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I noticed this Webster 1913 node in the Random Nodes sidebar and realized that it might just be a good idea to revive the words "corporealism" and "corporealist". These days, the word "materialism" has too long been (ab)used by preachers and rhetors to mean "greed" or even "shallowness", and may not be easily reclaimable for philosophical use.

Thus: Corporealism, once known as materialism, is the philosophical position that all things are corporeal -- that is to say, material or physical. All is atoms and the void, as Democritus put it -- or, in modern terms, wave/particles and space-time.

Human existence, particularly, is wholly corporeal. The mind or consciousness emerges out of electrochemical activity contained in the body, particularly the brain and nervous system. This means that the mind can be altered -- and, indeed, improved -- through physical means; but also that the personality ceases to exist if the brain dies or is destroyed.

Corporealism necessarily contradicts many religions, which hold to a belief in a "soul" or "spirit", an invisible and indeed undetectable essence of the mind or persona. The soul belief, like much of religion (or essentialism in general), is beautiful in its way, but we have no reason to believe that it is literally true.

Still, the point of corporealism should not be to malign or attack essentialist belief systems -- leave that to existentialism -- but rather to encourage us to make good use of our knowledge about the physical world.

Cor*po"re*al*ism (-?z'm), n.




© Webster 1913.

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