- This article primarily focuses on the general concepts of matter and existence. For usage related to the prioritization of spending resources, see economic materialism.
"Materialism" has also frequently been understood to designate an entire scientific, "rationalistic" world view, particularly by religious thinkers opposed to it and also by Marxists. It typically contrasts with dualism, phenomenalism, idealism, and vitalism.
For Marxism, materialism is central to the "materialist conception of history", which centers on the empirical world of actual human activity (practice, including labor) and institutions created, reproduced, or destroyed by that activity. In this view, subjective thoughts and speech affect the historical process only via practice.
The definition of "matter" in modern philosophical materialism extends to all scientifically observable entities such as energy, forces, and the curvature of space. In this view, one might speak of the "material world".
Varieties of materialism
- Christian materialism
- Eliminative materialism
- Emergent materialism
- French materialism
- Reductive materialism
History of materialism
Ancient Greek philosophers like Parmenides, Epicurus, and even Aristotle prefigure later materialists. Later on, Thomas Hobbes and Pierre Gassendi represent the materialist tradition, in opposition to René Descartes' attempts to provide the natural sciences with dualist foundations. Later materialists included Denis Diderot and other French enlightenment thinkers, as well as Ludwig Feuerbach.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, turning the idealist dialectics of Georg Hegel "upside down", provided materialism with a view on processes of quantitative and qualitative change called dialectical materialism, and with a materialist account of the course of history, known as historical materialism.
In recent years, Paul and Patricia Churchland have advocated an extreme form of materialism, eliminativist materialism, which holds that mental phenomena simply do not exist at all -- that talk of the mental reflects a totally spurious "folk psychology" that simply has no basis in fact, something like the way that folk science speaks of demon-caused illness.
- Churchland, Paul (1981). Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes. The Philosophy of Sciece. Boyd, Richard; P. Gasper; J. D. Trout. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press.
- Moser, P. K.; J. D. Trout, Ed. (1995) Contemorary Materialism: A Reader. New York, Routledge.
- Vitzthum, Richard C. (1995) Materialism: An Affirmative History and Definition. Amhert, New York, Prometheus Books.
- Buchner, L. (1920). Force and Matter. New York, Peter Eckler Publishing CO.
- Maetmere, Man The machine
- The Fight for Reality