Theories of Materialism and Idealism
SOCS 2570: Perspectives on Human Nature & Political Thought
Prof: Edward G. Winslow
TA: Marc Weinstein (Thurs 10:30-12:30)
Due: Wednesday, March 19, 2014.
Whitehead vs. Marx: Theories of Materialism and Idealism
Materialism and idealism are two theories that greatly differ but are essentially straightforward to grasp in terms of contrasting and comparing the two. Karl Marx, a nineteenth century German philosopher and socialist saw materialism as a theory in regards to all reality being based on matter. Materialism is based on more of a scientific and factual approach. For example, the idea of a table was developed by humans because of their experience with other tables, not from consciousness. Idealism, is a theory that refers to the mind or the spirit of God being the origin of all material things on Earth. Using the table example, a materialist would argue that social being determines consciousness, whereas an idealist would argue that consciousness determines being. Materialism regards all phenomena even that of the mind, is due to a material agency. Idealism regards ideas as the only reality. The majority of people do not live a life free of materialism. To do so people must be happy with a life free of indulging their bodies and minds with things that pleasure the senses. Very few people are without materialism, which would mean that money and other physical possessions mean very little to them and it is essential that they have to choice to be able to freely choose this without being pushed on by certain societal forces. The most popular form of idealism is the idea that individuals can do anything that set their minds to. For example, one can overcome poverty if they put their mind to it and try really hard. Poverty is not a social phenomenon caused by societal limitations or illness in the family, rather a personal choice. In this paper I will be discussing Karl Marx 's history materialism theory, Alfred North
References: Schilpp, Paul Arthur, editor: _The Philosophy of Alfred North White,_ "The Library of Living Philosophers," (LaSalle: Open Court Publishing Company, 1951) _Process and Reality_ (New York: The Macmillan Company 1929. New York: The Free Press, 1978.) Marx, Karl: _Das Kapital_. (Capital Volume III, 1894) Whitehead, Alfred North: _Nature Alive_ (Lecture 1 & 2) Whitehead, Alfred North, _Modes of Thought,_ (Lectures VII and VIII) Whitehead, Alfred North, _Adventurs of Ideas._ (Chap. II) A.H. Johnson, _Whitehead 's Theory of Reality,_ Boston: The Beacon Press, 1952, p.116