Relative Materialism in Life 6 replies

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random_soldier1337

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#1 3 years ago

What is your definition of materialism? And according to your definition is it unambiguously bad?

I'll go with the Wikipedia definition, which is also the main reason for my confusion.

According to it, physical matter and energy is all that matters and any and all phenomena, mental or otherwise, are a result of the that matter and those energies.

Now according to that, even things such as love, friendship and all of those gushy, feel good things that are usually viewed on the 'good' side of the morality scale and which USUALLY make people feel good could be considered materialistic, if I haven't managed to screw up somewhere.

For a moment, let me go to a tangential point. Consider how a lot of religions and philosophies say that to be at peace one should be detached to the material existence of the world. So basically, in the way that I see that statement is that one should not have any aspirations or ambitions even if they can be considered 'good'.

But then what is one supposed to live for?

And if it can be said that one should have ambitions but not concern themselves too much with it, then isn't it a moot point to have one?

Maybe I'm not connecting the dots properly. But isn't some materialism or materialistic attachment to things/people required? If not then how or why should we be bothered by anything in life including living life? Would those we care for most also have some material attachment by this argument?

Or does my entire post not stand because I missed a bunch of crucial things? I get the feeling I may have missed something or rather a whole lot of somethings.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#2 3 years ago

I guess most people define materialism as striving for tangible rewards; money and most things that you can buy with a lot of it. It seems somewhat associated to hedonism, regarding life as a big competition and money as a means to showcase your success in that competition to others. If that floats your boat so be it. But I wouldn't say that it is necessarily linked to amibition. You can have the ambition to be really good at a skill that isn't valued by society at all, such as learning a dead language.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#3 3 years ago

random_soldier1337;5759861What is your definition of materialism? And according to your definition is it unambiguously bad?

I'll go with the Wikipedia definition, which is also the main reason for my confusion.

According to it, physical matter and energy is all that matters and any and all phenomena, mental or otherwise, are a result of the that matter and those energies.

Now according to that, even things such as love, friendship and all of those gushy, feel good things that are usually viewed on the 'good' side of the morality scale and which USUALLY make people feel good could be considered materialistic, if I haven't managed to screw up somewhere.[/quote]

There's philosophical materialism, which is the former case: 'Nothing intangible exists.'

There's economic materialism, which is the position that what matters in life is the acquisition of physical wealth; money, houses, etc.

I suppose that strictly speaking one could consider love a material good, but that's not what's generally meant. The former does not necessarily imply the latter.

[QUOTE=random_soldier1337;5759861]For a moment, let me go to a tangential point. Consider how a lot of religions and philosophies say that to be at peace one should be detached to the material existence of the world. So basically, in the way that I see that statement is that one should not have any aspirations or ambitions even if they can be considered 'good'.

But then what is one supposed to live for?

Nothing. The point of such philosophies has not, in my reading, been to change your position in life – and rarely to give you something to strive for. The point of such philosophies is to make you at peace with your role in life. Someone who is asked the question, "well, what should I live for then?" May well answer something along the lines of, "well, what should you die for then?"

Often, the underlying point of the philosophy is that it really doesn't matter where you end up in this world. That it doesn't matter if your reaction to the philosophy is just to lie down and die. That the world is somewhat analogous to a play, or computer game. What reason is there to play Skyrim? But you do, you play your part, you pretend things matter.

We have, what you might call, a consensual social illusion of the importance of things. When you lose that illusion, or so the philosophies would generally argue, you gain both a certain measure of freedom, and you gain a certain measure of peace. What should you live for? Well, whatever you please.

One should see the danger in such a philosophy, mind. Generally, in philosophies that have taken such a position, there has been an aesthetic of how one returns to society after the revelation – or, in how one decides not to return to the society. That it's a bit mean to spoil the game, or the play, for those who are still playing it. (One could, perhaps, see nihilism as an expression of such philosophies when denied that mechanism.)

But, ultimately, the point is something to the effect of: "What comes comes, I am what I am."




Andron Taps Forum Mod

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#4 3 years ago

Nemmerle;5759871

Nothing. The point of such philosophies has not, in my reading, been to change your position in life – and rarely to give you something to strive for. The point of such philosophies is to make you at peace with your role in life. Someone who is asked the question, "well, what should I live for then?" May well answer something along the lines of, "well, what should you die for then?"

Often, the underlying point of the philosophy is that it really doesn't matter where you end up in this world. That it doesn't matter if your reaction to the philosophy is just to lie down and die. That the world is somewhat analogous to a play, or computer game. What reason is there to play Skyrim? But you do, you play your part, you pretend things matter.

Very good point. A lot of people IME seem to confuse the study of philosophy with gaining the tools necessary to harbor a cause for yourself, but it's almost never like that. A cause is often the result of cultural or environmental conditioning and not so much the academic study of it.

I remember years ago, my mother told me a story of this one philosophy major who wrote in a magazine article, "The best major is philosophy because you can work at McDonald's and still find entertainment and peace in it." Well...something to that effect =p


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



Lindale Forum Mod

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#5 3 years ago

[COLOR=Blue]I would define materialism as my Dad, who cares more about things than he does people. He will explode if you come in from the rain, and leave even a small amount of mud on his floor. His THINGS are all he cares about. If you want the dictionary definition of "Materialism," that is it. [/COLOR]


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random_soldier1337

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#6 3 years ago

Gee, now I see what missed earlier. Probably should have realized from my earlier post that this was gonna devolve into a mundane "what's the meaning/purpose of my life?" post. I just didn't think the majority (of the less than half a dozen) would go with the conventional definition of materialism.

Lindale;5759891[COLOR=Blue]I would define materialism as my Dad, who cares more about things than he does people. He will explode if you come in from the rain, and leave even a small amount of mud on his floor. His THINGS are all he cares about. If you want the dictionary definition of "Materialism," that is it. [/COLOR]

I don't know. MUD is a bit nasty and not exactly easy to scoop up and dump it off in the garbage. Even a small amount. ESPECIALLY, a small amount like those semi-congealed boogers that get stuck on your nose or something after you blow it into a hanky and get stuck to whichever surface you DON'T want them to stick to so you have a hard time getting rid of it.

Sorry, don't see what's so bad about that example. Though, you probably don't want to share the more extreme ones.




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#7 3 years ago

If you're going to delve into physics to explain materialism - by suggesting, for example, that it should include loving your family and friends, because they are constructed primarily out of matter - then you're changing the definition of materialism.

Materialism is collecting things just for the sake of having things. It's an impulse that served us well before the age of abundance the western world has found itself in these days, but since the industrial revolution it's gone a bit haywire. Obesity and excessive materialism go hand in hand, in my book. There are studies out there that suggest having too much stuff in your house - clutter, an attic full of crap you never use, a garage you can no longer fit your car in - can cause mental health issues like stress, so it's kinda like the psychological version of obesity.

As with eating, everything is good in moderation. Some things are good, and it's OK to aspire to have them. To be happy, though, I think that you should also aspire to have good experiences. Intangible things. Holidays, excursions, good times with people you like, those random 'experience days' or whatever they're called. People need to find a happy medium between the two, if you ask me - people spend too much money on acquiring stuff, and not enough on just having a good time.