Materialism

Materialism
A 2009 (Ѻ) SlideShare.net “–isms” description of materialism.
In science, materialism is a doctrine which holds that the only thing which exists is matter, and the forces or energies that control matter, which the thus form the basis of all explanation, and that that which does not have a materialist basis does not exist.

Extreme materialism
The following is Balfour Stewart and Peter Tait’s 1875 take, penned in the wake of the 1874 Tyndall-Stewart-Tait debate, on what they refer to as the “extreme materialism” view, Irish physicist John Tyndall, supposedly, being the archetype representative of this view: [10]

“When a certain number of material particles consisting of phosphorus, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and perhaps some other elements, are, in consequence of the operations of their mutual forces, in certain positions with respect to each other, and in certain states of motion, consciousness is the result, but whenever this relative state is brought to an end, there is also an end of consciousness and the sense of individual existence, while however the particles of phosphorus, carbon, etc., remain as truly as ever.”

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Terminology
In recent years a certain vocabulary has arisen to categorize or label certain views or perspectives:

Rational materialism – defines people with the least active forms of the D4 dopamine receptor; whereas, conversely, people with the most active forms of the D4 dopamine receptor are likely to believe in miracles and to be skeptical of science (link).

Atheistic materialism – a Francis Collins term, a physical chemist and Obama administration head of US science funding (NIH); referring to someone who believes in the conclusions of modern science and does not believe in god.

“As believers, you are right to hold fast to the concept of God as Creator; you are right to hold fast to the truths of the Bible; you are right to hold fast to the conclusions that science offers no answers to the most pressing questions of human existence; and you are right to hold fast to the certainty that claims of atheistic materialism must be steadfastly resisted.” [7]

Deistic materialism – a Francis Collins term; referring to someone who believes in (a) a universe comprised of matter and energy operated according to the laws of science but also (b) a universe created by a deity, 13.7 billion years ago, using “precisely tuned” parameters, of which evolution is a part, but one in which moral law exists, in which humans have a knowledge of good and evil, a free will to choose between these two distinctions, and an immortal soul.
Materialistic Wall (Bud Carroll)
A 2002 depiction of the so-called "materialistic wall" by religious writer Bud Carroll, which, supposedly, blocks out notions of purpose, significance, and reason for one's existence. [8]

Scientific materialism – supposedly represented by people like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett (link).

Eliminative materialism – a view that topics, terms, and theories which do not have a material explanation will eventually be eliminated from the corpus modern science.

Dualism
The opposite view to the materialism view, supposedly, is dualism, that the mind and body are somehow distinct, Rene Descartes said to be representative of this latter school of thought. [5]

History
The essence of the materialistic theory likely originated in the circa 450BC works of Greek philosophers Leucippus, and his atomic theory, and Empedocles and his standard model of physics. Other dominant materialists are said to include: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Isaac Newton. [5]

The publication of German philosopher-physician Ludwig Buchner’s 1855 Matter and Force (Kraft and Stoff), is said to be the champion of ‘scientific materialism’, in which he states that those who talk of a creative power producing the world out of nothing are ignorant. [6]

In 1865, German philosopher and sociologist Friedrich Lange (1828-1875) wrote a History of Materialism, which was influential to those including: John Tyndall and Friedrich Nietzsche; wherein Lange speaks, among other things, of Francis Bacon’s high appreciation of Democritus and his atomic theory, Buchner's "extreme materialism", among others. [9]

American physicist Richard Feynman gives a good overview of the materialistic philosophy when he argued in 1985 that all of existence, aside from gravitational phenomena and radioactivity, can be explained by the theory of light and matter (or photons and electrons) otherwise known as quantum electrodynamics. In his own words: [2]

“I would like to again impress you with the vast range of phenomena that the theory of quantum electrodynamics describes: It’s easier to say it backwards: the theory describes all the phenomena of the physical world except the gravitational effect, the thing that holds you in your seats, and radioactive phenomena, which involve nuclei shifting in their energy levels. So if we leave out gravity and radioactivity, what have we got left? Gasoline burning in automobiles, foam and bubbles, the hardness of salt or copper, the stiffness of steel. In fact, biologists are trying to interpret as much as they can about life in terms of chemistry, and as I have already explained, the theory behind chemistry is quantum electrodynamics.”

