Materialism Has Had A Long History

1378 Words Nov 2nd, 2016 6 Pages
Materialism has had a long history. In ancient Greece, Democritus (460-390BC) claimed that all things were composed of atoms, while French physicians Le Roy (1726–1779) and La Mettrie (1701-1751) believed that mental properties were mechanical motions made up of material components (Marx & Engels, 1844/1956). For materialists, the answer to how mental phenomena arise from “flux of ions in little bits of jelly- the neurons- in the brain” (Ramachandran, 2003, p. 112) is simple: ‘all is physical’. In this regard, every substance is material substance, and once science acquires a complete account of human psychology its categories will correspond to the categories of physical theory (Jaworski, 2011).

In the twentieth century, two schools of physicalism emerged as psychologists attempted to integrate the study of the mind with the study of the brain. These were behaviourism and identity theory. According to the behaviourist school, mental states could be reduced to behavioural dispositions (Ryle, 1947; Wittgenstein, 1953). In other words, behaviour was sufficient to knowing a person’s mental state.

For example, if John felt pain from tripping over John would be disposed to exhibit pain behaviour, such as wincing and screaming, as a way of showing his felt pain. Mary’s belief that a snake was near her foot might make her gasp in fear, tremble, become motionless, and the like. In both cases, mental properties are understood “in terms of observable physical phenomena”…
Open Document