Materialism claims that “things made up of matter, which are brought about by material instructions are the only ones which can be considered to exist (Gutberlet n.p.). It basically means that anything that is not considered “matter” is not real or does not exist (Gutberlet n.p.). It holds that “if there is matter then that object is genuine, if it moves or if it is involved in any activity then it is in existence” (Gutberlet n.p.).
Furthermore, materialism defies the claims of idealism and spiritualism which strongly state that all things existing in the world is “spiritual in nature” and that even matter which we see physically are just thoughts or ideas (Gutberlet n.p.).
Going back to materialism’s history or development, the atomists started with the proposal that air, earth, fire and water are the only four elements and are the only ones that really exists (Gutberlet n.p.). The aforementioned claim was supported by Democritus, who proclaimed that “out of nothing comes nothing”, meaning everything must have come from something (Gutberlet n.p.). Democritus means that all things that exist is brought about by the division or combination of parts technically referred to as atoms, which are divided into empty spaces, abundant and are diverse as well (Gutberlet n.p.). Moreover, an ancient Indian philosophy also somehow backs up this claim of materialism when it said that there is only one that can be considered real being and that is the Brahma and that all that is left should have an “appearance”, meaning visible to be taken as that which exists (Gutberlet n.p.). Furthermore, Empedocles also only believe in the four elements aforementioned along with love and hatred (Gutberlet n.p.). For him, these are the only things that really exist and that these things are what form the universe (Gutberlet n.p.).
Since that is the case, then the biggest problem here is that “materialism, through its claims, then implies that since we cannot see its existence or there is no physicality in it, and it is not involved in the activity of matter then the existence of God, as well as, the soul is highly questionable for the advocates and believers of materialism (Gutberlet n.p.).
The basic claim of materialism actually refutes its claim:
First of all, if it is true that “nothing would bring about nothing”, does it necessarily mean then that “everything is caused by everything” as well (Gutberlet n.p.).
Secondly, if there is no cause, nothing then would come to exist? Contrary to that belief are the claims of those who believe in God, says that God himself causes things to occur (Gutberlet n.p.). For them, there is no way that things happen or exist without what is technically referred to as an almighty cause (Gutberlet n.p.).
Last but not least, if physicality is the basis of materialism then the mind also does not exist since it cannot be seen, even though it is clearly evident that it is the thing that works even as we write an argument right now (Gutberlet n.p.).
Plato’s Chariot Analogy
Phaedrus, a work of Plato, is where he explicates his perceptions and beliefs with regards to the human soul (Eubersax n.p.).
Plato, here, used an allegory to make his point and his voice be heard (Eubersax n.p.). Basically, he signified that a Charioteer is directing a chariot which is pulled by two horses, wherein one of the horses is black and the other one is white (Eubersax n.p.). The black one is actually extremely upsetting because it is too troublesome and should be whipped firmly for it to behave (Eubersax n.p.). The white one, on the other hand, is very well bred and would move even without the Charioteer whipping it (Eubersax n.p.).
Furthermore, in this parable of Plato, he used the Charioteer to symbolize intellect, objectivity, and reason (Eubersax n.p.). The Charioteer is expected to keep the horses from going on different directions and reach enlightenment instead (Eubersax n.p.). For him, the Charioteer functions as a guide of the soul to be directed to the truth. The white horse, meanwhile denotes a person’s “rationality and moral impulse” (Eubersax n.p.). The black horse, on the other hand, corresponds to the irrationally of the soul (Eubersax n.p.).
Furthermore, Plato signified that there is a path which the souls create as they pursue the Gods in the course of enlightenment (Eubersax n.p.). He said that there are a number of souls which are totally and entirely enlightened are the ones which perceive the universe in its glorifying state (Eubersax n.p.). However, he claims, that there are also some that experience hardships in directing and managing the black horse, in spite of the fact that the white horse is there to guide it (Eubersax n.p.). This is why sometimes, because the black horse prevails, the soul misplaces its wings and instead of going straightly through the path of enlightenment, it instead goes back to the earth (Eubersax n.p.).
Moreover, upon losing its wings and being pulled back to the earth, the individual is also will come to life but in another persona (Eubersax n.p.). He or she may now turn into a philosopher who is loving and well-bred; he or she may also become a leader or king who is law-conscious and abides by the law’s every detail; he or she may turn out to be a politician or a businessman; he or she may become a doctor; he or she may become a prophet or someone who advocates certain religious beliefs; he or she may turn into a poet or an artist; he or she may become a farmer this time; he or she may become a sophist; and last but not least of the nine possibilities is that he or she may turn into a tyrant (Eubersax n.p.).
On a final note, Plato’s parable is actually a reminder of what individuals should do. This means that individuals should try his or her best to be always objective and “keep things in perspective” to be able to decide on the right thing to do, as well as, not to experience losing wings and eventually falling since it is quite difficult to get back in track (Eubersax n.p.). But in case that still happens, do everything you can to recognize and acknowledge this as fast as possible and retain perspectives on things (Eubersax n.p.).
Eubersax, John. Plato’s Chariot Analogy. 21 February 2007. n.a. 04 June 2007
Gutberlet, Constantin. Materialism. 2007. New Advent. 04 June 2007