Materialism: An Affirmative History and Definition
Western philosophy has generated a rich mosaic of theory about the nature of the world and humanity's place in it. Since the ancient Greeks, the search for the fundamentals of existence has led to the espousal of philosophical idealism (unchanging conceptual universals) on the one hand and an equally immutable (irreducible) physical materialism on the other. For centuries the tension between these views of the world has stimulated all philosophical inquiry. Today the debate remains as lively as ever. In Materialism: An Affirmative History and Definition Richard C. Vitzthum focuses on one side of this longstanding debate to offer the first comprehensive history and re-definition of materialist philosophy in more than a century. His is the first study ever to identify and analyze in detail the three masterpieces of pre-20th-century materialist literature: Lucretius' The Nature of Things (ca. 50 B.C.E.); Paul d'Holbach's 1770 System of Nature; and Ludwig Buechner's 1884 edition of Force and Matter. What's more, it is the first effort to evaluate 20th-century materialist literature in terms of the tradition as a whole. But Materialism is far more than intellectual history; it represents the first systematic effort to bring traditional materialism in line with the discoveries of modern physics. By substituting relativity and quantum theory for Newtonian mechanics, Vitzthum affirms that everything in the cosmos, including human consciousness, is explicable in terms of natural laws and reducible to fundamental principles of nature. But he posits a probabilistic materialism to replace the mechanistic determinism of d'Holbach and Buechner.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
5 other sections not shown
animals appear argues argument atoms basic beginning body Book brain Buechner called cause century chapter Churchland claim classical concept concludes consciousness consists cosmos d'Holbach death defined determined developed doctrine earth effect electrons energy everything evidence example existence experience explain fact feeling field final follows force four functions fundamental give happens human idea identical ignorance infinite intelligence kind knowledge known laws least less light lines living logical Lucretius mass materialism materialist mathematical matter means mechanics mental mind mind-brain moral motion move nature neurons never objects organic original particles philosophy physical produced puts quantum quantum mechanics reality reason reducible relativity religion rest result says scientific seems sense soul space supernatural symmetry theory things thought tion traditional truth twentieth-century units universe virtual wave whole