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Metaphysics: The Study of the Nature of Existence or Reality I. Materialism : all reality is material/physical; only bodies in motion are real

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Metaphysics: The Study of the Nature of Existence or Reality I

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Metaphysics the study of the nature of existence or reality i l.jpg

Metaphysics: The Study of the Nature of Existence or Reality I

Materialism: all reality is material/physical; only bodies in motion are real

  • Eastern (Charvaka) materialism: since we can know only that which we experience by sense, only that which is sensible/physical can be understood as real. There are no spiritual realities and no afterlife


Metaphysics the study of the nature of existence or reality ii l.jpg

Metaphysics: The Study of the Nature of Existence or Reality II

  • Western materialism: only physical things are real, either as atoms in motion (Democritus) or moving bodies (Hobbes)

    • In principle, everything is completely predictable (Laplace): there is no real freedom or afterlife


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Objections to Materialism

  • Mental activity (e.g., consciousness) does not have physical properties (e.g., location). Even if mental activity is correlated with physical activity, that does not prove they are identical

  • Consciousness can be “of” or “about” things that don’t exist; physical objects lack such intentionality

  • Sub-atomic particle physics shows how matter itself lacks physical properties


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Metaphysical Idealism: All reality is comprised of minds and ideas

Western Idealism:

  • Physical objects are real only insofar as they are intelligible as the kind of thing they are. What makes a thing be that kind of thing is its unchanging essence, “form,” or “idea” (Plato)

  • For something to be real means that it is experienced (or “perceived”) by some mind (including God): its existence consists in its being perceived (George Berkeley)


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Idealism (continued)

  • Eastern Idealism: things we perceive are only sensations in the mind (as in a dream), not real objects outside our minds. Meditation and an ethical life wake us from the dream (Vasubandhu)

    Objections to Idealism:

    • Anthropomorphism: just because we think of reality in terms of mind does not mean that it is a product of mind: the objects we perceive are not limited simply to objects as we perceive them

    • Minds and ideas occur only in material systems


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