Materialism and its relationship to individual values

Introduction_To_Philosophy_Dallas_M_Roark_ch_9

materialism and its relationship to individual values

I have confronted the Marxist theory of art's commodification and related calls individual value and real value or social value with the terms production and. values. In relation to values we specifically explored the relationship between .. materialistic American individuals value environmental protection less. For these words good and evil are ever used with relation to the person that useth (4) Materialism, if consistently held, forces the rejection of values whether .

For example, in ancient times a form of naturalism Voltairethe pen name of Francois-Marie Arouet, was born in Paris, educated by the Jesuits, eventually turned against the church, became an opponent of religious fanaticism. Probably his most famous work is Candide, published in Even modern naturalists look with disdain at the ancient materialism because it was rather crude.

But some modern philosophers call their naturalism "modern materialism" but do not mean the same as the ancient views. Consequently, as we look at different types of philosophies beginning now with naturalism as one of six types, the reader must be aware that there is no single accepted definition of naturalism.

Some naturalists admit freedom, others deny it; some admit the existence of gods in a qualified sense, others deny them. Thus there is always a problem of insisting upon one person or one type of philosophy as the adequate representation of the tradition in philosophy. As a result, we are committed to giving at least two and then sometimes three or four examples of a philosophic tradition. In naturalism we will look at four examples of forms of naturalism: We now turn to our first model.

Materialism The ancients held many views in common and we will draw upon Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius to give us a credo of naturalism which is basically materialistic in content. Materialism is the simple view that all objects are composed of atoms.

The following may be considered a summary of these emphases in materialism. Basic reality is atomic in nature.

Atoms were always in existence. Atoms have existed from eternity. The atoms have no qualities in themselves but they make up the material world. When the atoms collide with one another they form matter. Different arrangements of matter are the result of differing combinations of atoms.

When these combinations break up the atoms disperse and join with other atoms to form new combinations. What causes these combinations to begin with? Democritus believed that atoms fell through infinite space and collided resulting in a build-up of various realities. The atoms are not directed by any power or intelligence. Moreover, the early materialists conceived of the world as somewhat deterministic, i.

Materialism Research: Suggestions For New Directions by Kathleen S. Micken

They could not be any other way. Later materialists elaborated on this view that the world must be understood on the analogy of a machine involving cause and effect relations.

Machines operate on a cause-effect situation. When I turn my key in the car a whole series of effects take place and continue until I turn it off.

The world may be viewed in the same cause-effect sequences only there is no being who turns on the key. Another analogy may explain the cause-effect situation. Imagine the world and its events in domino fashion in which one domino or event causes the other domino event to move. In a sense the materialist world is one big domino exhibition in which one fall leads to the next fall and that on to infinity. What is man in a materialistic philosophy?

Man is composed of the same type of atoms as the rest of the world with one exception. The early materialists spoke of a soul in man consisting of finer, smoother, more supple atoms. The soul is yet of atoms but a distinction in quality was accepted.

materialism and its relationship to individual values

Epicurus affirmed a soul, but in truly atomistic form he believed that when the body is dissolved, the soul is also dissolved. Although a soul concept sounds different or inconsistent with materialism, it was not for them inconsistent because it too was atomic. Later materialists rejected the concept of a soul altogether.

Still later, materialists viewed man from the standpoint of stimulus-response psychology in which man is reduced to a mechanistic basis. Some materialists believed in gods, but god in an atomic world view is only another conglomerate of atoms. The gods are not basically different from humans: The gods are similar to man in form. They are divided sexually, they eat and breathe as men do.

The gods may be honored for their excellence but fearing them is unnecessary and worship and sacrifice is not required. Ethics is not necessarily related to the idea of god. Many materialists spoke critically of God and religion. Lucretius regarded religion as a product of terror and superstition. He believed that "true piety lies rather in the power to contemplate the universe with a quiet mind. It is important to remember that the logical conclusion of the atomistic world view does not allow for values.

If cause and effect govern the movement of all things, freedom is an illusion. But one must observe that neither Lucretius nor Democritus carried their views to their logical conclusions.

