Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volumen 9, número 26, Agosto 1977
Por qué no soy materialista
C. Ulises Moulines
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Resumen: The main thesis of this article is that materialism, in spite of much talk about it, is not a clear and safe philosophical doctrine to maintain, unless it is understood in such a broad sense that anything can be compatible with it. Materialism is defined as the doctrine asserting that only matter, and nothing else, exists.
It is argued, however, that given the present state of particle physics, nobody can honestly assert that he knows what matter is —not even high energy physicists—. So one is led to the result that materialism asserts that only one empirical property of things is real (namely, to be material); but since this property is unknown, this is the same as asserting nothing.
Furthermore, common sense versions of materialism are criticized for being inconsistent. They lead either to subjective idealism or to dualism.
A more “scientifically-minded” brand of materialism, namely atomistic materialism, is also very problematic. It is simply untrue that only atoms exist, since even in classical physics one has to admit the existence of other sorts of entities, like the vacuum, fields, actions at distance, and thermodynamic entities, which are clearly non-material, unless one identifies every possible entity of empirical science as matter by definition, which would make materialism a totally void doctrine. The situation appears to be even worse for atomistic materialism in quantum physics and high-energy physics. Furthermore, in any conceivable framework for physical theory, one has to admit the existence of points and instants (or, alternatively, of world-points); it would be a tour de force to define them as “material entities”.
The only coherent possibility for materialism seems to be to identify matter with geometry, as in the general theory of relativity. But the ontological and epistemological consequences of this identification do not seem to be in accordance with the intuitions of the normal materialists.
Finally, a general statement is made against every kind of monistic doctrine (not only materialism). Given our present-day knowledge of nature, it is highly implausible that a single empirical (meaningful) predicate applies to everything in the world. A pluralistic view of the universe seems to be safer.
[C. Ulises Moulines]
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