For much of the twentieth century the idea that the world was essentially only material stuff was the dominant view. But now it is under attack from all sides. Science has seemingly eradicated the material in favour of fields and energy, mathematics and information. And more radically quantum physics seems to make material reality itself unreachable. Meanwhile, the intractable problem of consciousness is no closer to being solved.
Should we as a result embrace the immaterial, as a welcome end to the reductive dogmas of materialist philosophy? Offering an exciting future with the potential for other forms of being and understanding? Or is the immaterial, however understood, necessarily inaccessible, and of no value to our theories and our actions?
Philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright, chemist and naturalist Peter Atkins, and metaphysician Bernardo Kastrup investigate what the world’s made of.