Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What is Materialism?

Dictionary.com lists the primary definition of materialism as follows:
preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
I would like to offer for the purposes of this blog and the Materialists Anonymous Google Group the following definition:
The belief that the physical universe as we know it is the most important (or only) thing there is.
Why this definition? Because it also covers religious materialists of the type who think that what you put in your mouth or what you do with certain body parts is more important that what you put in your mind and heart. It also covers the belief that the physical universe is not all there is, but that we don't have any access to or contact with anywhere else until after death. This is really just the other side of the materialist coin.

If the physical world as we know it is not all that exists, what else is there? Well, that little phrase "as we know it" holds the answer. Are there places and events the scientists don't know about because the places can't be detected by our instruments, and the math doesn't work for the events? Or, even worse, stuff that we don't even bother to look for because we're not expecting to find anything? Phenomena that perfectly sane people will swear to have experienced that don't fit into our scientific models? I'm going to say yes to all of the above, even though I can't prove it according to established scientific method. That's now how science works in practice anyway. New phenomena are either ignored until the weight of evidence becomes overwhelming (like asteroids), or the new thing discovered and the justification either provided later or assumed not to be necessary once the occurrence is considered to be common knowledge.

So what's the answer? Let's find out what we can on our own for now. The scientists will catch up. Or not.

1 comment:

The Seeker said...

I say yes to all of the above too. I think there is much more than we know to life...