The Disease of Materialism

Alexis de Tocqueville, in some ways the father of sociology, was a 19th century French philosopher and statesman who traveled in the United States in the early 1800’s, later writing about his findings in his masterpiece, Democracy in America. This book takes a comprehensive view on culture, society, and political science (through the lens of early America), and Tocqueville’s penetration and keen understanding of his subject is one of the best and most comprehensive ever written on the subject.

In the quote of his I share below, it is not wished to emphasize politics, but rather the dangers of materialistic philosophy amongst the sciences and in culture, as contrasted with spirituality and religion; and the effects each has on man overall.

Spirituality is instinctively hard wired into our species. This is an objective reality, and science, culture, and the very well being of individual man ignores this fact at his own peril.

(Emphasis is mine)

"But while man takes delight in this honest and lawful pursuit of his own well-being, it is to be apprehended that in the end he may lose the use of his sublimest faculties, and that while he is busied in improving all around him, he may at length degrade himself. Here, and here only, does the peril lie. It should therefore be the unceasing object of the legislators of democracies and of all the virtuous and enlightened men who live there to raise the souls of their fellow citizens and keep them lifted up towards heaven. It is necessary that all who feel an interest in the future destinies of democratic society should unite, and that all should make joint and continual efforts to diffuse the love of the infinite, lofty aspirations, and a love of pleasures not of earth. [b]If among the opinions of a democratic people any of those pernicious theories exist which tend to inculcate that all perishes with the body, let men by whom such theories are professed be marked as the natural foes of the whole people.

The materialists are offensive to me in many respects; their doctrines I hold to be pernicious, and I am disgusted at their arrogance. If their system could be of any utility to man, it would seem to be by giving him a modest opinion of himself; but these reasoners show that it is not so; and when they think they have said enough to prove that they are brutes, they appear as proud as if they had demonstrated that they are gods.

Materialism, among all nations, is a dangerous disease of the human mind; [/b]but it is more especially to be dreaded among a democratic people because it readily amalgamates with that vice which is most familiar to the heart under such circumstances. Democracy encourages a taste for physical gratification; this taste, if it become excessive, soon disposes men to believe that all is matter only; and materialism, in its turn, hurries them on with mad impatience to these same delights; such is the fatal circle within which democratic nations are driven round. It were well that they should see the danger and hold back.

Most religions are only general, simple, and practical means of teaching men the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That is the greatest benefit which a democratic people derives from its belief, and hence belief is more necessary to such a people than to all others. When, therefore, any religion has struck its roots deep into a democracy, beware that you do not disturb it; but rather watch it carefully, as the most precious bequest of aristocratic ages. Do not seek to supersede the old religious opinions of men by new ones, lest in the passage from one faith to another, the soul being left for a while stripped of all belief, the love of physical gratifications should grow upon it and fill it wholly.

The doctrine of metempsychosis is assuredly not more rational than that of materialism; nevertheless, if it were absolutely necessary that a democracy should choose one of the two, I should not hesitate to decide that the community would run less risk of being brutalized by believing that the soul of man will pass into the carcass of a hog than by believing that the soul of man is nothing at all. The belief in a supersensual and immortal principle, united for a time to matter is so indispensable to man’s greatness that its effects are striking even when it is not united to the doctrine of future reward and punishment, or even when it teaches no more than that after death the divine principle contained in man is absorbed in the Deity or transferred to animate the frame of some other creature. Men holding so imperfect a belief will still consider the body as the secondary and inferior portion of their nature, and will despise it even while they yield to its influence; whereas they have a natural esteem and secret admiration for the immaterial part of man, even though they sometimes refuse to submit to its authority. That is enough to give a lofty cast to their opinions and their tastes, and to bid them tend, with no interested motive, and as it were by impulse, to pure feelings and elevated thoughts.

It is not certain that Socrates and his followers had any fixed opinions as to what would befall man hereafter; but the sole point of belief which they did firmly maintain, that the soul has nothing in common with the body and survives it, was enough to give the Platonic philosophy that sublime aspiration by which it is distinguished.

