Matter (from the Latin materia = substance, theme, timber, cause, Greek equivalent Hyle = cloth, wood, forest) is a term for the base material from which made ​​all things of the world, regardless of their appearance. The precise determination of this very general concept coined the contemplation of nature in physics and various disciplines of philosophy since its origins and is still the subject of attempts at explanation. Was in the philosophy of nature and it is discussed whether such properties corresponds to a substrate as an object or property is ontologically apprehended and is distinguishable from other ontological terms, as of spirit, form or idea.

In everyday language, the term "matter " is often used synonymously with " material" or " substance", also meaning " theme or subject of an investigation, a branch of science or a school subject " ( " a complicated matter" ). In the didactics is spoken in this context of teaching material.

Formation of the concept of matter

Even the pre-Socratics were looking for a primary matter ( arché ), which is everything else is based. These were objects of sensory experience that certain characteristics ( widespread, mutability ) to appear to be suitable. For Thales, this primordial matter was water, for Anaximenes air, for Heraclitus the fire. Empedocles developed a four- element theory, the more the earth added to the stated substances added.

Therefore, it turned out also the question of the ratio of the primary matter to the other things available. For Thales, Anaximenes, and Heraclitus everything was created from the conversion of the respective primal matter. This was, however, contrary to the teaching of Parmenides, who considered the immutability of things as the supreme principle. Empedocles four- element theory represents a middle ground there, the self sees the elements as immutable, the sensible objects, however. Than a mixture of the primary bodies Change is therefore possible by changing the mixing ratios of primary matter. Anaxagoras reasoned a similar mixture theory, but with an infinite number of commodities instead of the four elements.

The concept of matter was also developed abstracted from the things of sense experience. For Anaximander was about the basic substance of all what has become the apeiron, an indeterminate base which is infinite and indivisible. Democritus and his teacher Leucippus founded the to modern times very influential concept of the atom. Unlike their predecessors ( Anaxagoras, Anaximander ) they saw the matter as not infinitely divisible, but as consisting of small units called atoms. These result, arranged in various ways, all other things, including the senses and the soul.

Plato and Aristotle impressed with their Chora or Hyle abstract concepts of matter that do not exist independently. Along with the idea or form result this primary matter the basis of sensible things.

Outside of Europe, developed similar concepts of primordial matter, such as the Indian Prakriti or the Chinese Hun Dun. Daoism also developed a model of the elements ( five- element theory ).

The idea that all things are the result of a general matrix, were overtaken by the scientific findings of the last century. The matter can not be defined by any basic properties such as mass or energy impenetrability. The only universal property which belongs to the matter, is their objective reality. The results from the opposition, from the primacy of matter to consciousness (spirit). The modern materialistic concept of matter has mainly gnosiological importance because with the objective reality only scientific knowledge activity is possible.

Matter as a counterpart to the idea or form

Plato in his dialogue Timaeus developed a conception of the world in which the Demiurge, a benevolent Creator God, in the disordered matter, the Chora, intervenes to shape the cosmos and all things out of it. The Demiurge is geared to the world of ideas and forms as everything physical replica of the eternal ideas. This relationship between things and ideas is, for example, in Plato's allegory of the cave expressed, be in the seemingly real sensible things as mere shadows of the ideas that the true beings ( ousia ) understood. From Chora caused by the intervention of the Demiurge, the elements, water, air, fire and ether. These five elements have the geometric form of the five Platonic solids and form the basis for all other bodies. Due to their geometric determination it is possible to establish mathematical relationships between the elements and their combination. This idea takes a few later scientific concepts of matter ( crystallography, symmetry, stereochemistry).

Aristotle developed a similar dichotomy between the universal, the form and what is formed of matter ( hyle ). To be formed from matter created reality ( entelecheia ), matter is in this sense the possibility ( dunamis ), formed (see act and potency ). Aristotle described the matter as a logical predictor ( "x is matter for y "), which allows a hierarchical structure of things from simple to complex. The Court noted, the materia prima as a formless primordial matter, which forms by shaping the materia secunda. This materia secunda in turn, can be kind of a thing more complex form as materia prima, and so on. This principle is found in the alchemist again, who sought the conversion of matter into higher forms, but also in the modern world of physics.

Matter as a counterpart to the spirit

In everyday life and in most scientific considerations, the existence of matter is not called into question, as it constantly leads to sensory experiences, both directly in investigations and experiments using technical aids. However, is such an argument for the existence of matter requires the premise that everything exists, which can be observed in any way by us humans. Both the validity and the necessity of this premise have been called into question. In addition, this observation raises the question, in what ratio the viewer is itself to matter, such as whether it exists independently of it in some way or not. This leads to the notion of spirit, to the question of his existence, and the mind-body problem. These questions are very basic and the responses to justify completely different philosophical schools that have also influenced the scientific terminology. These schools are dualists that mind and matter are, but to differentiate both to exist in their view of each other, and monism, the view either the matter or just the mind as the Primary and truly existing.

