noun \mə-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌli-zəm\

: a way of thinking that gives too much importance to material possessions rather than to spiritual or intellectual things

philosophy : the belief that only material things exist

Full Definition of MATERIALISM

a :  a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter
b :  a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress
c :  a doctrine that economic or social change is materially caused — compare historical materialism
:  a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things
ma·te·ri·al·ist \-list\ noun or adjective
ma·te·ri·al·is·tic \-ˌtir-ē-ə-ˈlis-tik\ adjective
ma·te·ri·al·is·ti·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


  1. the materialism of modern society

First Known Use of MATERIALISM


Other Philosophy Terms

dialectic, dualism, epistemology, existentialism, metaphysics, ontology, sequitur, solipsism, transcendentalism


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In metaphysics, the doctrine that all of reality is essentially of the nature of matter. In the philosophy of mind, one form of materialism, sometimes called central-state materialism, asserts that states of the mind are identical to states of the human brain. In order to account for the possible existence of mental states in creatures that do not share the human nervous system (e.g., octopuses and Martians), proponents of functionalism identified particular mental states with the functional or causal roles those states play with respect to other physical and mental states of the organism; this allows for the “multiple realizability” of the same mental state in different physical states. (Strictly speaking, functionalism is compatible with both materialism and non-materialism, though most functionalists are materialists.) As a form of materialism, functionalism is “nonreductive,” because it holds that mental states cannot be completely explained in terms that refer only to what is physical. Though not identical with physical states, mental states are said to “supervene” on them, in the sense that there can be no change in the former without some change in the latter. “Eliminative” materialism rejects any aspect of the mental that cannot be explained wholly in physical terms; in particular, it denies the existence of the familiar categories of mental state presupposed in folk psychology. See also identity theory; mind-body problem.


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