It is clear from the works of Plato that many philosophical writers, his predecessors or contemporaries, professed materialism. These writers have not reached us or have reached us in mere fragments. The same thing has happened in almost all ages; the greater part of the most famous minds in literature adhere to the doctrines of a spiritual philosophy. The instinct and the taste of the human race maintain those doctrines; they save them often in spite of men themselves and raise the names of their defenders above the tide of time. It must not, then, be supposed that at any period or under any political condition the passion for physical gratifications and the opinions which are superinduced by that passion can ever content a whole people. The heart of man is of a larger mold; it can at once comprise a taste for the possessions of earth and the love of those of heaven; at times it may seem to cling devotedly to the one, but it will never be long without thinking of the other."

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America - Volume 2, Part 2, Chapter 15

Well that's certainly a very pertinent subject for our times. However I personally try to always maintain a humble tone when dwelling upon spiritual topics with materialistic people. The problem here arises when one expresses ideas that are not wholly proven by any scientific method and the materialist demands proof which cannot be fully satisfied. In fact I myself have no definitive assurance of these things except for the mystical texts I've read throughout the years, which while very compelling, remain the words of other men and not based on my own experience. So while I will dwell on these topics I can't fully endorse them because I myself haven't fully corroborated them.

One thing that is easily corroborated however is how the extreme materialism brings societies to a point of debauchery which is clearly detrimental. IF anything at least one should aspire to have a population interested in philosophical matters, which entertains their minds with thoughts about matters that concern humanity and its existence on this world. When people’s thoughts are exclusively focused on material gratification then the time of their social demise cant’ be far.

What is ignored by so called scientists who worship at the altar of Materialism are the countless scientific studies demonstrating observable super sensory phenomenona. This prejudice is hardly based on the scientific method, but rather based on a diseased religious ideology itself. What is also conveniently ignored is that the spiritual instinct is in our very biology.

Considering Aristotle for one, who was actually the founder of the scientific method, and who discoursed on metaphysics, one wonders how modern and forgettable scholars could consider these giants and founders of science itself to be so blind.

I think it is high time to call out the bankruptcy of the materialistic cult.

They hold these old philosophers in high esteem but they simply consider their works to be the work of people from an era of ignorance who didn't have enough tools to corroborate their theories. I myself to be honest have not yet seen very solid scientific evidence for mystical beliefs of the existence of the soul as of yet. I think in a way all the current endeavors to test artificial intelligence and trying to download human consciousness to the digital realm constitute an attempt of humankind to finally answer the age old question of, what is actually consciousness?

Also one must take into account how different branches of spiritual through there are, many of them being highly bogus. When you start talking about granting credibility to these things you have plenty of people espousing very different theories and it’s very complicated to establish which should be taken seriously and which shouldn’t. Scientific oriented people will call it all unfounded mystical superstition and disregard it outright, yet it’s true that it’s fascinating how people have a deep need for some kind of spiritual nourishment. Unfortunately this craving often leads them to cults that offer them cheap but gratifying ideologies which are based on nothing but fantasy.

I’ll point you to some scientific studies demonstrating super sensory phenomenona if you are not aware of them, in fact, I have already done so in this group. :wink:

Are there spurious spiritual theories? Sure. Are there also countless spurious scientific theories? Definitely. By this logic should one then reject the totality of all spirituality and science? That would be ridiculous, but it is just what the cult of materialism propounds.

Well to be honest I prefer to leave everything not fully demonstrable in the theoretical realm, whether scientific or metaphysical. I will totally be up for discussing these theories and entertain them but I won't go around professing them as the truth if I can't fully corroborate them, that would feel dishonest to me.

It’s interesting because many characters in the Kolbrin go over this very same preoccupation, the doubts that arise from someone who wants to believe in the immortality of the soul but hasn’t fully experienced themselves the actual vision that grants the full certainty. It’s a recurrent theme which leads to thinking that what I’m expressing was a very common thing even in ancient times (if indeed the Kolbrin is what it purports to be)

I’ll point you towards the scientific studies in super sensory phenomenona and certain areas of metaphysics if you haven’t seen any.

I think you actually posted some yourself in the area of reincarnation some time ago. :wink:

Yeah well I may have posted some interesting articles but that doesn't mean they represented definitive irrefutable evidence ;)

he fact that there have been multiple studies showing that children know minute details about other lives that they have no explainable way of knowing may not be irrefutable evidence, but it is pretty solid.