Followers of materialism presuppose the existence of matter and see anything but its manifestations, especially the sensory experiences and the mind. Democritus is seen as an early supporter of this direction in the 18th century as an important representative of La Mettrie and d' Holbach mentioned. This mindset was also driven by natural scientists such as Carl Vogt or Jacob Moleschott ahead in the 19th century. Laplace developed as a strictly deterministic world view in which any further development would be precisely calculated in advance, if you would know the state of the world at any given time ( Laplace demon). Special forms of materialism, dialectical and historical materialism can be found in Marx and Engels, who extended the concept of matter on, inter alia, the conditions of life.

In contrast, the idealism, which accords with the spirit of a primary existence. A distinction is made, whether it is a general spiritual principle is ( objective idealism ), or the concrete consciousness of man (subjective idealism ). Characteristic of the subjective idealism of Berkeley is set: " Esse est percipi " ( If there is being perceived ). Related to this line of thought are also the currents of constructivism.

In dualism eventually both mind and matter are recognized as independently existing. Descartes solved in this way the mind-body problem by assuming that both can interact. Leibniz went a step further and refused an interaction between mind and body. Karl Popper and John Eccles regarded as modern representatives of dualism.

Concept of matter in physics

In physics, matter has the status of a fundamental term. The term includes but unlike physical objects, such as fields or physical quantities such as mass and energy is no universally accepted definition. As an empirical science, the physics looks at the existence of matter through observations as occupied. Your work program regarding the matter is to study the properties and the structure of matter and its motion in space by means of experiments and exactly this by using self-consistent theories to describe and explain. In the context of cosmology, it also deals with the question of the origin of matter.

In classical physics, are all objects that have mass called matter. The property of mass means that forces must act to change the speed or direction of motion of a body ( inertial mass ), as well as the interaction with the gravitational force with which matter attracts each other ( gravitational mass ). Through these properties, the matter can be classically distinguish it from other physical objects such as force fields or electromagnetic waves.

In modern physics, such a separation proves to be difficult. With the theory of relativity became clear that there is a close correlation between energy and mass, the found of Einstein mass-energy equivalence. So the rest mass of a system is not the sum of the rest masses of all the individual particles of many particles. Rather, all types of energy, including the kinetic energy or the interaction of the particles contribute to the total energy with one another and thus the total mass of the system. For example, wear electromagnetic radiation (light) and fields to the total mass at, even if a single photon has no rest mass.

Matter is therefore often defined by their structure. The atomic theory of Democritus and the hierarchical conception of matter, Aristotle proved to be very successful here. Accordingly, there matter from small units, the atoms which are joined together by chemical bonding force to form larger units, the molecules and ultimately to the macroscopic matter. Contrary to the original meaning of the word - - However, the atoms themselves are not indivisible, but was in turn made ​​up of the electrons in the atomic shell and protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus much smaller. The arrangement of these components follows rules that are described in atomic and nuclear physics. This comes about a finite number of different types of atoms are called based on the classical doctrine Empedocles ' elements. Lastly, the core building blocks of protons and neutrons, in turn, from individual building blocks, the quarks composed.

Such atomic matter exists in different states of aggregation. The states of solid, liquid, gas and plasma in this case have parallels to the classic elements of antiquity, earth, water, air and fire. The explanation and description of the various physical states and the transitions between them is a subject of thermodynamics and statistical physics.

A further possibility for the definition of matter provides the standard model of particle physics. Accordingly, all elementary particles can be classified into two groups, which differ by their spin. Particles with integer spin, such as the photon, are called bosons and serve as the exchange particles for the description of interactions. Particles with half-integer spin are called fermions. The fermions are in addition to the quarks that make up protons and neutrons, also leptons such as electrons and neutrinos. A common definition, therefore, is to define all matter as things constructed of fermions.

The various properties of matter come first, by the different elements of existence, of which they consist, and on the other by the nature of their arrangement. At all levels, described the arrangement of matter laws of symmetry follow. An example of this are the structures in crystals, which consist of spatially repeating geometric structures. Similar ideas had been set with regard to the structure of matter from the Platonic solids Plato.

In cosmology, there is reason to believe that there is still another form of matter, the dark matter. The hypothesis exists even about ten times more dark matter than the usual, which is called the demarcation and baryonic matter. Dark Matter is distinguished only by their mass, but is not directly visible because it does not emit electromagnetic radiation or absorbed.