Chapter  4 : Metaphysics


(NOTE:  You must read only those linked materials that are preceded by the capitalized word READ.)

MATERIALISM is a tradition of thought in which all things that exist are made up of matter in some way.  To update this theory it might be restated that all existence is made up of energy in some form.  Matter is a form of energy.  All things that exist are made of energy, atoms, molecules, forces and other entities that consist of energy.  There are no non-physical or non-material existents.

READ: Materialism in Catholic Encyclopedia  

Philosophical Materialism by  Richard C. Vitzthum

In this view all human behavior is explained in physical terms.  There are no minds separate from the brain.  There are no souls or spirits and no god.  For those who hold the position of materialism there is the need to account for the existence of such entities as emotions and thoughts as physical events in the brains of humans.  The Neurosciences have made considerable progress in establishing such entities as physical.

To explain human behavior there is evolutionary biology and sociobiology, which attempt to explain all behavior in physical terms.  Humans are conditioned to respond to stimuli.  They have basic physical drives and they have the evolutionary drive to continue their species.  This explains mating behavior and even the actions of some humans to save the lives of other humans, even at their own expense.  It is all about continue the genetic inheritance, the chromosomal patterns. (More on this in the chapter on the MIND BODY Problem.)

NATURALISM: For John Dewey, an American Pragmatist, his version of materialism was empirical naturalism

For an overview of a variety of four Metaphysical positions that are Naturalism:

Ancient Naturalism


Modern Scientific Naturalism




Dialectical materialism

 none of these accept as real anything that is beyond nature, READ: Dallas  Roark

Challenges to this Metaphysical Position: Materialism

In some manner ideas or thoughts would need to be demonstrated as being physical and made up of energy or atoms and molecules.

Response to this challenge:   Discharges of brain cells would constitute a physical event and if ideas could be linked to brain states or to patterns of neural excitation then ideas would be established as being physical. 

If such a demonstration could be made then also it would be possible to implant ideas into the brains of humans by in some manner stimulating the neurons of a brain.

Such a possibility is depicted in many works of science fiction in stories books and movies.  One such movie is INCEPTION. There are many others.  IF the premise of any of them were to be realized then that would constitute support for materialism as a metaphysical position.

EVIDENCE in support of Materialist Position: for examples of experiments to support the claim that thoughts and images are simply physical actions in a physical brain see this: (1) reading ideas in a brain and (2) implanting images and ideas into a brain  see these experiments

VIDEO: Consciousness: How the Brain Creates the Mind  by Sid Koulder cognitive neuroscientist neuro-biological basis for consciousness presentation at at NYUAD conference  74 minutes

VIDEO: brain hallucinates your conscious reality by neuroscientist Anil Seth 17 minutes


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Introduction to Philosophy by Philip A. Pecorino is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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