One indispensible condition for being a materialist is a failure to give any adequate account for what material is. The term is rarely defined, and when it is it is defined poorly. If, for example, one says material is any extended thing, then what are building materials? Extended buildings? What are course materials? Things that extend class? Similar arguments apply to calling material “what has mass” or any other such thing.

We call something material for its being what the Medivals called an “id ex quo”, a that from which or a that out of which something is made. Course materials are things that a course is made out of, building materials are things buildings are made from. Material is a certain principle which by nature is ordered to something else as its end and form, a building for example, or the end of a course. As material, moreover, the thing can’t account for why it moved to this end or term at all- this requires some action of a thing other than the matter. The case is no different for natural things, even the atom, is that from which something is made, insofar as we are considering it as matter.

About these ads

5 Comments

  1. Jeff G said,

    January 30, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Two things immediately come to mind:

    1) I think the essential feature of materialism is that the most basic elements of the universe are entirely mindless, be they deterministic or utterly indeterministic.

    2) I don’t see how one’s positing non-material entities makes things easier to define. In other words, your criticism seems to apply to materialists, idealists, dualists, etc.

  2. a thomist said,

    January 30, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    1.) so material means “to lack mind”?

    2.) I never appealed to ease of definition as a criterion.

  3. mtraven said,

    January 31, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Um, what do you think physicists do all day long?

  4. a thomist said,

    January 31, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Physics, I guess. Where you speaking to me or Jeff?

  5. mtraven said,

    February 1, 2007 at 4:20 am

    I was responding to this:

    One indispensible condition for being a materialist is a failure to give any adequate account for what material is.

    The point was that physicists (who are generally materialists) have done quite a bit to give an account of what matter is.

    But I wandered in here from an entirely different universe of discourse and will probably wander right back out again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 159 other followers

%d bloggers like this: