Material People

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Dualism and materialism are competing answers to the question each of us may ask with the words 'What am I?' (spoken in a metaphysical tone of voice, with emphasis on the word 'am'). The following (admittedly somewhat stipulative) working definition of 'dualism' will suffice for present purposes: the doctrine that no human being is an object composed entirely of the kinds of physical stuff that make up rocks and trees and the bodies of animals, but that each of us is, instead, something quite different-a substance that has sensory experiences, thoughts, and emotions, but shares almost nothing in common (except, perhaps, spatial location) with the physical objects that surround us or with their fundamental constituents (electrons, quarks, and so on). By 'materialism', the article means the doctrine that each human being is an object all of whose parts are, ultimately, made of the same kinds of physical substances as rocks and trees and the bodies of animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191577284
ISBN (Print)9780199284221
StatePublished - Sep 2 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Dualism
  • Emotions
  • Human being
  • Materialism
  • Physical substance
  • Sensory experience
  • Thoughts

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  • Cite this

    Zimmerman, D. W. (2009). Material People. In The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics Oxford University Press.