How much do you know about Materialism?

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is materialism?

What is the difference between materialism and physicalism?

What are some philosophies opposed to materialism?

Which ancient philosophy was a major forerunner to modern science?

What is anthropological materialism?

What is the difference between reductive and eliminative materialism?

What is new materialism?

What do proponents of digital physics view as fundamental?

What is the main critique against materialism?


Materialism: A Summary

  • Materialism is a philosophical monism that asserts matter as the fundamental substance of nature and all things, including consciousness, are a result of material interactions.

  • Materialism is related to physicalism, which views all that exists as ultimately physical, incorporating more sophisticated notions of physicality than mere ordinary matter.

  • Philosophies opposed to materialism include idealism, pluralism, dualism, panpsychism, and other forms of monism.

  • Epicureanism, an ancient philosophy of materialism, was a major forerunner to modern science.

  • Materialism belongs to the class of monist ontology and is different from ontological theories based on dualism or pluralism.

  • Materialism is often associated with reductionism, but non-reductive materialism explicitly rejects this notion.

  • Materialism developed in several geographically separated regions of Eurasia during the Axial Age, including ancient Indian philosophy, ancient Greek atomists, and Chinese thinker Wang Chong.

  • In the late modern philosophy, Ludwig Feuerbach introduced anthropological materialism, which heavily influenced Karl Marx's concept of historical materialism.

  • Contemporary analytic philosophers operate within a broadly physicalist or scientific materialist framework, and revisionary materialism is somewhere in the middle of the continuum between reductive and eliminative materialism.

  • Contemporary continental philosopher Gilles Deleuze has attempted to rework and strengthen classical materialist ideas, and new materialism has become its own specialized subfield of knowledge.

  • The nature and definition of matter have occasioned much debate, with the advent of quantum physics and the discovery of dark matter and dark energy challenging conventional positions.

  • Materialism has no definite content, and the concept of matter has changed in response to new scientific discoveries.Critiques and Alternatives to Materialism

  • Materialism is a philosophical concept that asserts that everything in existence can be explained by physical matter, independent of any theory of matter.

  • In philosophical materialism, G. Bueno redefines the term matter for philosophy and defines a more precise term, the stroma.

  • Physicalists believe that no "element of reality" is missing from the mathematical formalism of our best description of the world.

  • Most of Hinduism and transcendentalism regard all matter as an illusion, or maya, blinding humans from knowing the truth.

  • Some 20th-century physicists and modern-day physicists and science writers have argued that materialism is flawed due to certain recent scientific findings in physics, such as quantum mechanics and chaos theory.

  • Proponents of digital physics view information rather than matter to be fundamental.

  • Immanuel Kant argues against materialism in defending his transcendental idealism.

  • Arguments for idealism, such as those of Hegel and Berkeley, often take the form of an argument against materialism.

  • If matter and energy are seen as necessary to explain the physical world, but incapable of explaining mind, dualism results.

  • Some critics object to materialism as part of an overly skeptical, narrow, or reductivist approach to theorizing.

  • John Polkinghorne objects to what he calls promissory materialism, preferring dual-aspect monism to materialism.

  • Some scientific materialists have been criticized for failing to provide clear definitions for what constitutes matter, leaving the term materialism without any definite meaning.


Take this quiz to test your knowledge on materialism, a philosophical concept that asserts that everything in existence can be explained by physical matter. Learn about its history, key proponents, critiques, and alternatives. Challenge yourself to see how much you really know about this fascinating topic.

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