How high must the level of proof be? Materialistic standards are so high, nothing, not even their own beliefs, can be substantiated. From this standard, you can’t even prove you exist.

What should also be kept in mind here is that materialistic thinkers are inconsistent with their own beliefs. While ignoring evidence to the contrary, they proclaim all metaphysical existence and phenomenona to be nonexistent, claiming that the scientific method is the only pathway to truth. As the scientific method has in no way debunked metaphysical phenomenona (instead, to the contrary, it has affirmed it), materialists hold their core belief in something they cannot prove, and which scientific evidence of is irrationally obsfucated.

Ideological belief in something with no base, proof, or personal experience of that also ignores rational counter argument and evidence is one of the main definers of a cult. As the materialistic cult also attempts to extinguish the instinctive and natural drive of spirituality in mankind, this particular cult shows clear symptoms of a peculiar type of disease. It is worrisome that these traits are rarely noticed, and that healthier minds don’t combat this sickness more vigorously. Instead, more balanced minds more often pander to and seek the approval of the materialist.

The disease of the materialistic cult is bad enough in itself, but the harm it does to society, as Tocqueville discusses, is the really concerning issue. Again, it is high time to attack this pernicious element in society on all fronts. It is against nature, against evidence, against reason, and against health.

Fans of Manly Hall might enjoy these lectures:



The dangers of materialism on society are found in different areas. You brought up politics and sociology in twenty first century democracy. You mentioned science as being destructive to thought pattern and its outcome. Take a look at technology where the atom is embraced and manipulated to form faster computers, and handheld gadgets that distract the user and consume the attention of the user. Faster computers may be utilized well in the military and business and even at home. There is less time we are willing to take to perform every day tasks because we do not want to suffer the less pleasurable in life. In a Hedonist society, the pleasure hunt reigns supreme and the sacrifices of lending a helping hand to those in need is viewed as something less noble. With materialism, from atom to life form, there is a selfish zeal for more accomplishment, but it awakens human progress. I would not want to be out of a toilet for even a day, just how students should not be without a teacher for even a day.

The Humanist Manifesto II supports a tenet of atheism; that God does not exist. This doctrine is apart of college learning directed from teacher to student. Professors may know about it, though the ordinary person does not. I believe the doctrine excludes the absolute mindset of a Christian when using, remembering, and articulating the Bible. The humanist embrace a more relativist mindset where moral truths are relative to the beholder. Those who have received a humanist education are atheist do gooders, which seems positive to many people, but not those who hold Christ in their hearts. It may be inferred that the current education system crushes God and brings about the result of communist society, materialist society, and socialist society; take your pick. I do not believe someone who has a high level of training in philosophy would disagree. Democracy is what is supported by western nations and I hope it does not fail as in the past when it could not control its morality and state function.

Progress is nice and advances society through wars and economic malaise. The scientist may one day realize that at the core of his work is God and God’s hand in the cosmic moves the universe. Only when science recognizes God, will there be total loving kindness on earth. People will walk with each other and walk hand in hand.

I feel that perhaps democracy has already failed throughout the so-called democratic world. I believe, too, evidence abounds to support this belief.

I believe more and more scientists are actually coming to the conclusion there is something ‘out there’ that pertains to higher concepts. I have heard this through acknowledgements of ‘the God particle’, the ‘Universe’ as though it has some form of consciousness associated to, but far superior, than our own. I’m sure there are other titles used by science in order to integrate a somewhat materialistic view with that of a spiritual (or possibly even religious) view.

This is a very loaded comment, which I hardly know how to begin to respond to. I might begin by stating that all societies everywhere at bottom are democratic, because the rulers, in whatever form or system, require the majority of consent and will of the governed in order to rule. If the majority of a population unreservedly rejects their rules, rulers, or system, the governing system is not long for change. You might call the above a law of all human society, and that to reject this democratic underpinning of human interaction is to call nature herself a failure.

