Materialism And Positivism Essay

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Materialism and
Positivism in the 19th
Christopher Spalding
Mr. Jones
AP European History
28 May 2015

n. the philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.

What is Materialism?
• Materialism as a worldview emphasizes sensory experience and material concerns to the exclusion of spiritual and religious considerations. • There are many terms associated with materialism •


Metaphysics of
• In metaphysics, the central premise of
Materialism is that only matter is real.
• There is no other, spiritual reality.
• In a sense, materialism might be understood as denying metaphysics altogether. • There is nothing beyond the observable, material world.

Anthropology of
• “Man is a body — a machine, an animal
— nothing more. (Ubersax, 4)”
• In Anthropology, the principle conjecture is that man has no free will.
• All of man’s thoughts and mental experiences are caused by and have no independent existence apart from biological brain states.

Epistemology of
• From a materialistic perspective of epistemology, all knowledge is taught.
• The means in which knowledge is taught is through direct observation and discursive logical reasoning.
• “Intuition, inspiration, or religious modes of knowledge are invalid because they are incapable of demonstration and experimental test. (Ubersax, 4)”

Ethics of Materialism
• The ethics of materialism state that sensory pleasure is the supreme good.
• A materialist believes that the best manner of life is an uninhibited acting on instinct to the maximum extent society permits.
• Ethically, materialism and naturalism are congruent in ideology.

Ethics of Materialism
• Ethical rightness, from a materialistic viewpoint, can only be determined relative to a particular situation and cultural frame of reference.
• This belief is similar to that of relativism
• Essentially, the end justifies the means.

Religion of Materialism
• Materialists are atheists.
• Atheism is the lack in a belief of a god or gods.

Politics of Materialism
• Society is a “bellum omnium contra omnes”. • This is the belief that society is at a war with itself at all times.
• Social Darwinism
• The “best” society is one that produces the greatest good for the greatest number. • Utilitarianism

Popular Materialist Theorist of the 19th Century
• Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels; authors

and anti-imperialists, philosophical inventors of Marxism and communism.
John Stewart
William Wordsworth
Ludwig Feuerbach; author of The Essence of
Christianity, Influential to Marx and Engels
Arthur Schopenhauer; philosopher and influencer to many

Marx’s Historical
1. The productive forces tend to develop throughout history
2. The nature of the productive relations of a given society is explained by the level of development of its productive forces 3. The character of the noneconomic institutions of society, especially its political-legal order, is explained by the character of its economic structures
4. The development of the productive forces periodically produces conflict between forces and relations.
5. “The [written] history of all existing hitherto society is the history of class struggles (The Communist Manifesto, 14)”

n. theory that theology and