Lucretius taught that "one is led after pleasure by 'the will of the individual'" who "originates the movements that trickle through his limbs.

And this he would do, did he not find his pleasures in mortal affairs. Thomas Hobbes gives us some comments that indicate the extent that values were regarded only as useful fictions. For these words good and evil are ever used with relation to the person that useth them, there being nothing simply and absolutely so, nor any rule of good and evil to be taken from the nature of objects themselves; but from the man, where there is no commonwealth.

The criticisms will be considered shortly, but a word is necessary to see where materialism went in the history of philosophy. The earliest materialistic views were incorporated into the development of the physical sciences after the fifteenth century. Matter in motion in the atomic view of things seemed to make a lot of sense to the forerunners of modern science. Mechanism--viewing the world as a giant machine--seemed to explain much of the universe and machines began to contribute to man's life.

It was easy to conclude that since mechanism combined with materialism can account and explain so much of the universe, why not push it to its logical conclusion? Why not make it the complete principle of interpreting the whole of the universe including man?

The body-soul relation and the problem of accounting for an interaction between the body-soul is dismissed. There is no soul to account for. This form of naturalism enabled man to jettison moral responsibility, religion, God and values. It is no wonder that emerging forms of atheism were drawn to and found support in materialism with its new acceptability in science.

The strength of materialism is that it centers on one of the most evident elements in the world--matter. A study of matter is important. Probably the real source of contention comes when the materialistic views are applied to man, God, and values.

Several criticisms may be raised on all levels. With the advent of modern nuclear physics we have not only split the atom, but atomic physicists now talk about omega-minus particles and "quarks. Instead of a precise machine like world, as understood by earlier scientists, modern terminology involves the "potentiality, possibility, and the all-important relative viewpoint of the observer.

Mechanism involves precise predictability. One may talk about the behavior of a million electrons and declare thatwill react in a given way. One does not declare that ,l93 will react that way. Predictions of electrons is not concerned with a few variations but is based upon the behavior of millions.

As a result the analogy of the world as a machine is only useful to a general degree, and cannot be generalized to give an explanation to everything in existence. Man is not merely a bundle of nerves, sensations, and neural stimulations. These are important, but are not adequate to explain reflection, purposeful, and forward-looking planning.

Moreover, it will be recalled that it was argued earlier chapter 8 that the power of generalization appears to require more than the brain. The jump from matter to thinking matter is enormous. The neural system is necessary, but it is not the sufficient explanation of thinking. Moreover, the materialists confuse the priority of matter's appearance before mind with the priority of the value of mind.

Matter, as man has come to know it, existed long before man appeared on the scene. But to assume that matter is eternal is nothing more than an affirmation of faith. Competing with this view of materialism is the belief that mind is prior to matter. If we are looking for a key to understanding man it will not be in matter, but in mind. Certainly mechanisms have value in many realms, but to conclude that everything--including all of man's acts--must be so explained is a generalization that has little warrant.

The materialists spoke of the world as a machine. There are no machines without a designer, inventor, or creator. The analogy actually gives meaning to a world involving the great Designer--God.

Modern Scientific Naturalism Modern scientific naturalism was a philosophical movement arising out of the l9th century which viewed man within nature as opposed to his being against nature.

Previous materialism was regarded as erroneous l in its reductionism of all reality to indestructible matter in motion as in the atom, 2 its quantitative view of "substance" rather than a qualitative view of reality,5 3 its emphasis on the physical rather than the biological sciences, and 4 because it failed to explain "human knowing as a natural achievement.

The new naturalism accepted the "naturalistic principle" which meant that one must inquire into a set of facts by means of the verification principle in science and this was meant to bring objectivity to it. Moreover, the scientific method was to be applied to all areas of knowledge.

One must not "advance any theory that is contrary to any established scientific fact. We can now turn to the four ingredients of this philosophy. Nature is the basic category of scientific naturalism. Naturalism now speaks of "events, qualities, and relations or process and character, or essence and flux. Nature or reality is thus in a process of becoming. There are no permanent entities that exist forever.

