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Why the bias against materialism?

  1. Aug 5, 2003 #1
    Of all the ideas bandied around theboard, the only onesI know of that is practical, that can be shown to have any supporting evidence, and can be repeated, or predict anything, are materialistic views or reality. So why are they almost universally blasted in threads on Physics Forums? It makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever...(This is seperate from all the personal attacks I get for not believing in stuff that isn't real...if I was attacked for believing in things, the offender would be blasted for religious discrimination. Being rude to nonbelievers is apparently ok, though...that makes no sense either)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2003 #2
    1. Materialism vs. idealism has been going on for a long time, at least since the time of Demokritos of Abdera (you know, nothing but atoms and empty space underlie all phenomena). The particular theaters for debate and rancor have been about the uniqueness of life and of mind. That is why it is called "idealism", namely, ideation preceding any material conception. There is a sense of "Is that all there is?" held against materialism. And the scientific enterprise is guaranteed to never arrive at final answers. If someone proclaims A, B, C cause X, Y, Z , then someone else can always ask "Why". Some idealist conceptions, such as an eternal God, contain a built-in stopper for the "why" question: "God is the ultimate existent being; all chains of questions end with God".

    2. A lot of anti-materialists are, frankly, preachers. It is in the nature of preachers to lambast the hearers. In seventeenth century New England, they would fire a preacher that failed to scorch the congregation sufficiently for hours on Sunday mornings with visions of hellfire and to excoriate the people for their daily wickedness. Preachers were expected to do this to earn their keep. So, preachers must preach.

    3. It is human to disagree about matters.
  4. Aug 5, 2003 #3
    Because otherwise this forum would BORING
  5. Aug 5, 2003 #4
    This is seperate from all the personal attacks I get for not believing in stuff that isn't real.

    Where is the logic here? You are no different than the people who lambasted the first people that said the world could be round instead of flat. That was socalled science at the time. It also exists now this I do not belive I know, but that is me.

    If tomarrow headlines read yet there is more scientifically proven, would you know that it is real? No you would say wow ok it is real I belive because science said it is real. Does that make it real? Will it be an experience to you? What has changed.

    Life is about people and band wagons. It does not matter where you are or what arena. They are all band wagons. Sometimes they when not in a detrimental way they are good because they give groups of people a sense of community or being a part of an idea, but they will never lead to truth because the truth must come from one place and it is in a place where the seeker has yet to look.

    When I was a child I knew all people had the capacity to understand, it is just that some don't but not because they cannot but because their lives to this point and time have not led them to a set of circumstances that would knock the lid off into the connection.
  6. Aug 5, 2003 #5
    I, for one, am not anti-materistic, just the opposite. I am a materialist philosophically but not a srict or exclusive materist.
    As I have said before I think that there is more to the world, universe than the physical material realm. There is also more than the subjective or idealistic realm.

    I do not deny physics, chemistry or any other science is real. I do not deny that science itself is an extremely valuable tool and at this time the only method that we have to come to know the physical universe.

    The point is, Science is a tool and has limited scope and usefulness. Science and materialism is not the be all and end all of the universe we live in or of us humans. There is more to this life and world than science and more that science can or should address or study.

    Religion or spiritually aside, there is life, consciousness and thought itself to question and discuss and so far to date science has not yet be able to define much less determine what it is how it works and why it works the way it does. We only know that it is, but we don't even know what knowing is nor what knowledge is, when we try to get down to the actual workings of the human mind/brain.
  7. Aug 5, 2003 #6
    But, on the other hand, since only science has produced any concrete answers to most questions so far, why is it that when we hit a (likely temporary) wall, we turn back to mysticism?
  8. Aug 5, 2003 #7
    The collective 'we' are still too soon out of the trees or caves? We ain't vulcans yet and our DNA still contains that or worms and one celled animals. When we feel threatened we always go back to where we feel most comfortable.
  9. Aug 5, 2003 #8
    Well, I understand that...that is sort of my POINT! There are psychological reasons for us to want to embrace things that aren't real, and knowing this should make it easier to avoid in the future, shouldn't it?
  10. Aug 5, 2003 #9
    See that's the difference between science and religion. Religion IS a bandwagon and everyone's just along for the ride. Science, at least from my viewpoint, isn't about a bandwagon.

    If science tomorrow said the earth was flat, I would need to see it for myself to believe it. I would start walking round the world, cuz I'm not buying it. The bottom line is that Science is a methodology, not necessarily a belief on the same level as religion. Science has the ability to question itsself. To doubt it's rules when it is necessary to do so. Religion lacks the ability to question itsself, because it cannot stand up to scrutiny. Religion is the intangible, Science the tangible.

