A common misunderstanding concerning early modern and Enlightenment materialism is that it is in essence, or by definition, “mechanistic materialism.” The latter term has often functioned as an ideological construct and as such has not always been well defined, but one can venture a general definition as follows. Mechanistic materialism holds that the world is material, and what it is to be material, in this case, is to be exhaustively explainable in terms of shape, size, and motion, with a further possible reduction towards a mathematization of such a mechanistically construed matter (Dear 1995). Indeed, some prominent materialists such as Hobbes do seem to hold such a view: what is real is only matter and motion, and the only kind of substance that exists is body.1 Similarly, in the eighteenth century, some thinkers such as the Baron d’Holbach, and Diderot in a more physicalist mood, insist that “causes really are only of one kind ... : physical causes” given that “the universe, this vast sum of all that exists, offers us everywhere just matter and motion”; “motion is a mode of being which necessarily follows from the essence of matter” (Diderot 1975-2004, 9:258).2 This more or less physicalistic configuration of matter has further implications that lie outside the boundaries of this essay, such as the reduction of all causation to efficient causation, the rejection of teleology, and the promotion of physics as both science and source of an ontology (physicalism) 3.

Varieties of vital materialism

Charles Wolfe
2017

Abstract

A common misunderstanding concerning early modern and Enlightenment materialism is that it is in essence, or by definition, “mechanistic materialism.” The latter term has often functioned as an ideological construct and as such has not always been well defined, but one can venture a general definition as follows. Mechanistic materialism holds that the world is material, and what it is to be material, in this case, is to be exhaustively explainable in terms of shape, size, and motion, with a further possible reduction towards a mathematization of such a mechanistically construed matter (Dear 1995). Indeed, some prominent materialists such as Hobbes do seem to hold such a view: what is real is only matter and motion, and the only kind of substance that exists is body.1 Similarly, in the eighteenth century, some thinkers such as the Baron d’Holbach, and Diderot in a more physicalist mood, insist that “causes really are only of one kind ... : physical causes” given that “the universe, this vast sum of all that exists, offers us everywhere just matter and motion”; “motion is a mode of being which necessarily follows from the essence of matter” (Diderot 1975-2004, 9:258).2 This more or less physicalistic configuration of matter has further implications that lie outside the boundaries of this essay, such as the reduction of all causation to efficient causation, the rejection of teleology, and the promotion of physics as both science and source of an ontology (physicalism) 3.
The New Politics of Materialism. History, Philosophy, Science
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3719090
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