By George Novack
The ideas of the materialist scholars and scientists have been among the greatest motive forces of ideological and scientific progress. They have inspired epoch-making achievements in natural science from the broaching of the atomic hypothesis by the Greeks to Darwin's theory of organic evolution. Yet the materialist thinkers and their adherents have, almost always and everywhere been in a minority, the oppressed tendency in the field of philosophy. Materialism has been disfavored by conservative master classes because it is the principal theoretical weapon, against supernaturalism, spiritualism, and obscurantism of all kinds. Today it is vehemently fought because of its association with the socialist movement and Marxism, with the struggles of the workers for liberation from capitalism, with political opposition to the established order.
George Novack's study is one of the few accounts in English that digs down to the roots of the materialist outlook in Graeco-Roman civilization. Besides providing a fascinating view of the contributions of the Greeks to human progress, this book is invaluable in understanding the prolonged and unfinished contest for supremacy between materialism and anti-materialism, science and religion, enlightenment and obscurantism.