<metaphysics, philosophy of mind> the view according to which the only thing that really exists in the world is matter in its various states and movements (commonly atoms or other physical particles). Thus materialism is the opposite of idealism. Note that many philosophers and scientists now use the terms "material" and "physical" interchangeably (for a version of physicalism distinct from materialism, see physicalism. Materialism considers any talk of, say, the soul to be complete nonsense and a throwback to the bad old days of spiritualism and vitalism in philosophy. Note that because matter can be completely known by means of physical laws and mathematical description (see reductionism), materialism tends to be used to lend heavy support to determinism. (References from behaviorism, determinism, idealism, monism, reductionism, and vitalism.) Recommended Reading: Julien Offray de La Mettrie, Machine Man and Other Writings, ed. by Ann Thomson (Cambridge, 1996); Richard C. Vitzthum, Materialism: An Affirmative History and Definition (Prometheus, 1995); Materialism and the Mind-Body Problem, ed. by David M. Rosenthal (Hackett, 2000); Jennifer Trusted, The Mystery of Matter (Palgrave, 1999); and Physicalism and Its Discontents, ed. by Carl Gillett and Barry Loewer (Cambridge, 2001).
Based on [The Ism Book] and the [Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind] [A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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