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What is materialism?

  1. Dec 20, 2003 #1


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    To spare Flipton, LWSleeth, Royce et al from my rather continuous ranting on the other thread, I've set this one up so my ranting may be safely ignored. :wink:

    What I think materialism is:

    My form of materialism is the fundamental denial of a material immaterial distinction. All concepts thought of as immaterial are thus either material in disguise, or non-existent entities. All things that are real are material, and this reality is because it acts in a material way - by having some sort of influence on other things which make it possible to be measured or perceived. (Of course, I think Flipton believes this not to be materialism at all, so I'll be happy for anyone else to come up with a name for it.)

    In short:
    Material = exerting some sort of influence that renders it detectable
    Reality = that which is material
    Immaterial reality = contradiction in terms, as to be real, it must become material.

    What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2003 #2
    Materialism is a form of ignorance used by marxists to make people believe they are not sentient.
  4. Dec 26, 2003 #3
    That's an... interesting definition for Material. I've always used that same definition for existance (provided we have the means to detect anything without error, of course)... But that in no way rules out things that are considered "immaterial", the question is DO they effect anything? If you have something that effects nothing else in any way, it is not effected in any way either. You have something that takes up no space, contains no energy, and exerts no gravitational field (or any other thing that effects other things), and those types of things we label "non-existant". The debate about things considered immaterial is over whether they do effect anything, since that is the definition of existance.

    All that is essentially what you said in your post, I think. I wouldn't call that "materialism" though- materialism is when only "material" (physical, made of elementary particles in certain patterns moving in certain ways) things are considered to exist (effect things).
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2003
  5. Dec 26, 2003 #4
    as I said in the other thread, this comment...
    ... is not consistent with this comment...

    The first claims there is no distinction between material and immaterial and the second one is specific enough for me to make a distinction by simply reversing the definition.

    Immaterial = exerting some sort of influence that does not render it detectable.

    Wether something exerting an influence and remaining undetectable is possible in reality or not is not the issue. The issue being addressed in the first comment above is whether words can be assigned to make a conceptual distinction.

    Pick which of the two you want to go with before we discuss the definition. Or show how they are saying the same thing because I can't see it.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2003
  6. Dec 26, 2003 #5
    Materialism: the fullfillment of all hedonistic desires.

    "Non-Materialism": denying all hedonistic desires on Earth, in favor of hedonism in the "after-life?" A contradicting view of the "non-materialists."

    Carlos Hernandez
  7. Dec 26, 2003 #6
    Just to repeat what I said in the other thread.

    I'm not a materialist, but it seems to be that materialism simply means that there is an ontologically self-subsistent reality which is susceptible to a mathematical description by the hard sciences, that this reality is the totality of all that exists, and that this reality, if organised in a particular way, logically entails conscious awareness.
  8. Dec 27, 2003 #7
    It would be smart to search for a professional definition of materialism and not just decide your opinions to be the truth. I have no direct definition of materialism, but I will check it in a book later an post it.
  9. Dec 27, 2003 #8
    Huh? Who made this up, and what does it have to do with this thread?
  10. Dec 27, 2003 #9
    That sounds like a decent definition. What I would add is that the 'immaterial world', since it by definition doesn't have a measurable effect on the accepted material realm, can(for all practical purposes) be treated as nonexistant.
  11. Dec 28, 2003 #10
    Marxism is the idea that sentience, values and culture tie the economy and should be ignored in order to improve civilisation. Though we are all sentient and there is no point to life if we ignore our purposes and so marxists had to somehow disprove that sentience exists in order to gain support. This is where materialism comes in. Marxists noticed that scientific could not prove that sentience existed, though this is incorrect as sentience is the ability to perceive and clearly all can perceive, ignoring this they managed to make people believe that they are not sentient making them blindly follow whatever orders are given to them.

    Materialism is yet another political corruption of philosophy. Frankly I disagree with any idealism concerning philosophy, following one ideal is the equivalent of claiming that only positrons exist.

    It can be said that materialism occurs and that materialists tend to do better as they do not believe in things which do not occur. Unfortunately I cannot accept the idea of materialism as the idea of materialis has been corrupted by marxists to serve as an indoctrination tool. I prefer logic, or perhaps logicism, to materialism.
  12. Dec 28, 2003 #11

    If you are a materialist, you value things. Gadgets. And you believe that these are more important than anything else for instance social interaction or your family.
  13. Dec 28, 2003 #12
    Exactly wrong...did you bother to read the first post of this thread? We're not talking about political stuff, we're talking about electrons and stuff.
  14. Dec 28, 2003 #13
    Ha! Thallium is not a troll, not just because he agrees with me, but because if he were a troll he would have made a silly statement concerning something irrelevant. I must go back and reconsider a statement of my own.
  15. Dec 29, 2003 #14
    Sorry about my comment on materialism.

    And to "the_truth" - stop being so proud of yourself. It's just disgusting.