Reality is not of one kind and its actions are not simple, but complex. Nevertheless, evolution was seen as the key to a non-supernatural understanding of how reality is involved and developed from the inorganic to the organic with its great achievement in humanity.

Evolution involves chance rather than a mechanical view of the older materialism. The use of evolution for philosophy is most relevant in the doctrine of man to which we now turn. In the evolutionary picture of man, man is regarded as a continuity from sub-human species. Then what is special about man? Man is an animal that thinks. Man has a "mind. Philosophers who have not been naturalists regarded mind as an immaterial or spiritual principle in man.

But the spiritual or immaterial cannot be subjected to scientific techniques. Thus the naturalist has to develop some explanation for man's thought life. How do you explain what appears to be spiritual by a non-spiritual device? Various suggestions are offered.

Behavior can be examined experimentally, but mind cannot. Mind is then defined as "response to the meanings of stimuli. In any case, thinking is regarded as the highest function of nature. Mind, if it exists in any meaningful way, is a product of the brain or some merely natural explanation. Naturalists come with diverse responses to God and religion. On the one hand concession is made that the existence of God is too freely dismissed from the scene.

This dismissal is unfair to both theism and naturalism. For if there is a cosmic ally to man, he should be welcomed as we welcome the friendship of other men.

Naturalism rejects God, the supernatural, and life after death because these beliefs cannot be proven by the scientific method. Moreover, naturalism regards the gods as a product of fear. Naturalism's attitude toward religion is more benign. Religion needs reforming and criticism, it needs to be made more humanistic, but it serves a worthy place in man's existence.

Religion is the place for the "celebration, consecration, and clarification of human goals. These are only aspects of man's vision and imagination. Religion serves man's human functions: Scientific naturalism rejects the caricature of the materialistic ethic of the past.

Moreover, hedonism, or the ethic based on pleasure, often called Epicurianism, is rejected. Modern naturalists are modified epicureans in that they affirm values of the mind and body because man is a whole.

Man's life is in nature. Thus his values will be found there, and not beyond nature. Certain ideas may be listed to indicate the direction of the naturalistic theory of values, or its axiology. The act of choosing is regarded as the essence of the ethical act. The reasons given for a choice are not as important as the fact of the choice. Its late appearance does not reduce its priority in importance.

One must make a headcount to decide how many Americans are divorced each year. One can only assert that "divorce is wrong" after one has sampled opinions and attitudes, studied stress on families, the society and other factors. The older materialism was harsher and for a while naturalists linked the biological motif of the "survival of the fittest" with a competitive ethic. Men must struggle with one another in surviving.

However, the naturalists on the modern scene tend toward some form of socialism. Seeley rejects competition in the economic sphere because it creates antagonism and strife between people.

If we have overgeneralized about the creeping socialism of some modern naturalists, other naturalists advocate an "ethical democracy. The first criticism relates to all types of naturalism. How far can we generalize on the validity of the scientific method?

materialism and its relationship to individual values

Perry wrote of a maxim that "he that will believe only what he can fully comprehend, must have a very long head or a very short creed. Is it possible that in spite of our tremendous foundation of knowledge gained from the scientific method that there are yet realms of knowledge to be gained where the scientific method is of no use as we now know it? Is it possible to conceive of an entirely different method of ferreting truth now unknown in different dimensions?

The scientific method is limited to the tangible. Another dimension of existence might require another method of research. Does not the naturalist attitude toward the adherence to the scientific method involve a reductionism of the first order? Reductionism in this context means that the scientific method is the only way without exception to legitimate knowledge.

Perry speaks of this circulism in the naturalistic emphasis on the scientific method: We have seen that naturalism regards man as an animal that thinks. Is this a sufficient ground for building a meaningful ethic? Moishe Postone, Michael Heinrich and Peter Hudis make this argument better than I do but my contribution to Marxist theory on this score, I would say, is that I not only apply the theory of capitalist production to artistic production but demonstrate that, despite the buying and selling of artworks, artistic production was never fully converted to capitalist commodity production and therefore artworks are not, strictly speaking, commodities at all in the capitalist sense.

