Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Materialism

"Our culture needs a great deal more than a changed lifestyle. In the Western mind, thought-structures and the relationship between consciousness and matter are badly out of balance, so that our world has become wholly pervaded by a materialism that is threatening to squash us to death. We are in a state of materialistic hypertrophy, and our eventual self-destruction would in fact be no more than the logical consequence of our attitudes." - Holger Kalweit

"Man gains freedom only through the use of his highest faculties. Materialism makes him more and more a slave to the forces of the phenomenal world... Our present-day materialism points in this direction - that is, in the direction of the enslavement of man by mechanisation and by its direct results, by state organisations, uniformity, the sacrifice of independent intelligence, the sweeping away of individual differences, local customs, local diversity, and all the infinite branchings of humanity that enrich life... Man is made free by ‘truth’. The truth spoken here is equated with mind. This kind of truth begins with self-knowledge." - Maurice Nicoll

"All men need something to poetize and idealize their life a little - something which they value for more than its use and which is a symbol of their emancipation from the mere materialism and drudgery of daily life." - Theodore Parker

"Your mission is proving that a love for the earth, and for the things of the earth, is possible without materialism, a love without greed" -

"I believe the root of all happiness on this earth to life in the realization of a spiritual life with a consciousness of something wider than materialism; in the capacity to live in a world that makes you unselfish because you are not over anxious about your personal place; that makes you tolerant because you realize your own comic fallibility; that gives you tranquillity without complacency because you believe in something so much larger than yourself." - Hugh Walpole, fully Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole

"Then still a purpose enclosing all, and over and beneath all, ever since what might be call’d thought, or the budding of thought, fairly began in my youthful mind, I had had a desire to attempt some worthy record of that entire faith and acceptance to justify the ways of God to man... which is the foundation of moral America... to formulate a poem whose every thought or fact should directly or indirectly be or connive at an implicit belief in the wisdom, health, mystery, beauty of every process, every concrete object, every human or other existence, not only consider’d from the point of view of all, but of each. While I can not understand it or argue it out, I fully believe in a clue and purpose in Nature, entire and several; and that invisible spiritual results, just as real and definite as the visible, eventuate all concrete life and all materialism through Time." - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Materialism is decadent and degenerate only if the spirit of the nation has withered and if individual people are so unimaginative that they wallow in it." - Brooks Atkinson, fully Justin Brooks Atkinson

"The cure for "Materialism" is to have enough for everybody and to spare. When people are sure of having what they need they cease to think about it." - Henry Ford

"Our life on earth is, and ought to be, material and carnal. But we have not yet learned to manage our materialism and carnality properly; they are still entangled with the desire for ownership." - E. M. Forster, fully Edward Morgan Forster

"It is not materialism that is the chief curse of the world, as pastors teach, but idealism. Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously." - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"What is the standpoint of materialism?... We look outwards (via the senses) for the explanation and cause of everything. We start from phenomena as absolute truth... Materialism gives sense and physical matter priority over mind or idea... The customary standpoint of scientific materialism is that primary matter is dead - and the universe is dead and nature is dead - and a dead nature can, of course, aim at nothing. It cannot be teleological." - Maurice Nicoll

"Agnosticism and materialism... are the fruits of that spiriutal heresy of Humanism by which man came to see himself as a whole, instad of a spiritual-social-biological organism in living relation to the real world of spirit, of other men and things." - V. A. Demant, fully Vigo Auguste Demant

"Materialism assumes a line of `continuity’ running through the whole scheme of nature, despite its obvious gaps; on the contrary, he underlines the significance of `discontinuity’ as positive evidence of the intervention of a higher source of influence which escapes man’s limited `scale of observation.’ A giant or a microbe would, with similar intelligence, observe the same phenomenon differently; they might be guided by their scales of observation to different, or at least, to modified conclusions. There is no scientific truth in an absolute sense. The phrase Ad veritatem per scientiam is an absurdity." - L. Francis Edmunds

"Our life on earth is, and ought to be, material and carnal. But we have not yet learned to manage our materialism and carnality properly; they are still entangled with the desire for ownership." - W. R. Forrester, fully William Roxburgh Forrester

"Sufficient time must be devoted to the process of “being” rather than “doing.” This is perhaps life’s greatest lesson of all. It is not only true that mindless materialism leaves us empty; materiality alone means that we do not know the value of time. We are actually afraid of time, as well as meaning and value; and this is why we turn to materialism." - Kenneth Hanson, aka Ken Hanson

