Unlike the popular definition of materialism—caring only about material things—the philosophy of materialism is a claim about the nature of reality. Materialism is also a central element of secular humanism , a movement that rejects traditional religion in favor of living an ethical life based on reason and compassion rather than obedience to any God or holy book. Secular humanists believe in science and the betterment of human life, and try to draw on the best that human thought has produced, often reading in ancient philosophy and Eastern religions, which are easier to reconcile with materialism than western religions. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a popular television personality with ideas similar to those of Sagan and Feynman from section 3. Here, he expresses one of the basic ideas of materialism: because we are entirely made of matter and energy, just like the rest of the universe, we are intimately connected with that universe.
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The turn to matter as a necessary critical engagement comes from a collective discontent with the linguistic turn and social constructionism to adequately address material realities for humans and nonhumans alike. However, as Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman point out in their anthology, Material Feminisms , material theorists do not simply abandon the work of the linguistic turn, but rather build on its foundation, underscoring the co-constitution of material and discursive productions of reality. They do, however, also consider how material bodies, spaces, and conditions contribute to the formation of subjectivity. Feminist theorists began to emphasise the material of the body, considering differences among bodies, and to think through the intersections of material and social constructions. Therefore, a discursive analysis of gender required a non-essentialising approach to the matter of the body, itself.
Philosophical materialism physicalism is the metaphysical view that there is only one substance in the universe and that substance is physical or material. Materialists believe that spiritual substance does not exist. Paranormal , supernatural, or occult phenomena are either delusions or reducible to natural forces. Materialists are not necessarily atheists, nor do they deny the reality of morality or such things as love or justice, beauty or goodness.