    When we are children we believe in Santa Claus. I did. Then as I grew older I realized that it was a myth. I also realized it was a based in part, in fact. Nicholas was an actual person in Germany in the 1600's who went around leaving presents at the doors of houses for children. Thus the myth was born. I also realized the need for this myth, and the magic and mysticism that it feeds to the imaginations of children throughout the world. It makes us happy to see the kids bubbling with joy each christmas in anticipation of Santa Claus's visit. It fills a need, a void that children badly need to fill. The same parallel is found in religion. There is a need, a fullfillment that people recieve from following religion. It gives them guidance in life, and hope, and for many, a purpose. I may not believe in religion, but I definitely realize the need. And if it gives a sense of purpose and meaning to some people, who am I to disparage thier needs? But for me, I see religion for what it truly is, not what I would wish it to be.
  11. Aug 5, 2003 #10
    We have the "effect" all around us, which is external. But, if this is the extent of our focus, how does it belie the "cause," which is internal? Life itself is nothing but subjective, which is say, if we wish to find meaning in life, then we must look within. Doesn't that make the least bit of sense?

    Whereas the materialists will say, there is no meaning to life, we are just here. Now you tell me which makes more sense? ... and, which sounds outright foolish?

    What is the point to doing anything in this life if it doesn't mean anything?
  12. Aug 5, 2003 #11
    That is a philospohical argument that doesn't change physical reality. The reality isn't what we want, just because we don't like the alternative.
    Also, materialists don't seem to be committing suicide in droves, so obviously we have figured out 'meaning', don't you think?
  13. Aug 5, 2003 #12
    If we weren't so concerned with "outer-appearances" -- which, is all vanity -- maybe we wouldn't find the need to wreak so much havoc on the material world, to satiate that need ... for materialistic hedonism.

    Haven't heard of any up to date statistics, but in recent years have heard of a lot of young people committing suicide.
  14. Aug 5, 2003 #13
    I don't understand what this means, or what point you are trying to make. A meterialistic worldview has nothing to do with hedonism. Plus, actually, it is the materialists who are all for conservation of the world.

    I don't see how this is relevant either, frankly. Can you elaborate?
  15. Aug 5, 2003 #14
    You know when I first got here, I was chastized for giving a subjective explanation as to why we are here. And love's been broken down into chemical reations and nerve impusles. So I don't want to hear anything about subjective this and that. We are here because the infinite causal law has brought us to this point and time as a result of an combination of genetics, evolution, and various other external factors. That is why we are here... hmmph!
  16. Aug 5, 2003 #15
    What? And it can actually communicate too? How novel! :wink:
  17. Aug 5, 2003 #16
    If only we could say the same of God:wink:
  18. Aug 5, 2003 #17
    What would you say about mass consumerism, and the fact that by the time we're ready to buy something -- new and off the shelf -- that it's already considered obsolete? So here we are already looking to replace what we just bought! I see a lot of junk going into the landfills and a lot of resources being wasted. Why can't people be satisifed with what they've got? And why is it so important that "we" only settle for "the best?" Could it be because it's an ego or vanity problem?

    I see a lot of young people today (in fact even when I was growing up) without any sense of values.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2003
  19. Aug 5, 2003 #18
    What should a little speck of protoplasm care anyway for? :wink:
  20. Aug 5, 2003 #19
    It's interesting to see how different people perceive things differently. I would have never claimed that there was bias in this forum "AGAINST" materialism. I would say it is for materialism. I'm not questioning whether that bias is justified or not. I'm just stating that I perceived the majority voting in on the materialism side. Now there are a few very vocal individuals who would tend to disagree with the majority view on most things and one of those has admitted that even he is a materialist. Anyway....

    My struggle with this materialism/Idealism topic is that no one ever really defines it before they start talking about it. Except for Heusdens maybe and his definitions are 30 page long textbook excerpts and well... who wants to read all that?

    Is Materialism the belief that only material things exists? Or is it the believe that material things do exists? Is Idealism the idea that non-material things exists? Or is it the idea that ONLY non-material things exist i.e. the material world is not real? And how can anyone know which to believe when no one ever defines what it means to be "material". How is material defined? I have seen several threads debating on what is and what isn't considered material (ex. energy) so it seems there isn't even a common understanding of this.

    So with this void of definition, one side just assumes that there has to be more than what science tells us, therefore there are non-material things that exists and the other side claims that everything is material because nothing non-material has ever been found. This is because apparently the definition of material=everything that exists. So it tells us nothing. The conclusion is built into the definition.

    So what's the definition of material?
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2003
  21. Aug 6, 2003 #20
    Why the bias against materialism?

    because materialism is a bias in itself. It is an attempt to manipulate objectivity for subjective motive, which is most often, selfish and materialistic.
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