Tuesday, September 09, 2008

In Our Time: Materialism

In Our Time (BBC)
Host: Melvyn Bragg

If we go back to the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them, and that custom, respect and tyranny support them.

It’s provocative stuff even today and certainly was in 1770 when published by Baron D’Holbach in his book The System of Nature. The baron’s boldness was underpinned by Materialism, a philosophical idea so dangerous that every copy of the book was condemned to be burnt. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, materialism dominates much of our understanding of the world today.

But what does materialism really mean, how has it developed over time and can we still have free will if we are living in a materialist world?


Anthony Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London

Caroline Warman, Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford

Anthony O’Hear, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Buckingham

Listen to the conversation

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