On the other hand, if what you mean is that the democratic systems we have in place are corrupted to their stated intent, that the people are overly fooled and apathetic, and there are countless manipulations in the political arena; I would have to agree. But the problem is not necessarily democracy in it of itself, as apathy, ignorance, and manipulation occur within any form of government or social structure. The problem is corruption itself, ignorance itself, apathy itself… and these things cannot be changed by changing the facade of the system. This is confusing cause and effect. The preconditions for a healthy society and government lie in the individual, and their regular human relations. Balance these, and the government will balance itself.

Some scientists will remain true to the scientific method wherever it leads, and not fall into the blind following of materialistic doctrine. And yes, the more we learn, the more we find proofs of metaphysical underpinnings of reality. Quantum physics and astronomy are just two of the most obvious, but we will see many more of these discoveries in the years ahead…

Yes Len, it is the latter I was referring to. And I agree, it is not so much the concept of democracy that is the problem so much as the people corrupting it.

As for the latter comment, I believe you are so right here, there will be many more discoveries in the years ahead - let’s hope so, anyway. The scientific method, like any method is susceptible to corruption though, and it is this I am referring to here. But that, too, has the potential to and for change. We will see how things pan out.

Lance, CERN is an institute that researches particle collision using a Large Hadron Collider. These particles that collide release energy that quickly dissipates. The energy release has been captured by electromagnetic camera and may one day be apart of a method to cultivate and store a more potent form of energy. Some in science groups have already supported a demonstration by CERN that shows white light. I believe white light was first calculated and portrayed on the Milton Spectrum. We associate white light with divinity, as with the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. This supernatural experience of white light during the time of Jesus and from him, along with recent CERN white light findings, is the manifestation of God because white light involves being at the core of divinity and the core of atoms in the natural world. So, the manifest white light discovered with Jesus, and the scientific record under the Milton Spectrum can jointly be called the “God particle.” There are scientists that would challenge this and say that there is no link between white light and the divine, but it is now apart of our physical world, nature, and can grip human senses and faculties. A union with the spiritual and material worlds.

Three scientific discoveries that have happened within the past twenty years are cloning, stem cell organ harvesting, and nano-robotics. Dolly the sheep was cloned and died before reaching maturity perhaps because her genetic code did not deliver proper instructions to her. Cloning research never stopped, only traveled to Australia and other countries. I believe human cloning will show the same results as with Dolly the sheep. A scientific discovery left hammered down by failed success and well reasoned ethical standards.

Stem Cell research has not made any significant advances over the past few decades. Protein synthesis takes time and like with organ transplants from human to human, usually do not hold steady and healthy because the organs are recognized as foreign by the body. This also, leads to early death, but not as early a death as without the transferred organ. Nano-robotics is an isolated zone of scientific research. So far, cancer treatments by nano-bots have sometimes worked. It is very rare that treatment is offered, though organizations such as the Wyss Institute construct cancer treatments using nano-bots. Both of these science discoveries have yet to prove satisfactory for general use.

With advances in science, the material world can be corrupted. God needs to be in the hearts of people so science complements spirituality. It was tried during the Roman Empire.

CERN is an institute that researches particle collision using a Large Hadron Collider...
True Christopher. I believe this same white light was referred to, back in Moses time (and before) as Manna [from Heaven]. It is the same white light residing in everything. It is also the same white light drawn into this physical realm by ancient metaphysicians (by whatever name). It is also the same light used by various non-scientific groups today - and into the future.

A union with the spiritual and material worlds this has always been, for the material worlds would not exist without the spiritual counterpart. Whether scientists believe in the link between this ‘white light’ and the divine is mere semantics (I believe). There are those scientists who do not want to believe in a divine anything and there are those who do. We live in a universe or dimension of opposites, so opposites there must be.

Three scientific discoveries that have happened within the past twenty years are cloning, stem cell organ harvesting, and nano-robotics...
Cloning - it will be interesting to see how this method of prolonging one's life will work where humans are concerned. Without that divine light that exists in all living things, I wonder how such a creature would exist and function as someone who was naturally conceived and born. My understanding is that from conception a discarnate entity overshadows us, eventually to take its place in the forming foetus, and to eventually be born, live and die. I was originally going to use this as an example of how cloning would fail without the presence of an overshadowing discarnate entity. But I can see no real reason why this couldn't still happen. I suppose a discarnate entity could still be possibly drawn to an evolving clone were the conditions right. Hmmm, worth more consideration on my part.

