Topics: Materialism

Materialism

In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance. As a theory, materialism is a form of physicalism and 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.

The view is perhaps best understood in its opposition to the doctrines of immaterial substance applied to the mind historically, famously by RenĂ© 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. 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. It has been criticised as a spiritually empty philosophy.

In sociology, in the Marxist view, materialism refers to a "materialist conception of history", not metaphysics, 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). In Psychology, a similar view was called Behaviorism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, turning the idealist dialectics of Georg Hegel upside down, came up with dialectical materialism and a materialist account of the course of history known as the materialist conception of history, later labeled historical materialism. For Marx, the base material of the world is social relations (and mainly class relations, e.g. between serfs and lord, or today, between employees and employer). As an expression of these basic social relations, all other ideologies form, including those of science, economics, law, morality, etc.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used the term to refer to a theoretical perspective that holds the satisfaction of everyday economic needs is the primary reality in every epoch of history. Opposed to German idealist philosophy, materialism takes the position that society and reality originate from a set of simple economic acts which human beings carry out in order to provide the material necessities of food, shelter, and clothing. Materialism takes as its starting point that before anything else, human beings must produce their everyday economic needs through their physical labor and practical productive activity. This single economic act, Marx believed, gives rise to a system of social relations which include political, legal and religious models.
Source: Wikipedia
Materialism
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, turning the idealist dialectics of Georg Hegel upside down, came up with dialectical materialism and a materialist account of the course of history known as the materialist conception of history, later labeled historical materialism.