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Materialism

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Our last post introduced “Materialism”, which is the belief that says nothing exists except matter. The Oxford Dictionary app also mentions “movement”, but I think there is another term that describes movement more. This other term is “Naturalism”. Let’s focus on Materialism first. It is the belief that nothing exists but matter.


Is it true that nothing exists but matter?


I think we need to clarify upfront: What is “matter”? If Materialism is true, "matter" would have to include both seen and unseen matter. Unseen matter would certainly include air. What about the "light" that helps us see the things around us? We cannot touch it, or literally “see” it. However, I think most of us would agree that light is matter. If visible light is matter, then electromagnetic waves must be matter too, as visible light is a form of electromagnetic waves. If electromagnetic wave is matter, then the invisible gravitational waves should also be considered as matter. Another kind of unseen matter is dark matter. Its existence is still unproven, but most people would assume it exists and it occupies the Universe more than the ordinary matter that we can see.


As we can see, our physical universe has a lot of “matter” that may not be the kind of ordinary matter that come to our mind when we see the word “matter”.


Moreover, we need to be clear about where we expect to find matter. Do we include the things that are not found in the physical universe, but in our mind? They can be mental constructs such as Geometrical shapes, like a perfect straight line or a perfect circle. These do not sound like “matter” in its ordinary daily usage. Do we consider “circle” to be objects that has an existence? It is a definite “yes” according to Plato. In fact, Plato considered the world of “Forms”, where we can find "circle", to be the most accurate reality.


It may seem that the boundary between “matter” and “non-matter” is becoming blurry as we think about these mental constructs.


There are other “things” that may be classified as “matter” by some but not by all people. They include “Feelings”, “Love”, “Moral”, and I think my readers can find more of this kind.


Is it true that nothing but matters exist? Unless we carefully define what matter is and what boundary we are talking about and narrow down precisely the meaning of every word in the definition of Materialism, we can hardly “believe” that it is true.


In fact, I would say that the belief we label as “Materialism” is simply not true. There is more than just “matter” in this Universe as my next post would discuss.




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