If the light were in the original cell or cells used for cloning, then I can’t really see why the remainder of the animal/humanoid/creature should not be filled with it, as I would assume the exact same conditions would also be reproduced. Who knows how far scientists are willing to go. But I, for one, have enjoyed the act of procreation - test tubes don’t really do it for me.

Stem Cells - this research does have its positive points, but humans being what they are, especially those who can afford to go beyond the mere health benefits, could quite easily abuse this process by paying for what could be considered ‘unethical’ experimentation - we hear of these things in fictional novels as well as in real life. The fact that stem cells work is, to me, testament to the validity of the divine light working within each cell. Were it otherwise, the cells would be dead (or lifeless as we understand the term) and thus non-functioning.

Nano-bots - I have difficulty in viewing an automaton, robot, or prosthetic as having any life force in it whatsoever. I do believe the divine light is still there within the molecular, atomic and subatomic particle levels, but I cannot see how the life force could be. Mind you, nano-bot technology is still in its infancy as far as mainstream science is concerned. So who knows what might happen.

God needs to be in the hearts of people so science complements spirituality. It was tried during the Roman Empire.
Yes. And we are still paying for that one inasmuch as spirituality dissolved into religion which devolved into control via fear and corruption.
With advances in science, the material world can be corrupted.
As it can be in health, politics, technology, economics, etc.

Regarding this Alexis de Tocqueville fellow, I think the statement,

The doctrine of metempsychosis is assuredly not more rational than that of materialism; nevertheless, if it were absolutely necessary that a democracy should choose one of the two, I should not hesitate to decide that the community would run less risk of being brutalized by believing that the soul of man will pass into the carcass of a hog than by believing that the soul of man is nothing at all.

May be a little dramatic. I guess i would stick to my guns and say that all human endeavors are relatively self-serving. Just because your sat on a rock in Tibet meditating it doesn’t necessarily make you higher or more spiritual than someone toiling in the fields of Babylon or some poor schmuck sat in front of the television. I have found personally the influence of most religion is toward family. So i guess i will play the prophetic role of one of the guys who is going to come along and tell you the material world is not so different from the immaterial one. We are at the end of the day only human? In fact i would see the spirit realm as being eternally dark and shadowy and the true light is in our world, in the loving of our children and such the like. I guess i would ultimately agree with Alexis de Tocqueville that one has a yearning for the other. I would also agree with him that reincarnation is, not for me, that favorable a POV. Seems to me that life is born anew each moment let alone with each birth or death. The idea of some stodgy old spirit hanging around doesn’t appeal to me especially if it’s seeking to posses the things around me!

Most religions are only general, simple, and practical means of teaching men the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That is the greatest benefit which a democratic people derives from its belief, and hence belief is more necessary to such a people than to all others. When, therefore, any religion has struck its roots deep into a democracy, beware that you do not disturb it; but rather watch it carefully, as the most precious bequest of aristocratic ages. Do not seek to supersede the old religious opinions of men by new ones, lest in the passage from one faith to another, the soul being left for a while stripped of all belief, the love of physical gratifications should grow upon it and fill it wholly.

I would have to say Alexis de Tocqueville has an intriguing point here. I think the danger we have today is not of ‘disturbing’ the roots of religion but ripping them out all together! Particularly in Britain where we have a large part of the population who are deeply religious and another part that is deeply secular. I would point out that we in Britain are now adopting a ‘free school’ approach to education which may serve only to deepen this divide. But to have such a rapid influx of new ideas and opinions is unparalleled, as i suppose it is with technology. So i would say that one explanation for materialism is the idea that we are approaching the steep end of an exponential roller coaster and people are out to get what they can because intrinsically they know there isn’t that much left! I would say that the powers that be clearly exacerbate the situation by a refusal to do what is obviously necessary. But you only have to look at history to see an endless trail of greed and perhaps missed opportunities. So the human race is going to be selfish whether it is under a feudal, religious, democratic governance because that is in our nature as much as the need for spirituality is. I think ultimately we have to have faith in nature to balance our system and if we could feed the hungry mouths and home the homeless that would put people at ease. I guess it is clear that there is a seemingly eternal conflict at the heart of human affairs. I have always seen it this way, there is destruction in the heavens and earth so wouldn’t we be arrogant to think there would be no destruction in human affairs and in our hearts, even our souls? This is where religion comes in and tells you, you will have more children than there are grains of sand on the beach and that you will forever live in a land of milk and honey.

