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Matter has historically been considered to be a basic substance or material structural component of the universe, having the properties of mass and volume, and often juxtaposed against mind. It is used loosely as a general term for the substance that makes up all observable physical objects. Special relativity indicates that matter may be converted into energy or created from energy. It may be considered to be composed of particles, as opposed to anti-particles or antimatter.




  • In later years, Pauli seems to have decided that Bohr himself was not a complete supporter of the Copenhagen interpretation. ...He felt that the real Copenhagen interpretation did insist that the mind was something that you could not avoid referring to in formulating quantum mechanics. Pauli thought, as far as I can judge, that the division between system and apparatus was ultimately between mind and matter.
  • Matter, in our view, is an aggregate of ‘images’. And by ‘image’ we mean a certain existence which is more than that which the idealist calls a representation, but less than that which the realist calls a thing,—an existence placed half-way between the ‘thing’ and the ‘representation’. This conception of matter is simply that of common sense.
  • Of course, we must avoid postulating a new element for each new phenomenon. But an equally serious mistake is to admit into the theory only those elements which can now be observed. For the purpose of a theory is not only to correlate the results of observations that we already know how to make, but also to suggest the need for new kinds of observations and to predict their results. In fact, the better a theory is able to suggest the need for new kinds of observations and to predict their results correctly, the more confidence we have that this theory is likely to be good representation of the actual properties of matter and not simply an empirical system especially chosen in such a way as to correlate a group of already known facts.
    • David Bohm, "A Suggested Interpretation of the Quantum Theory in Terms of 'Hidden' Variables," (January 15 1952). Physical Review 35 (2): 189.
  • Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty because even in the vacuum matter is one; and if we don't see this, it's because we are blinding ourselves to it.
    • David Bohm, (1986) as quoted by Joseph Riggio Towards a Theory of Transpersonal Decision-Making in Human-Systems (2007)
  • His philosophical solution of the spiritual problem lay in his affirmation of the identity of the mind and matter and in his assurance that the entire universe can be regarded as readily from the point of view of its consciousness... as it can be viewed as inert matter.
  • I recently listened to a talk by a famous biologist. He spoke about... scientific materialism and religious transcendentalism. He said, "...they are incompatible and mutually exclusive." This seems to be a widely accepted view... I do not share it. I do not know what the word "materialism" means. ...I judge matter to be an imprecise and ...old-fashioned concept ...[M]atter is the way particles behave when a large number of them are lumped together. When we examine matter in the finest detail in experiments of particle physics, we see it behaving as an active agent... Its actions are... unpredictable. It makes what appear to be arbitrary choices between alternative possibilities. Between matter... and mind... there seems to be only a difference of degree... We stand... midway between the unpredictability of matter and the unpredictability of God. This view... may not be true, but it is... logically consistent and compatible with... experiments of modern physics. Therefore... scientific materialism and religious transcendentalism are neither incompatible nor mutually exclusive. We have learned that matter... does not limit God's freedom to make it do what he pleases.
  • Matter in quantum mechanics is not an inert substance but an active agent, constantly making choices between alternative possibilities according to probabilistic laws. ...It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every electron. ...Our brains appear to be devices for the amplification of the mental component of the quantum choices made by molecules inside our heads. ...There is evidence from peculiar features of the laws of nature that the universe as a whole is hospitable to the growth of mind. extension of the Anthropic Principle up to a universal scale.
  • Natural science served as - if we overlook the hasty identification of mind and matter which had its origin in natural science - as a shining and fruitful example to psychology.
  • Popular thought, supported by desires common to all human beings, readily accepts the view that mind is essentially different from matter, that its laws are in every respect different from the laws of material nature, and that the brain, being a part of the material nature, is simply the special tool used by the mind in its intercourse with nature.
  • Leibniz reversed the traditional conception of mind and matter by applying attributes of matter (in terms of sensory experience) to mind. Mind is what it experiences. Every mind or soul becomes an independent attribute of the universe, divinely ordered or arranged. Leibniz’s focus truly was mind.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 2. German and Viennese Intellectual Thought
  • Materialism in its literal sense is long since dead. But its place has been taken by other philosophies which represent a virtually equivalent outlook. The tendency today is not to reduce everything to manifestations of matter—since matter now has only a minor place in the physical world—but to reduce it to manifestations of the operation of natural law... laws of the type prevailing in geometry, mechanics, and physics which are found to have this common characteristic—that they are ultimately reducible to mathematical equations. ...[T]hey are laws which, unlike human law, are never broken. It is the belief in the universal dominance of scientific law which is nowadays generally meant by materialism.


  • He said that the beginning of the universe was mind and matter, mind being the creator and matter that which came into being.
  • Epicurus held an opinion almost the opposite of all others. He supposed that the beginnings of the universals were atoms and a void; that the void was as it were the place of the things that will be; but that the atoms were matter, from which all things are.
  • The fundamental principle of the atheism of Spinoza is the doctrine of the simplicity of the universe, and the unity of that substance, in which he supposes both thought and matter to inhere. There is only one substance, says he, in the world; and that substance is perfectly simple and indivisible, and exists every where, without any local presence. Whatever we discover externally by sensation; whatever we feel internally by reflection; all these are nothing but modifications of that one, simple, and necessarily existent being, and are not possest of any separate or distinct existence. Every passion of the soul; every configuration of matter, however different and various, inhere in the same substance, and preserve in themselves their characters of distinction, without communicating them to that subject, in which they inhere.
    • David Hume, A Treaties of Human Nature (1738-1740)
  • The upward progress of terrestrial life towards individuality has found apparently insurmountable obstacles, gross material difficulties before it, but once more through consciousness it finds wings, and, laughing at matter, flies over lightly where it could not climb.
    • Julian Huxley, "The Individual in the Animal Kingdom" (1912); quoted in From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences (1992) by Connie Barlow, Ch. 6 "Blurred Bounds of Individuality"
  • The entire cosmos is made out of one and the same world-stuff, operated by the same energy as we ourselves. "Mind" and "matter" appears as two aspects of our unitary mind-bodies. There is no separate supernatural realm: all phenomena are part of one natural process of evolution. There is no basic cleavage between science and religion; they are both organs of evolving humanity.
  • By... confounding the properties of matter with those of space he arrives at the logical conclusion, that if the matter within a vessel could be entirely removed the space within the vessel would no longer exist. In fact he assumes that all space must be always full of matter.
  • Descartes... fell back on his original confusion of matter with space—space being, according to him, the only form of substance, and all existing things but affections of space. This error... forms one of the ultimate foundations of the system of Spinoza.


  • Whilst Copernicus has persuaded us to believe, contrary to all the senses, that the earth does not stand fast Boscovich has taught us to abjure the belief in the last thing that stood fast of the earth—the belief in "substance," in "matter," in the earth-residuum, and particle-atom: it is the greatest triumph over the senses that has hitherto been gained on earth. One must, however, go still further, and also declare war... against the "atomistic requirements" which still lead a dangerous after-life in places where no one suspects them, like the more celebrated "metaphysical requirements": one must also above all give the finishing stroke to that other and more portentous atomism which Christianity has taught best and longest, the soul-atomism. Let it be pemitted to designate by this expression the belief which regards the soul as something indestructible, eternal, indivisible, as a monad, as an atomon : this belief ought to be expelled from science!
  • What now is the answer to the question as to the bridge between the perception of the senses and the concepts, which is now reduced to the question as to the bridge between the outer perceptions and those inner image-like representations. It seems to me one has to postulate a cosmic order of nature — outside of our arbitrariness— to which the outer material objects are subjected as are the inner images... The organizing and regulating has to be posited beyond the differentiation of physical and psychical... I am all for it to call this "organizing and regulating" "archetypes." It would then be inadmissible to define these as psychic contents. Rather, the above-mentioned inner pictures (dominants of the collective unconscious, see Jung) are the psychic manifestations of the archetypes, but which would have to produce and condition all nature laws belonging to the world of matter. The nature laws of matter would then be the physical manifestation of the archetypes.
  • Matter is substance that may be perceived through the medium of the senses. It has form, colour, weight, taste, smell; is hard or soft, moveable, or immoveable. Those who are acquainted with the principles of Natural Philosophy, will perceive that some of these properties are inherent in matter, and that others depend on circumstances. The human body is a material substance; that is, it has the properties of matter—so has a stone or a rock.
  • What is mind? no matter; what is matter? never mind.
    • Bertrand Russell attributes this to his grandmother ("The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell 1914-44" p. 40)
  • We must therefore not be discouraged by the difficulty of interpreting life by the ordinary laws of physics. For that is just what is to be expected from the knowledge we have gained of the structure of living matter. We must also be prepared to find a new type of physical law prevailing in it. Or are we to term it a non-physical, not to say a super-physical, law?
  • Matter and energy seem granular in structure, and so does "life", but not so mind.
  • My opinion concerning God differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by modern Christians. For I hold that God is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient. I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul, and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different ; I will even venture to affirm that I agree with all the ancient Hebrews, in so far as one may judge from their traditions, though these are in many ways corrupted. The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus the unity of God and Nature (meaning by the latter a certain mass or corporeal matter), is wholly erroneous.
  • To those who ask why God did not so create all men, that they should be governed only by reason, I give no answer but this: because matter was not lacking to him for the creation of every degree of perfection from highest to lowest; or, more strictly, because the laws of his nature are so vast, as to suffice for the production of everything conceivable by an infinite intelligence.
  • The matter which we suppose to be the main constituent of the universe is built out of small self-contained building-blocks, the chemical atoms. It cannot be repeated too often that the word "atom" is nowadays detached from any of the old philosophical speculations: we know precisely that the atoms with which we are dealing are in no sense the simplest conceivable components of the universe. On the contrary, a number of phenomena, especially in the area of spectroscopy, lead to the conclusion that atoms are very complicated structures. So far as modern science is concerned, we have to abandon completely the idea that by going into the realm of the small we shall reach the ultimate foundations of the universe. I believe we can abandon this idea without any regret. The universe is infinite in all directions, not only above us in the large but also below us in the small. If we start from our human scale of existence and explore the content of the universe further and further, we finally arrive, both in the large and in the small, at misty distances where first our senses and then even our concepts fail us.
  • What matter itself is we know not, but its properties and powers are essentially opposite, "toto genere," to those of mind. From the Infinite Mind matter in its nature must stand yet more perfectly distinct. It has even been argued that, since the effect cannot possess qualities which are not in the cause, and since the effect, in this instance, is material, the cause must be material also; or if the Infinite One be purely spiritual, then matter can be no creation but must have existed eternally. ...But it is not necessary that the effect should be of the same nature with the cause.

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