Can you explain where and why does Christian Fuchs committ erroneous analyses according to you? Rigi distinguishes between what Marx calls individual value and real value or social value with the terms production and reproduction.

When Rigi talks about the digital reproduction of information products he refers only to the replication of the product rather than reproducing the product through an equivalent set of labour processes.

He implies that the ontology of information rather than their specific social relations somehow determines their economic character. By conflating reproduction with replication and therefore production with the distributive act of downloading digital material, Rigi fails to distinguish between newly minted information and screen shots of once up-to-date information that has a diminishing relevance and value.

materialism and its relationship to individual values

Fuchs argues that the consumption of digital material is a form of work that produces value. Fuchs should be credited for redirecting the debate on social media from the terms set by Bell in the theory of post-industrial society which gives emphasis to information as a product that Bell alleges cannot be accounted for within the Marxist labour theory of value.

Fuchs is right to persist with an analysis of the mode of production rather than being distracted by changes to the morphology of the product. I think a Marxist economic analysis of digital culture vindicates Lebowitz rather than Smythe and Fuchs. From a political point of view, Fuchs aligns the consumer of digital information to the campaign for the recognition of non-wage labour such as domestic work as indispensable to capitalism.

In effect, Fuchs loosens the connection between exploitation generally and economic exploitation specifically in Marxism ie that portion of value produced by wage labour that is expropriated by the capitalist in order to insist that the activity of the consumer is economically exploited by advertisers, Web 2. Fuchs transfigures consumption into production not by demonstrating that updating your profile on Facebook produces value but merely that profits are made in platform capitalism and therefore the consumer, who neither makes a profit nor receives a wage, must be exploited.

One of the problems with such a thesis, of course, is that the exploitation of the producers of commodities advertised online eg Chinese factory workers and the exploitation of the digital workers employed by the Web 2. If consumers are exploited, then it follows that the richer they are and the more leisure time they have the more they are exploited. Capitalism does not exploit consumers, it realises its returns on the investment of capital through their purchases.

Enlightenment in the age of materialism: Carol Craig at TEDxGlasgow

What will be your perspectives, your approach of this wide question? What are the main hypotheses you tend to demonstrate in this book? My new book traces the historical emergence of the category of art and its distinctive mode of production. Art in general, as distinct from the several distinct arts of painting, sculpture and music, emerges historically at exactly the same time as the category of labour in general. Labour seems like a simple category.

The conception of labour in this general form — as labour as such — is also immeasurably old. My book is an historical reconstruction of the passage from the arts to art in general within the more general transition from feudalism to capitalism. The artist does not belong to the more typical transition from the artisan to the worker but the transition from artisan to artist takes place at the same time and under the same changing conditions. In the first part of the book I trace the transition from the artisan to the artist, from the workshop to the studio, from antiquarianism to art history and the passage from the guild to the academy to the studio and exhibition condition.

In the second part of the book I examine the various ways in which art and labour have been conceived within political thought from Utopian Socialism to Anti-Work.

Rather than asserting that the definitive shift from the artisan to the artist took place during the Renaissance, despite the survival of the apprenticeship system long after it, I trace several specific historical transitions. I scrutinise the argument that the modern concept of art is formed in the seventeenth century with the Academies of Painting and Sculpture and the corresponding category of the several distinct Fine Arts and I construct an alternative trajectory in which the Fine Arts were elevated towards the liberal arts and above the mechanical arts but remaining within the hierarchical regime of the arts that corresponded to the guild system.

The academy system drove a lasting wedge between art and the artisanal traditions of handicraft, workshop training and direct commerce with the consumers of works of art but did so on the basis of an aristocratic model of patronage that by the end of the eighteenth century was dissolved. Art, I argue, extends the social detachment of the Fine Arts on the basis of the industrialisation and semi-industrialisation of the various tasks such as manufacturing paint and brushes that had previously been produced within the workshop.

The critical relationship between art and capitalism is formed, therefore, by a process in which all those elements of artistic production that can be commodified, mechanised, industrialised and manufactured by wage-labour appear to be external to art as such because they are supplied by companies who sell artists their raw materials. How the issues you raise in your intellectual productions affect your individual and collective artistic practice?