I am not however standing here to defend some playboy in his daddies Ferrari. I do feel slightly cautious about criticizing the man who works 10 hours a day and never sees his family so wants to take them on a nice holiday or buy them some presents even though as they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But to frog march him into a church where the preacher speaks Latin and forbids him his nature is not, in my humble opinion, going to solve anything. Neither by the way is taking him to some sacred grove and stripping his clothes off! I would propose that if there is an immortal soul, it will make contact with you, not you with it.

But for a guy who was around in the 1800s he was pretty on the ball! Especially today with the television and the automobile. With regards to modern science, i think we have defiantly lost the spark of true ingenuity but who is to say that we haven’t been spoiled by someone like Einstein or Newton? From whence do such great men come? But i would regard all great thinkers like that as having a spark at least, even if not a divine one.

Regarding the difference between and union of the spiritual and material worlds; I would have to say first of all that we don’t fully understand the spiritual world, by its nature or through our ignorance of it. Nor do we totally understand the material world. I find it hard to ignore the fact that the difference between them exists in our minds. So for us to cavalierly say this is spirit and that is material may be an over estimation of our ability. I would say this comes back to the problem of nothingness for the mathematician or the spiritualist. As i have said the equation 0=0 is pretty dull. Both the spiritual and the material world require humanity to “grow upon it and fill it wholly.” as Alexis de Tocqueville warns us against rather provocatively regarding physical gratification. So as with consciousness, it should not be a problem for us to approximate how it came to be or what it is, as we ourselves have gone through the process of becoming conscious. There is no better author regarding that topic than yourself. Nor should it be hard for us to comprehend of a union between the spiritual and the material because we ourselves are that union.

I think it worth remembering the people who work at the CERN collider looking at all the complicated sets of equations and data are just one part in a larger chain that we as individuals have very little power over. I think defiantly if you want to see Gods white light look at the CERN collider, look at its construction, its purpose, the materials. That machine has the potential to change life on this planet drastically. The electromagnets themselves are worth considerably more than there weight in gold! So, here is to the union of the spiritual and material, I think it has been said that we see this union best in the relation between our theories and reality; the loftiness of our dreams and our humble realities.

“Most religions are only general, simple, and practical means of teaching men the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That is the greatest benefit which a democratic people derives from its belief, and hence belief is more necessary to such a people than to all others.” Alexis de Tocqueville

I think this is so key. Belief is not i would say necessary. In some way you could say air (as in oxygen) is necessary but i wouldn’t feel it to be an appropriate word, the word i would use would be essential. Belief is essential in a modern democratic people. They have to believe as the Egyptians did that if they don’t drudge off to work that the sun will not rise in the morning as the Egyptians (and so many other peoples) did when they were building the temples and monuments. It is a common belief we all hold and essential true i guess. And furthering the point, such is a modern economics that it is totally self serving, at least the Egyptians did something other than (as well as) make money.

whoah… :o, so many topics, i dont know how they relate to materialism, if that’s what this is all about…, can i share something in this? probably not intellectual by your standards but i dont care,… materialism, dont know what exactly it means, but maybe this thing is what comes after we have developed so many things, or so many “material/s”. that we lose sight of the basics… lets put this theory in a different time and environment… will it stand? lets say we have the intellect of today, but we live in the stone age? sure we would think of how to better our living, then we need resources, so we would need tools, and so on, so we have the materials to make things easy, then some people would naturally think that with all of our “material” we could have, want , build, anything that we hope for, but then, when all this materials, resources, are gone and we end up back in the stone age, will it still count,… all our advancement in technology? in “material”? there’s nothing wrong in wanting, what comes after the wanting is the choice that we all have to make… , :stuck_out_tongue: