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Materialism

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Materialism
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PABUser avatarPosts: 382Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:34 pmLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Materialism

The philosopher John Gray (known for his anti-humanism) takes on "Scientific Materialism" in the BBC Radio 4 series Points of View, titled The Limits of Materialism

Materialism - the philosophy, not the perennial human tendency to pursue and accumulate material things - sees the universe as a physical system. Everything that exists in it must be some sort of matter, or something that emerges from matter. In a fully scientific view of the world, only material things are real. Everything else is just a phantom


He also states :
The belief that the world is composed only of physical things operating according to universal laws is metaphysical speculation, not a falsifiable theory.

and after all:
Science is a method of inquiry, whose results can't be known in advance. If scientific inquiry is the most powerful tool for increasing human knowledge, it's because science is continuously changing our view of the world. The prevailing creed of scientific materialism is actually a contradiction, for science isn't a fixed view of things, still less a dogmatic faith.


However, i see this as mistaken. First of all to propose that the world is only composed of physical things operating to universal laws is a falsifiable theory. You can find (a) a physical thing not operating to universal laws and (b) a non physical thing.

John Gray is creating a bit of a straw man. But this got me thinking about..
*Immaterial but Objective.*

Many forms of energy could be said to be non-physical but are fully objective. Just as human abstractions (and emotions) tend to have no material entity yet they are still objective- such as abstract concept of "Axe" that refers to all axes doesn't exist, but we form the concept of axe through creating and using axes. Sound is a good example, you cannot physically with your body pick up a shout or a whisper, the sound itself is in a sense immaterial. But sound is the effect of a wave through a medium (matter) either air , water etc. And it is fully objective i.e. recordable, changeable -intractable.
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil...there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy." Albert Einstein
Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:52 pm
DustniteUser avatarPosts: 517Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:11 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Materialism

Seems like Mr. Gray is projecting his own particular failures in philosophy on science...
"But this is irrelevant because in either case, whether a god exists or not, whether your God (with a capital G) exists or not, it doesn't matter. We both are, in either case, evolved apes. " - Nesslig20
Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:54 pm
Master_Ghost_KnightContributorUser avatarPosts: 2630Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:57 pmLocation: Netherlands Gender: Male

Post Re: Materialism

It looks to me, that his immaterial things are quite indistinguishable from the sort of thing, that if you look very carefully at them they are nor really there.
And the, they are not really there part describes it quite well.
"I have an irrefutable argument for the existence of...." NO, STOP! You are already wrong!
Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:10 pm
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2340Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Materialism

PAB wrote: In a fully scientific view of the world, only material things are real. Everything else is just a phantom


He was fine up to this point. Science deals with many things that aren't material. In a fully scientific view of the world, there are only phenomena, and not all of them are material or physical.

He also states :
The belief that the world is composed only of physical things operating according to universal laws is metaphysical speculation, not a falsifiable theory.


He's right about that, but still guilty of the false conflation between science and materialism. This belief is materialism, not science.

and after all:
Science is a method of inquiry, whose results can't be known in advance. If scientific inquiry is the most powerful tool for increasing human knowledge, it's because science is continuously changing our view of the world. The prevailing creed of scientific materialism is actually a contradiction, for science isn't a fixed view of things, still less a dogmatic faith.


Can't disagree with anything there. Of course, when he smuggles that false conflation in, it all goes tits up.

However, i see this as mistaken. First of all to propose that the world is only composed of physical things operating to universal laws is a falsifiable theory.


Well, that's certainly true. Not only is it falsifiable, it has been falsified. The world is made of phenomena, some material, others not.

You can find (a) a physical thing not operating to universal laws and (b) a non physical thing.


I'd love to see a citation for '(a)'.

John Gray is creating a bit of a straw man. But this got me thinking about..
*Immaterial but Objective.*

Many forms of energy could be said to be non-physical but are fully objective.


No. This is simply incorrect. There are no forms of energy that are non-physical. In physics, the physical is, loosely, 'that which affects the energy-momentum four-vector'. There is no form of energy that doesn't satisfy this criterion.

Just as human abstractions (and emotions) tend to have no material entity yet they are still objective- such as abstract concept of "Axe" that refers to all axes doesn't exist, but we form the concept of axe through creating and using axes.


Certainly the conceptual is non-physical.

Sound is a good example, you cannot physically with your body pick up a shout or a whisper, the sound itself is in a sense immaterial. But sound is the effect of a wave through a medium (matter) either air , water etc. And it is fully objective i.e. recordable, changeable -intractable.


Actually, sound is a terrible example, not least because sound is physical, under the loose definition I gave above. Sound is energy, and affects the energy-momentum four-vector, thus it is physical.
Sun Dec 01, 2013 5:44 pm
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