Discussions on the topic of the materialistic worldview are practically not conducted on the pages of electronic and print media.
This philosophical movement is widespread on all five continents. Such coverage is associated with the technogenic development of human civilization, the foundation of which is based on a materialistic understanding of the exact sciences. In the 21st century, due to the collapse of the socialist bloc, the movement does not develop.
The foundations of the materialistic worldview were laid in the era of Ancient Greece as early as the 4th-6th centuries BCE. Materialistic philosophy in Europe was actively formed in the 15th and 16th centuries due to the development of natural science and experimental science. The modern understanding of materialism is inextricably linked with the activities of thinkers of the Enlightenment. In the 19th century, the system of materialism was enriched by the dialectical teaching of Hegel, and then by the dialectical philosophy of K. Marx, F. Engels, V. Ulyanov-Lenin.
A brief history
In the world philosophical tradition, materialistic ideas originated within the framework of the ancient Eastern tradition (Ancient China, India, Japan). According to modern ideas, Ajita Kesakambali (India) and Wing Chun (China) are considered to be the first thinkers developing the categories and concepts of materialism.
The most complete and systematic development of the materialistic worldview is characteristic of the philosophers of the Milesian school in Ancient Greece (Thales of Miletus, Anaximander, Anaximenes). In the 7th century BC. these thinkers proposed the concept of “primary matter”, which, as a substance, is the material fundamental principle of the universe.
During the period of the early European Middle Ages, due to the active development of the ideas of idealism, the materialistic doctrine was practically ousted from philosophical discourse. Separate ideas of materialism in the 11th-12th centuries are reflected in the works of Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Roger Bacon. During the Renaissance (15th-16th centuries), early European materialistic worldviews were formed in the philosophical systems of Giordano Bruno and Leonardo da Vinci.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is considered to be the founder of materialism in its modern conception. His ideas find active followers among the philosophers of the French Enlightenment, such as D. Diderot, J. Lametrie, P. Holbach.
In the 19th century, the concept of dialectical and then historical materialism (K. Marx, F. Engels, V. Ulyanov-Lenin), developed on the basis of Hegel’s philosophy, was organically interwoven into the system of materialistic teaching.
In the 20th – 21st centuries . the interest of philosophers in the materialistic direction is gradually fading. This philosophical system is of interest today in the context of the history of world philosophical thought, as well as in the framework of the subsequent development of dialectics.
The philosophical system of materialism considers the world as a self-sufficient objectively existing phenomenon outside of human consciousness. Materialism rejects the concept of the Creator (God, Idea, Spirit, etc.) as the primary source of the material Universe. At the same time, human consciousness is interpreted as the result of the evolution of the organic world.Thus, materialism offers an unambiguous answer to the so-called “Basic Question of philosophy”, which reads as follows: what is primary: matter or consciousness? As a consequence, within the framework of materialism, it is considered that the world is a natural development of matter, and consciousness is able to objectively cognize and change it through practical human activity.
Within the framework of dialectical materialism, the fundamental nature of being – matter is considered as an abstraction that is formed in human consciousness as a result of the impact on the senses of objectively existing things and objects. Thus, an idea of the objective world is formed, the properties of which can be verified through the practical interaction of a person with things and objects.
The universal matter is considered as the eternal primordial basis, it has always existed and is infinite in time and space. Matter has an objective quality – movement, which is inseparable from the existence of matter itself (all objects and objects are in continuous motion at both micro and macro levels). All objects of the material world are closely interconnected, while matter is inseparable from human thinking. A person is aware of this world through reflection (the brain is able to objectively perceive reality, that is, to realize it as it really is, with or without the presence of a person).
The doctrine of historical materialism, developed by K. Marx, F. Engels, V. Ulyanov-Lenin in the 19-20 centuries. offers a materialistic interpretation of human history and social progress. It is based on the understanding of labor and productive forces as the determining factors that shape human consciousness and the life of mankind. At the same time, the creators of history and the driving force of progress are the people themselves, who have the will. The communist formation is recognized as the pinnacle of the evolution of society, which provides for the elimination of classes and estates, social and property equality and the complete renunciation of ownership of the means of production.
Biographies of the creators
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). English thinker, founder of political philosophy. Born in Westport (England) in the family of a priest, graduated from Oxford University, collaborated with F. Bacon. In 1640 he emigrated to Paris, in 1651 in England he published his main philosophical work – “Leviathan or The Matter, Form and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil”
Karl Marx (1818-1883). German thinker, economist, writer, journalist, public figure. The founder of the ideas of Marxism, dialectical materialism and materialistic understanding of history. In 1849, he was exiled with his family from Germany, lived in exile in England. Main works: “Economic and philosophical manuscripts”, “To the critique of Hegel’s philosophy of law”, “Capital. Critique of political economy”.
Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). German philosopher, politician, historian, entrepreneur. Associate and friend of K. Marx, one of the authors of Marxism. Born in Barmen (Germany) in the family of an industrialist. Lived in Germany, Belgium, England. He took part in the revolution of 1848 in Germany. After the death of K. Marx, he prepared “Capital” for publication. Major works: “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, “Anti-Dühring”, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”, “Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy”, “Dialectics of Nature”.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, materialism develops in the context of individual trends. Among the prominent leaders, we note the American thinker Barry Smith (“ontological philosophy”), the Russian philosopher M.V. Popov (“dialectical and historical materialism”), Paul Churchland, Daniel Dennett (“elimintavism”).
Materialism as a philosophical doctrine is in radical opposition with idealism and theology. During the European Middle Ages and Modern times, this conflict resulted in numerous disputes and confrontations between theologians, mystics and bearers of a scientific and materialistic worldview.