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Materialism

Related: enlightenment - human - machine

Homme machine (1747) - Julien Offray de La Mettrie
London : Printed for G. Smith, 1750.

Definition

In one view, materialism expresses the view that the only thing that exists is matter; if anything else, such as mental events, exists, then it is reducible to matter.

"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.

Materialism has also developed as a pejorative label for a lifestyle pursuing wealth, money, and objects rather than spiritual or mental development.

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". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism [Aug 2004]

Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture - Marvin Harris

  1. Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture - Marvin Harris [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Synopsis Attributing the origins and development of culture to the ways various societies adapt to their particular environments, Harris pits his theory of cultural materialism against such alternative theories of culture as Wilson's sociobiology and LeviStrauss's structuralism. Product Description: Cultural Materialism, published in 1979, was Marvin Harris's first full-length explication of the theory with which his work has been associated. While Harris has developed and modified some of his ideas over the past two decades, generations of professors have looked to this volume as the essential starting point for explaining the science of culture to students. Now available again after a hiatus, this edition of "Cultural Materialism" contains the complete text of the original book plus a new introduction by Harris (with B.J. Brown) that updates his ideas and examines the impact that the book and theory have had on anthropological theorizing.

    Homme machine (1747) - Julien Offray de La Mettrie


    Man a machine : wherein the several systems of philosophers, in respect to the soul of man, are examin'd, the different states of the soul are shewn to be co-relative to those of the body, the diversity between men and other animals, is proved to arise from the different quantity and quality of brains, the law of nature is explained, as relative to the whole animal creation, the immateriality of an inward principle is by experiments and observations exploded, and a full detail is given of the several springs which move the human machine / translated from the French of Mons. de La Mettrie.

    La Mettrie's Man a machine is the culmination of the mechanistic physiology which had its origins in the late Renaissance and was given new impetus by Descartes. In fact, Man a machine is heavily dependent upon Descartes' Treatise of Man in spite of La Mettrie's criticisms of Descartes. To many it was the natural extension of Descartes bÍte machine doctrine and smacked of materialism. --http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/libraries/rare/modernity/lamettrie.html [Jun 2006]

    Julien Offray de La Mettrie (December 25, 1709 - November 11, 1751) was a French physician and philosopher, the earliest of the materialist writers of the Enlightenment. He has been claimed as a founder of cognitive science. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julien_Offray_de_La_Mettrie [Jun 2006]

    See also: 1740s - robots - materialism - enlightenment

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