"The very fact that one can conceive [a]… possible solution may save one from being in the pessimistic position of imagining that there can be no possible purpose in the process at all. Such a defeatist loss of all sense of meaning… is one of the tragic outcomes of the materialism of today." - Alister Hardy, fully Sir Alister Clavering Hardy

"I believe that, for the rest of the world, contemporary America is an almost symbolic concentration of all the best and the worst of our civilization. On the one hand, there are its profound commitment to enhancing civil liberty and to maintaining the strength of its democratic institutions, and the fantastic developments in science and technology which have contributed so much to our well-being; on the other, there is the blind worship of perpetual economic growth and consumption, regardless of their destructive impact on the environment, or how subject they are to the dictates of materialism and consumerism, or how they, through the omnipresence of television and advertising, promote uniformity, and banality instead of a respect for human uniqueness." - Václav Havel

"The dogma that “mental diseases are diseases of the brain” is a hangover from the materialism of the 1870s. It has become a prejudice which hinders all progress, with nothing to justify it." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"We are in the grip of a scientific materialism, caught in a vicious cycle where our security today seems to depend on regimentation and weapons which will ruin us tomorrow… the intellectual achievements of great scientists are being perverted by the material exploitation of industry and war…I have lived to experience the early results of scientific materialism… have watched pride of workmanship leave and human character decline as efficiency of production lines increased… I have seen the science I worshipped and the aircraft I loved destroying the civilization I expected them to save." -

"Eternal peace is a dream, and not even a beautiful one. War is a part of God’s world order. In it are developed the noblest virtues of man: courage and abnegation, dutifulness and self-sacrifice. Without war the world would sink into materialism." - Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, fully Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Molke

"Intelligence alone is dangerous if it is not subjected to the intuitive or rational perception of moral values. It has led, not only to materialism, but to monstrosities." -

"If the great religions continue to waste their energies in a fratricidal war instead of looking upon themselves as friendly partners in the supreme task of nourishing the spiritual life of mankind, the swift advance of secular humanism and moral materialism is assured." - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

"A way of life that bases itself on materialism, i.e., on permanent, limitless expansionism in a finite environment, cannot last long, and that its life expectation is the shorter the more successfully it pursues its expansionist objectives." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher

"There persists, however, throughout the whole period the fixed scientific cosmology which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread throughout space in a flux of configurations. In itself such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what is does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations which do not spring from the nature of being. It is this assumption that I call scientific materialism. Also it is an assumption which I shall challenge as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situations at which we have now arrived." - Alfred North Whitehead

"Theology is an incubus that a humanist can never shake off. He may seek refuge from theism in atheism or from animism in materialism. But after each desperate twist and turn he will find himself committed to some theological position or other. Theology is inescapable, and it is dynamite." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Civilization begins by a magnificent materialization of human purpose; it ends in a purposeless materialism. An empty triumph, which revolts even the self that created it." - Lewis Mumford

"We are in the grip of a scientific materialism, caught in a vicious cycle where our security today seems to depend on regimentation and weapons which will ruin us tomorrow… the intellectual achievements of great scientists are being perverted by the material exploitation of industry and war…I have lived to experience the early results of scientific materialism… have watched pride of workmanship leave and human character decline as efficiency of production lines increased… I have seen the science I worshipped and the aircraft I loved destroying the civilization I expected them to save." - Charles Lindbergh, fully Charles Augustus Lindbergh, nicknamed "Slim,""Lucky Lindy" and "The Lone Eagle"

"An attitude to life which seeks fulfillment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth / in short, materialism / does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited." -

"An attitude to life which seeks fulfillment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth / in short, materialism / does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher

"If materialism is true, it seems to me that we cannot know that it is true. If my opinions are the result of the chemical processes going on in my brain, they are determined by the laws of chemistry, not those of logic. " -

"If materialism is true, it seems to me that we cannot know that it is true. If my opinions are the result of the chemical processes going on in my brain, they are determined by the laws of chemistry, not those of logic." - J. B. S. Haldane, fully John Burdon Sanderson Haldane

"Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual's consciousness does indeed touch infinity - a total embrace of the entire Kosmos - a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It is at least plausible. And tell me: is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Listen very carefully: just which of those two stories actually sounds totally insane?" - Ken Wilber, fully Kenneth Earl Wilber II

"My philosophical viewpoint: The world is rational. Human reason can, in principle, be developed more highly (through certain techniques). There are systematic methods for the solution of all problems. There are other worlds and rational beings of a different and higher kind. The world in which we live is not the only one in which we shall live or have lived. There is incomparably more knowable a priori that is currently known. The development of human thought since the Renaissance is thoroughly one-dimensional. Reason in mankind will be developed in every direction. Formal rights comprise a real science. Materialism is false. The higher beings are connected to the others by analogy, not by composition. Concepts have an objective existence. There is a scientific (exact) philosophy and theology, which deals with concepts of the highest abstractness; and this is also most highly fruitful for science. Religions are, for the most part, bad—but religion is not." - Kurt Gödel, also Goedel

"Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort. They must be based on and tested by objective reality. Unless one makes the effort one is liable to slip into idealism and metaphysics." - Mao Tse-tung, alternatively Zedong, Ze dong, aka Chairman Mao

"The only cure for materialism is the cleansing of the six sense (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind). If the senses are clogged, one's perception is stifled. The more it is stifled, the more contaminated the sense become. This creates disorder in the world, and that is the greatest evil of all." - Morihei Ueshiba

"A person must know that “Gods glory fills the entire world” (Isiah 6), and “There is no place void of Him” (Tikunei Zohar), and “He fills all worlds and surrounds all worlds” (Zohar)… even in the most defiled places there is godliness, for He gives life to everything as it says, “And you give life to everything” (Nechemia 9). So even if a person is stuck in the lowest of places he cannot excuse himself and say “I cannot serve Hashem here because of all the thickness and materialism that attacks me always,” for even there you can find Him and cling to Him and do complete teshuva, “For it is not far from you” (devarim 30), only that in this place there are many garments." - Nachman of Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Bratslav, Nachman from Uman NULL

"Wealth makes materialism easier to bear." - P. J. O'Rourke

"Another weakness of materialism was its whole-hearted identification of itself with the principles of elementary mechanics. It was naively scientific. We may call this species of materialism reductive materialism. . . . By its very principle evolutionary materialism is opposed to reductive materialism. It is not finalistic, or teleological, in the old sense . . . but it does not hold that relations in nature are external and that things are machines of atomic complexity. Organization and wholes are genuinely significant." - R. W. Sellars, fully Roy Wood Sellars

"No, I'm just a man committed to great ideas." - Ronald Reagan, fully Ronald Wilson Reagan

"When the past has taught us that we have more within us than we have ever used, our prayer is a cry to the divine to come to us and fill us with its power." - Rudolf Steiner, fully Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner

"To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other." - Thomas Jefferson

"Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no worth at all, if not perhaps, results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you will start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself." - Thomas Merton

"I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home." - Thomas Merton

"Man is homo religiosus, by 'nature' religious: as much as he needs food to eat or air to breathe, he needs a faith for living." - Will Herberg

"In the strict formulation of the law of causality—if we know the present, we can calculate the future—it is not the conclusion that is wrong but the premise." - Werner Heisenberg, fully Werner Karl Heisenberg

"I am not fond of the Germans by any means but at the present time it is more advantageous to use them than to challenge them. An independent Poland is very dangerous to Soviet Russia: it is an evil which, however, at the present time has also its redeeming features; for while it exists, we may safely count on Germany, because the Germans hate Poland and will at any time make common cause with us in order to strangle Poland. ... Everything teaches us to look upon Germany as our most reliable ally. Germany wants revenge, and we want revolution. For the moment our aims are the same. When our ways part they will be our most ferocious and our great enemies. Time will tell whether a German hegemony or a Communist federation is to arise out of the ruins of Europe." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"No revolution is worth anything unless it can defend itself." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"The nearer we come to the full military suppression of the bourgeoisie, the more dangerous becomes to us the high flood of petty-bourgeois Anarchism. And the struggle against these elements cannot be waged with propaganda and agitation alone. … The struggle must also be waged by applying force and compulsion." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"The specific feature of the present situation in Russia is that the country is passing from the first stage of the revolution—which, owing to the insufficient class-consciousness and organization of the proletariat, placed power in the hands of the bourgeoisie—to its second stage, which must place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"There is no answer to the evils of mass unemployment and mass migration into cities, unless the whole level of rural life can be raised, and this requires the development of an agro-industrial culture, so that each district, each community, can offer a colorful variety of occupations to its members." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher