From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Consciousness is what makes the mind-body problem really intractable. Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it obviously wrong. The recent wave of reductionist euphoria has produced several analyses of mental phenomena and mental concepts designed to explain the possibility of some variety of materialism, psychophysical identification, or reduction. But the problems dealt with are those common to this type of reduction and other types, and what makes the mind-body problem unique, and unlike the water-H2O problem or the Turing machine-IBM machine problem or the lightning-electrical discharge problem or the gene-DNA problem or the oak tree-hydrocarbon problem, is ignored." --"What Is it Like to Be a Bat?"
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter or energy; 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, and reality is identical with the actually occurring states of energy and matter.
To many philosophers, 'materialism' is synonymous with 'physicalism'. However, materialists have historically held that everything is made of matter, but physics has shown that gravity, for example, is not made of matter in the traditional sense of "'an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist'… So it is tempting to use 'physicalism' to distance oneself from what seems a historically important but no longer scientifically relevant thesis of materialism, and related to this, to emphasize a connection to physics and the physical sciences." Therefore much of the generally philosophical discussion below on materialism may be relevant to physicalism.
Also related to materialism are the ideas of methodological naturalism (i.e. "let's at least do science as though physicalism is true") and metaphysical naturalism (i.e. "the physical world is all that exists").
- History of materialism, Atheism in the Age of the Enlightenment, History of Materialism and Critique of its Present Importance
During the Enlightenment Thomas Hobbes and Pierre Gassendi represent the materialist tradition, in opposition to René Descartes' attempts to provide the natural sciences with dualist foundations. Later are materialist and atheist Jean Meslier, Julien Offroy de La Mettrie, Paul-Henri Thiry Baron d'Holbach, Denis Diderot and other minor French enlightenment thinkers, as well as Ludwig Feuerbach, and, in England, the pedestrian traveller John "Walking" Stewart, whose insistence that all matter is endowed with a moral dimension had a major impact on the philosophical poetry of William Wordsworth.
Schopenhauer wrote that "...materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forgets to take account of himself." He claimed that an observing subject can only know material objects through the mediation of the brain and its particular organization. The way that the brain knows determines the way that material objects are experienced. "Everything objective, extended, active, and hence everything material, is regarded by materialism as so solid a basis for its explanations that a reduction to this (especially if it should ultimately result in thrust and counter-thrust) can leave nothing to be desired. But all this is something that is given only very indirectly and conditionally, and is therefore only relatively present, for it has passed through the machinery and fabrication of the brain, and hence has entered the forms of time, space, and causality, by virtue of which it is first of all presented as extended in space and operating in time."
Base materialism (bassesse) is a philosophical concept developed by Georges Bataille during the late 1920s and early 1930s as an attempt to break with mainstream materialism and a reaction against what he considered the "servile idealism" of Bretonian surrealism.
- Christian materialism
- Cultural materialism
- Dialectical materialism
- Economic materialism
- Eliminative materialism
- French materialism
- Grotesque body
- Historical materialism
- Madhyamaka - a philosophy of middle way
- Material feminism
- Marxist philosophy of nature
- Metaphysical naturalism
- Naturalism (philosophy)
- Physical ontology
- Philosophy of mind
- Reality in Buddhism
- Substance theory
- Transcendence (religion)
- Work of art