DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC098-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved February 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Materialism is a set of related theories which hold that all entities and processes are composed of – or are reducible to – matter, material forces or physical processes. All events and facts are explainable, actually or in principle, in terms of body, material objects or dynamic material changes or movements. In general, the metaphysical theory of materialism entails the denial of the reality of spiritual beings, consciousness and mental or psychic states or processes, as ontologically distinct from, or independent of, material changes or processes. Since it denies the existence of spiritual beings or forces, materialism typically is allied with atheism or agnosticism.

The forms of materialism extend from the ancient Greek atomistic materialism through eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scientifically based theories, to recent sophisticated defences of various types of materialism.

    Citing this article:
    Stack, George J.. Materialism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC098-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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