ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

If you're a materialist, can you think at all?

Updated on December 12, 2010
Seeing everything in black and white is so much fun. You can share your stupidity with your little friends and you don't have to look at the flower because it has colour which you might need to explain to someone if threatened.
Seeing everything in black and white is so much fun. You can share your stupidity with your little friends and you don't have to look at the flower because it has colour which you might need to explain to someone if threatened. | Source

Materialism can be defined as a behaviour as much as a mindset. In practice materialism isn't much more than the acceptance of the idea that the material world is far more important than the intangibles of mental world. Any concept which doesn't relate directly to identified physical principles and preset social norms is either dismissed as impossible or simply ignored.

It is an interesting fact that a mindset based purely on matter barely even recognizes its own thought patterns. It is also quite ironic that materialism is actually a type of ultra conformity based on an intangible social structure which is itself based on perceptions of the expectations of others.

Materialism and conformity are almost synonyms. Materialism rarely ventures away from its preset concepts. A new car may be comprehensible, but not a new idea. Materialists don't innovate. What a materialist thinks is "weird" can be anything from a 4000-year-old concept to things like feminism and human rights.

Materialism’s only social advantage is that it's based on "common wisdom". When Marco Polo returned from China, common wisdom derided him. The social idiom was that China, not being immediately visible and tangible, effectively didn't exist. This is a common form of materialism in which relevance can quite literally be confined to a room. Like the couch potatoesof today, the materialist horizon is basically what's on the immediate mental screen.

This wouldn't be such a serious problem if this process didn't effectively exclude any form of extended logic. Confining reality to a screen doesn't actually help logic very much. If you've ever met one of those people who can't make the logical jump from the preceding statement to the following statement, you see the problem. Materialism and associative logic are barely on speaking terms at the best of times.

One of the more common manifestations of the person whose associative and extended logic regularly goes off the rails when not holding on tightly to material subjects is "What are we talking about now?". A few decades ago, that used to be a joke. Now it's a nice safe admission of simply not understanding the subject. It’s used as an appeal to others, apparently stating that nobody is expected to understand the subject.

Materialistic thinking effectively uses the social idiom as a "get me out of here" mechanism when it can't follow the thinking of others. This process has been reinforced considerably by media, which portrays/betrays almost all human beings as having no levels of intelligence or ability to think whatsoever. It used to be funny, now it's a sort of mouse culture. "Clever" is stealing a bit of cheese five minutes after thinking of doing it and then running away to your hole and eating it.

Materialists use preset thinking methods to plan. A business model is a good example of material planning. It is logically set out, then sticks to very clear, very straightforward methodologies. However, the materialist doesn't actually perform any of the logic. Quite the opposite. The "how-to" methodologies are in effect at all times. The materialist planning has all the personal inspiration of filling in a form.

This is a type of extended logic, but it doesn't extend very far, and targets will be very simply defined. Run a society on that basis, and you could easily wind up back in the Middle Ages. Materialism usually doesn't recognize history, and if it did wouldn't know what to do with it.

Arguably materialism and the blue sky "Never put anything in practical terms" methods of thinking are as bad as each other. An interesting point that most ideologues actually think like materialists. Politics is a great example of blue sky blending with materialism into one large, verbose, useless mess that never achieves anything.

Ironically, of all institutions, religion is typically the most materialistic. Concepts which are by definition otherworldly are monotonously re-defined in worldly terms like a shopping list. God apparently has nothing better to do. Perhaps there was once some sort of spiritual revelation behind religion all those centuries ago, but endless dogma, theocratic tantrums and some really folksy total insanity appears to have removed any actual spiritual concepts from any form of religion.

So – Can materialists think? They don't have to. Materialist behaviour is largely based on another social idiom, which is largely interesting because it implies the ability to have a herd instinct without actually having a herd handy. All a materialist actually has to do is simply agree with someone else. If someone says "There are no such thing as UFOs", a materialist doesn't even have to process the information. Socially it is quite acceptable for materialists to simply agree with anyone having social status to make any statement whatsoever.

If a media commentator says that all trucks are chickens, the materialist will simply rephrase a statement and go and get some gas for his chicken. This may or may not be laziness, but it's more likely to be a sense of insecurity. Materialists on the whole are not strong thinkers. Socially, they are quite right to feel vulnerable in any situation where logic or multilevel thinking is involved.

It is interesting to note that a lot of the high school social groups, campus pranks, methodologies and pseudo-intellectual pecking orders are largely based on materialist-type learned behaviours. This seems to be the time when materialist realise that they're out of their depth, and the adult behaviour patterns kick in.

Mental puberty for materialists is obviously a very messy business. It's understandable that people at a distinct disadvantage in a social group would want some sort of counter-measures. It is quite common for materialists to undergo a sort of "conspicuous conformity stage" to ensure that they fit into their social group. Some people even laugh on cue, usually a fraction of a second after everybody else has started laughing.

Materialism is a handicap. It's a bit like the highly destructive form of autism, just less obvious. To be a materialist means to disassociate from one's inner self. This may be a blessing for materialists, because their chances of understanding their inner selves, which are all too real and all too close, are non-existent. The kind of thinking required to deal with one's inner self is too complex and involves too much extended logic. Better to be a birdbrain than learn how to fly, apparently.

Materialism shuts out experience, on multiple levels. Even the fun is dictated by strictly social norms. It's like giving diamonds to cattle or a Ferrari to a carrot. Materialists don't actually have a culture. They have a set of behaviors, and that's about it.

The materialist can look at a Van Gogh and see "a painting" with absolutely no hope of understanding it, or listen to Beethoven's Sixth Symphony and hear "noise". They can watch the news, and decide that it has nothing to do with them.

If that's materialism, they can have it.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Sorry for incredibly slow approval of your comment, I've been equally incredibly busy. Glad you liked it.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      6 years ago from Central Virginia

      I love this concept and think I could easily be considered an extreme non-materialist. lol Great hub!

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I've been wanting to write this for ages. The trick was to figure out how not to make a book out of it. Money is another case of a limited frame of reference as a focal point. As a matter of fact my definition of a peasant is someone that can't understand anything without a reference to money.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      A great train of thoughts right through. You are right that materists don't see or hear anything but money.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)