In other words, Feynman believes that the theory of life and biology, the study of life, will eventually be reduced to the pure materialistic views of chemistry, which in turn can be explained in terms of the pure materialistic views of physics or of quantum electrodynamics, and thermodynamics.
Extreme materialism
Schematic diagram of eliminative materialism, a type of extreme materialism which suggest that some sciences can be reduced (blue); that those theories which are in principle irreducible will eventually be eliminated (orange); and some of the so-called "soft sciences" (hatched crossouts) are in the process of being reduced to "hard sciences" of chemistry and physics. [3]

Eliminative materialism
The extreme version of materialism is called “eliminative materialism”, originating in the 1970s, which holds that all non-material based theories, such as will (or free will), consciousness, biology, life, folk psychology, terms such as love, hate, and desire, etc., will eventually be eliminated from science once the subject is reduced to its essential material physics, in the way phlogiston theory was eliminated from chemistry, impetus was discarded with the rise of Newtonian physics, or the way the flat earth theory has been eliminated from geology. [3]

An example of an objector to material reduction is English moral philosopher Mary Midgley who argues that suggests that the reduction of chemistry to physics is problematic and the reduction of biology to chemistry is impossible. She points to sentences like "John was allowed home from prison at last on Sunday" suggesting that this would be impossible to reduce to physical terms since the details of the physical movement are irrelevant to the meaning which depends on complex non-physical concepts. Her stance is that "human beings are complex wholes, about which we know really very little" and that attempts to reduce this are naive, unjustified and doomed to failure. [4]

Quotes
The following are related quotes:

Empedocles cannot be described as a ‘materialist’, because with him force and matter are still fundamentally separate.”
Friedrich Lange (1875), The History of Materialism, Volume One (pg. 33)

See also
Materialistic morality
Physicalism

References
2. Feynman, Richard P. (1985). QED: the Strange Theory of Light and Matter (pgs. 5-8). Princeton University Press.
3. Eliminative materialism – Wikipedia.
4. (a) Midgley, Mary. (2003). The Myths We Live By (chemistry, 8+ pgs). Psychology Press.
(b) Mary Midgley – Wikipedia.
5. De Quincey, Christian. (2002). Radical Nature: Rediscovering the Soul of Matter (pg. xiv). Invisible Cities Press.
6. Silver, Daniel S. (2007). “My Soul’s an Amphicheircal Knot: the Last Poem of James Clerk Maxwell”, SouthAlabama.edu.
7. (a) Collins, Francis S. (2006). The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (pg. 178). Free Press.
(b) Harris, Sam. (2010). The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Moral Values (pg. 164). Free Press.
8. Carroll, Bud. (2002). The Materialistic Wall: a Catalyst for an Awakening: Grow in Awareness of Life—Here and Hereafter (Scribd). Trafford.
9. (a) Lange, Friedrich A. (1865). The History of Materialism and Criticism of its Present Importance: Materialism in Antiquity (translator: Ernest Thomas). Houghton, Osgood. & Co, 1879.
(b) History of Materialism and Critique of its Present Importance – Wikipedia.
10. Stewart, Balfour and Tait, Peter G. (1875). The Unseen Universe: or Physical Speculations on a Future State (pgs. 48-49). Macmillan.

Further reading
● Lilly, William S. (1886). “Materialism and Morality” (txt), The Fortnightly Review, Vol. XLVI ; in: The Popular Science Monthly, pgs. 474-##.

Videos
● Churchland, Patricia. (2009). “On Eliminative Materialism” (Ѻ), LennyBound, Jul 29.

External links
Materialism – Wikipedia.
Cultural materialism (anthropology) – Wikipedia.

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