level of description, if they are genuine, must be explicable in terms of the objects or phenomena at some other level of description — typically, at a more reduced level. Non-reductive materialism explicitly rejects this notion, however, taking the material constitution of all particulars to be consistent with the existence of real objects, properties, or phenomena not explicable in the terms canonically used for the basic material constituents. Jerry Fodor influentially argues this view, according to which empirical laws and explanations in "special sciences" like psychology or geology are invisible from the perspective of basic physics. A lot of vigorous literature has grown up around the relation between these views.

Modern philosophical materialists extend the definition of other scientifically observable entities such as energy, forces, and the curvature of space. However philosophers such as Mary Midgley suggest that the concept of "matter" is elusive and poorly defined.[4]

Materialism typically contrasts with dualism, phenomenalism, idealism, vitalism, and dual-aspect monism. Its materiality can, in some ways, be linked to the concept of Determinism, as espoused by Enlightenment thinkers.

During the 19th century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels extended the concept of materialism to elaborate a materialist conception of history centered on the roughly empirical world of human activity (practice, including labor) and the institutions created, reproduced, or destroyed by that activity (see materialist conception of history). Later Marxists developed the notion of dialectical materialism which characterized later Marxist philosophy and method.

History

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).

In Ancient Indian philosophy, materialism developed around 600 BC with the works of Ajita Kesakambali, Payasi, Kanada, and the proponents of the Cārvāka school of philosophy. Kanada became one of the early proponents of atomism. The NyayaVaisesika 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. 312–230 BC) developed a Confucian doctrine centered on realism and materialism in Ancient China.

Ancient Greek philosophers like Thales, Anaxagoras (ca. 500 BC – 428 BC), Epicurus and Democritus prefigure later materialists. The Latin poem De Rerum Natura by Lucretius (ca. 99 BC – ca. 55 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. space being "another kind" of being, indicating that the definition of "materialism" is wider than given scope for in this article.

Common Era

Chinese thinkers of the early common era said to be materialists include Yang Xiong (53 BC – AD 18) and Wang Chong (c AD 27 – 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 Cārvāka philosophy appears to have died out some time after 1400. When Madhavacharya compiled Sarva-darśana-samgraha (a digest of all philosophies) in the 14th century, he had no Cārvāka/Lokāyata text to quote from, or even refer to.[5]

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.[6]

Modern era

The French cleric Pierre Gassendi (1592-1665) represented the materialist tradition in opposition to the attempts of René Descartes (1596-1650) to provide the natural sciences with dualist foundations. There followed the materialist and atheist abbé Jean Meslier (1664-1729), Julien Offray de La Mettrie, the German-French Paul-Henri Thiry Baron d'Holbach (1723-1789), the Encyclopedist Denis Diderot (1713-1784), and other French Enlightenment thinkers; as well as (in England) John "Walking" Stewart (1747-1822), whose insistence in seeing matter as endowed with a moral dimension had a major impact on the philosophical poetry of William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

"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."[8]

The German materialist and atheist anthropologist Ludwig Feuerbach would signal a new turn in materialism through his book, The Essence of Christianity (1841), 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.

Scientific materialists

Many current and recent philosophers—e.g., Daniel Dennett, Willard Van Orman Quine, Donald Davidson, John Rogers Searle, and Jerry Fodor—== Taxonavigation == Species: Materialism

Name

Materialism S. Schröder, 2013

Type locality: Democratic Republic of Congo, North Kivu, Monts Mitumba, Kasugho, 00º15'S, 29º15'E, 2000 m.

Holotype: MRAC. male ♂. II.2011. leg. R. Ducarme.

References

  • Schröder, S., 2013: A new Liptena Westwood, 1851 from North-Kivu (Democratic Republic of Congo) (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae, Lipteninae). Lambillionea, 113 (3): 197-200.