    And one more thing - I am a she, not a he.
  16. Dec 29, 2003 #15
    When I proved you wrong I proved you wrong to prove you wrong not to make myself seem more intelligent than you. If being right makes me pompous, then pompous I will be. :smile:
  17. Dec 29, 2003 #16
    the truth. may I ask what gender are you? No offense meant.
  18. Dec 31, 2003 #17


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    I'm baack... What did I miss?

    In case we are wondering, this was the result of a double post that I couldn't correct.

    But I'll address Flipton...

    What I mean is that the set of entities that exist, or can exist is the same as the set of entities that are material, and they are both defined in terms of having some sort of influence that is detectable. An attempt to insert a set of entities that are immaterial will either neccessarily lie outside of the set of possible-existent entities - and so be useless, or intersect with the set of material objects and be defined arbitarily.

    Make any sense?
  19. Jan 1, 2004 #18
    I suppose. Two things. 1) I don't believe this is the definition of materialism as it is discussed in philosophy. This definition is useless to categorize a view because there is no opposing view.

    2) If we just accept this non-definition then materialism no longer matters to me because the only thing I was trying to understand was the distinction between the views that get presented here in this forum. If we just accept your definition of materialism then it means that materialism is not where the distinction is and everyone is just using the wrong word. I am only trying to understand what the fundamental difference is between the views in this forum. Defining materialism and non-materialism was my first step because thats the word everyone was using. Since this cannot be where the disinction is then it's time to move on and figure out exactly where it is. We know there is a distinction because the philosphy forum is full of debates on it. Now if we can just throw away this word "materialism" and move on.
  20. Jan 2, 2004 #19
    Fliption, as I said in the other thread, the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy defines the three ideas on metaphysics thus:

    Materialism: The belief that only physical reality exists.
    Idealism: The belief that only mental, non-physical, reality exists.
    Dualism: The belief that both physical and mental realities exist.

    Clearly, the distinction that philosophers seem to be going with is that Idealists believe that there is no physical realm, but (since they are still conscious beings) there must be a non-physical mental world.
  21. Jan 2, 2004 #20
    I have already tried(in various threads) to suggest that the distinction of materialism and non-materialism involved mental-stuff and I was fought tooth and nail on it. So I think it may be more productive to just try to understand what the fundamental distinction is between the views of people posting in this forum. These people are calling themselves materialists and non-materialists but if we cannot come up with a definition that is distinctive then these labels cannot be used to understand the distinction so I'm suggesting we drop them. Unless of course, you want to concede that the philosophical definition of non-materialists views is based on the the fundamental existence of mind stuff as opposed to material stuff. Even though this would only be conceding a semantic issue and not one of actual truth and would be very useful for helping us with the distinction of views here, I have not been able to get a few of the more vocal materialists to accept it. Even though it seems to be the established definition.

    So if you still want to cling to your original definition of materialism then let's drop it and start over. We can start by you telling me what the fundamental difference is between your view and the views of Hypnagogue and Royce. I'm not interested in the differences in you're beliefs. I'm interested in the reason why you're beliefs are different. There must be some fundamental reason. These fundamental reasons are usually found in labels but since you have rendered the materialists label useless we can't use it. This request obviously applies to FZ as well.
  22. Jan 2, 2004 #21


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    I thought I was a materialist but the definitions so far given seem to narrow to fit my beliefs. So I'll call myself a physicalist or a scientific monist from now on.
  23. Jan 2, 2004 #22
    Fliption and Mantat, I think that the definitions that were given in Mentat's post are good working definitions. Not everyone will agree to agree but they are a place to start. We can then all show how and why our beliefs differ from such strict and limited definitions.
    A materialist is one who believes that only the physical exists. A non-materialist is one who believes that there are things that exist that is not physical. In this strict definition I would be a dualist to start and then I would have to explain how and why my beliefs are not so limited or strict.
    However, the next step is to come up with a definbition of "physical" that we can all agree on. "Everything that exists." won't work for obvious reasons.
  24. Jan 2, 2004 #23
    Then I stick to dualism. But of course. all three terms are worth examining for a greater understanding.
  25. Jan 3, 2004 #24
    Yes, I think those definitions are close to accurate as well. But when I proposed these same definitions in other threads, they were not acceptable. I was told that defining a concept makes the concept an actuality in reality. Yes, that's right, according to these people, pink unicorns actually exist because we have made up a word to describe them.

    You can see the futility of arguing with such people. So I've proposed a different approach.

    But I agree with you that if we stick with the term materialism then the next step is to define physical. But I'm no longer optimistic about this approach.
  26. Jan 3, 2004 #25
    Physical (a physical object): Comprised of fermions, bosons, or space- or a combination thereof.

    Aphysical (an aphysical object): Comprised of materials that react to each other in a way similar to the way physical materials interact, but which interact with physical things in such a weak manner as to be undetectible by current instruments.

    Nonphysical (a nonphysical object): Not physical.

    Uphysical (a uphysical object): Either physical or aphysical.

    Statal (a state): A description of part of a uphysical object's past and present from which a part of that uphysical object's future may be inferred.
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