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Monday 13 December 2004


Definition : Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions.

Even mind and consciousness are by-products or epiphenomena of material processes (the biochemistry of the human brain and nervous system, for example) without which they cannot exist. According to this doctrine the material creates and determines consciousness, not vice versa.

Materialist theories are mainly divided into three groups :
- Naive materialism identifies the material world with specific elements (e.g. the scheme of the four elements—fire, air, water and earth—devised by the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles).
- Metaphysical materialism examines separated parts of the world in a static, isolated environment.
- Dialectical materialism adapts the Hegelian dialectic for materialism, examining parts of the world in relation to each other within a dynamic environment.


Materialism is closely related to physicalism , the view that all that exists is ultimately physical.

Philosophical physicalism has evolved from materialism with the discoveries of the physical sciences to incorporate more sophisticated notions of physicality than mere ordinary matter, such as: spacetime, physical energies and forces, dark matter, and so on.

Thus the term "physicalism" is preferred over "materialism" by some, while others use the terms as if they are synonymous.

Philosophies contradictory to materialism or physicalism include idealism, pluralism, dualism, and other forms of monism.

See also

- Julien Offray de La Mettrie (1709-1751)


- La Mettrie : Un matérialisme radical. by Morhilat C. Presses Universitaires de France - PUF (July 1, 1997). ISBN: 2130485820

- Trembley’s polyp, La Mettrie, and eighteenth-century French materialism. by Aram Vartanian. Bobbs-Merrill (January 1, 1950). ASIN: B0007GVFS8

- Materialism and society in the mid-eighteenth century: La Mettrie’s Discours préliminaire. by Ann Thomson. Droz (January 1, 1981). ASIN: B0006E9ZB0