materialism & idealism

I don’t think these two are necessarily distinct.

An idealist might say, “what’s real, and I mean really real, as is like philosophically real and all that truth with a capital T and all that kind of real, are things that like, you know, aren’t necessarily physical, as in like, things that are knowable without experience and what not”, or something like that. He might think that you know, matter is fine and good, but that our understanding of it is such that he is unsatisfied and requires the postulation of something above it.

Then a materialist might be like, “yo, yo, I mean like, shit is all made of matter, so like since we’ve never seen anything that isn’t made of matter, it isn’t that the world doesn’t make sense, just that we’ve yet to make sense of it based on what we have experienced to be the truth that all things are constructed of matter. So really we don’t need idealism and postulates of things not experienced, but just to revamp our understanding of things such that it can all make sense that things are matter and not non-matter or whatever.”

But what about the guy who says…“hey, you know, I think shit is all made out of matter, and so I wanna be a materialist, and because of that I don’t want to be an idealist, so like I mean, but, wait, there is shit that isn’t made of matter, shit like thoughts, or emotions or politics or something like that.” So then he thinks, “hmm…how can I reconcile my desire to be a materialist without accepting it that there is shit that doesn’t amount to matter out there?” And he’s like, “well, if all the definitions I have of any kind of matter fit into certain descriptive forms, then all I really have to do is say that the only essential property needed by a thing in order to qualify as matter, (and thus fit into my kind of materialism), is that it fits into the same kind of description as all the things that I call matter do, so long as the differences between these former non-material things are less than the differences that already exists in things generally accepted to be matter, then there’s no reason I can’t do it.”

So what’s the third guy? He might admit that love exists and that it’s not matter in a conventional physical sense, but he might be able to make sentences to describe it that carry the same truth bearing ability as sentences that we use to describe rocks or water or trees. I mean, is he a materialist so long as he defines matter broadly enough for things conventionally considered to be non material to fit into his theory?

What the hell am I talking about?

I guess what I’m asking is like, just because something isn’t directly understood to be physical, does it have to be excluded from a materialist’s ontology? Or can he just to math and logic tricks and say that oh yeah like, brain states are physical and are responsible for emotional states and what not so like everything is sort of guided by physical laws?

Can a materialist accept something that isn’t made of matter, but that is a result of, or is governed by the laws of physics, even in the most diluted statistical sense?

Doesn’t that make any sense?

Can you make a definition of “material” that includes everything? And if you could, what would it be like? Could you point to properties of things that are constructed of matter in the common sense view and even if those properties weren’t essential to the object’s being matter could you use them as the basis of a new definition of “matter” which could encompass everything even if some things weren’t essentially matter but fit into the new definition? Then even if you did all that would you still be a materialist in the commonly understood sense? Or would you be considered by typical materialists as someone who was possibly in imposter idealist type who was trying to make materialism absurd so that more people would buy books on idealism?

I don’t know, Smears. I’ve yet to hear a definition of materialism that has any real meaning or precision. I can have a discussion with somebody, and put forward views that are practically indistinguishable from materialism, and that most materialists would claim as materialistic views, but since I claim I’m not a “materialist” they’ll argue seemingly to the death about how crazy my views are. It’s fascinating, actually. I’ve thought of what a great psychology experiment it would make, if I played around with that in some sort of systematic way. I’d almost venture to say that ontology supervenes on psychology. It’s all about making you feel good.

The problem lies in language alone. Love does not exist - its manifestations exist. But saying it that way allows, in one way or another, Forms, or something like them. It’s reification.

But does “love is not physical - its manifestations are physical” say exactly the same thing? Or, “love is not substantial - its manifestations are substantial”? I wonder what “exist” could mean, if it’s not a synonym for either physical or substantial.

Particulars exist - I mean the countless actual manifestations. Generalisations such as love have no literal existence. Love is by no means a special case. Cats exist, catness, or Cat, does not.

Particular meaning occupies space?

But love is bound to a physical form, rising like steam from a kettle. It is necessitated by the way we reproduce, just as important to the furtherence of human life as is an umbilical cord or a kidney. It’s not that love manifests things, but that things manifest love - a memetic kind of pheremone.

Why is this thread in MB?

I wondered that too.

Smears? Can we make a move, here?

Where to? J/k, put it wherever you like sir.

K. Philo.

I guess, that maybe it comes down to how you define matter,what exactly , a materialist must believe to be a materialist at all and what qualifies to you as being existant. I mean, idealists don’t deny the existence of material things do they? I suppose you could try and come up with an extreme version, (I’m sure this has been done), that doesn’t, but I don’t think that it’s the common sense view that idealists deny the existence of matter. I dunno…so are they necessarily distinct? Does a necessary distinction have to be one thing about each thing which negates the possibility of something essential to the other thing? It seems like if they were totally polarized, like x, -x then you would have a necessary distinction, like “yes, not yes”, but if you have something like “yes, no” then there’s room in the middle for maybe. I dunno if this makes sense.

I think experimentalism (i dunno if this is the name for it) is the middle ground, sort of in line with Dewey. It’s not just blank observation and naming of material things, and it’s also not making up idea’s out of thin air. It’s the whole experience, with the world we sense and the feelings and idea’s we have, tested back and forth. Concepts need not describe actual material things to be of use. For instance, a lot of people find identity a useful idea, yet there’s no such thing as a persisting unified I. The “material existence” of something is not allways all that relevant.

Yeah. I don’t think the material existence of things is always the most relevant aspect of a thing either. Sometimes is it though.