Is materialism innate or cultural?

That is, is “mine” and the idea of personal property an innate human trait, or is it a cultural conditioning that people could be raised to not have? I tend to believe the former; but of course being raised in a materialistic culture, I would wouldn’t I? :stuck_out_tongue:

Isn’t possessiveness found in some non-human animals as well?

I vote “Innate”

Sure as shooting. I had a dog once that would freak out if you took his collar off. That was his and no one elses. Give him a new one and he wouldn’t accept it.

Try to take a fresh kill away from any animal. The concept of ‘mine’ is pretty ingrained. Even in social animals that ‘share’, they clearly do so only within their small social group and will defend what’s ‘theirs’ against outsiders.

I personally think this is a very good thing. The recognition of the right to property is absolutely fundamental to human freedom, because if nothing is yours, then you are always subject to the whims of the larger group and whoever manages to control it. Attempts to create a society without personal property always end in misery once you get past the tribal level.

I’d go with innate, especially if you extend ‘mine’ to ‘me and my small family hunter gatherer group’. Even if you don’t want to do that qualification I think the concept of ‘mine’ is pretty well ingrained, since even hunter gatherer groups have individual possessions.

Any “ism” is a dogma and as such is learned.
An instinct may be otherwise.

I don’t think “materialism” was the best word choice for what the OP wanted to ask about, since the word has several meanings that aren’t what the OP had in mind.

Yes, without getting bound up in semantics, the desire to accumulate “wealth” - be it food, weapons, blankets or purty rocks - has an innate basis.

You won’t find it in hunter-gatherer societies; they accumulate no more than they can carry.

Pretty much agreeing with the general consensus here – innate, yes, though “materialism” may not be the best word. Property, and the possessiveness and protection thereof, would seem to be innate traits related to survival.

That said, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard anecdotal accounts where children raised in a culture of complete sharing could be weaned of those traits, so there’s certainly a learned or cultural component. And there are certainly individuals to whom material property is much more important than it is to others, so there’s a personality component, too. And it’s not always materialism in the sense of monetary value, sometimes it’s objects as memory, as a personal or historic proxy for the past. Or as things of beauty independent of intrinsic value. There are many reasons to value “things” that aren’t strictly materialism.

Practical limit to the urge. The minute they stop roaming, they begin accumulating.

The Gods must be crazy!

Not true. There is evidence going all the way back to Neanderthals that there was not just private property, but an actual economy based around the manufacture of tools. Neantherthals owned personal tool kits. Futhermore, plenty of hunter-gatherer societies included ‘grave goods’ in burials such as tools, jewelry or other personal items, which certainly indicates the acceptance of the concept that those things belonged to the person and not the group.

It’s true by definition that hunter-gatherers can only accumulate what they can carry with them. That doesn’t mean they didn’t build ‘wealth’ - it just means they defined it differently. Instead of quantity, they would focus on quality - intricate carvings on knife handles, beautiful headdresses that would have represented hundreds of hours of labor and therefore been very valuable as property, etc. That’s one reason why prosperous hunter-gatherers had so much ornamentation - it was the only way to build wealth without accumulating more stuff.

Well, I suspect that possessiveness is innate. But possessiveness can be express itself either as “mine” or as “ours”, and I suspect the balance between those two is cultural, not innate.