Submitted on 2015/07/25 at 11:51 am
Yet the irony of this situation is that the philosophical foundations of materialism, in a proper metaphysics, are in worse shape now than they have ever been. The “new atheists,” and other commentators, like Stephen Hawking, whose scientific ideas begin to lead them into philosophical reflection, are philosophically very naive and seem to have only the shallowest familiarity or understanding of the history of philosophy, let alone of metaphysics proper. Metaphysical materialism should not have survived the progression of ideas through Berkeley, Hume, and Kant; but perhaps because this outcome was muddled in the treatment of German Idealists (like Hegel), a simple version of Democritean Atomism returned in the 19th century among those more impressed with the progress of science than with the jargon and obscurantism of Idealism. That is when materialism gained some traction as the default metaphysics of generally sensible, critical, conscientious, and empirical opinion. Even the denial of Marx that his “materialism” was an ontological theory (rather than about material economic conditions of production) was ignored and forgotten in the general impression that, after all, it must be just that.