Monday, February 21, 2011

What does naturalism exclude?

What makes a philosophy naturalistic, or even physicalistic? We are inclined to think that traditional Christian theism is supernaturalist view, but what makes something supernatural? Unlike C. S. Lewis, I want my naturalist opponents to tell me what their naturalism excludes. Otherwise, I'm just going to argue that my Christian world-view is just a liberal form of naturalism. 

The characteristics of the physical that interest me are the absence of certain critical elements from the basic level of physics: intentionality or aboutness, normativity, subjectivity or perspectivality, and purpose. Would you consider something to be naturalistic  if the fundamental-level explanation for its activity were, say, teleological? If something is purposive at the basic level of analysis, could it be naturalistic in any meaningful sense. If yes, then what do we have to include in our explanation in order for us to say "OK, if that's in the basic-level explanation, it's not naturalistic anymore."

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I want my naturalist opponents to tell me what their naturalism excludes. Otherwise, I'm just going to argue that my Christian world-view is just a liberal form of naturalism."

LOL

B-)

Jason Pratt said...

Next up at Triablogue: "Victor Reppert admits to being a liberal naturalist!"

Jason Pratt said...

Joking aside, I understand naturalism to be a branch of philosophies which claim that one and only one substantial level of reality exists.

A naturalistic philosophy could be either atheistic (typical for Western cultures) or theistic (typical for Eastern cultures).

A naturalism could be either physicalistic or non-physicalistic, depending on whether or to what extent the behaviors of the reality are constituted by regular automatic operations which can be expressed as general laws of behavior.

A naturalism could be either materialistic or non-materialistic, depending on whether the evident bits of which the reality consists (in modern times we would include energy as material for this purpose) are supposed to be real or only illusory.


I think this covers a lot of bases, and leaves room for various types of supernaturalism, too (not only one kind, namely theistic). Also, the subcategories mentioned above wouldn't necessarily be exclusive to one another.

So for example if there was one and only one substantial level of reality, the (apparent) basic behaviors of which were both mental (insofar as anything could be foundationally mental) and operating automatically according to regular laws, but which behaviors were also ultimately illusory, then that would be a physicalistic, non-materialistic naturalistic theism.

In other words that example would be a pantheism common to many varieties of Buddhism. But if someone agreed with most of that but went on to challenge the claim of ultimate mentality (perhaps on the basis of implications of other positions), they would be shifting to a physicalistic, non-materialistic naturalistic atheism--which is in fact the route some Buddhists go instead.

An atheist who, on the other hand, believed in one and only one substantial level of reality, and that the behaviors of this level are real (not ultimately illusory), but are ultimately chaotic, would be a materialist, a non-physicalist, and a naturalist, as well as an atheist.

(In the field, of course, there is a lot of equivalence between claims of materialism, physicalism, and naturalism, as well as any or all of these with atheism. I'm not trying to deny that, only trying to categorize things more usefully. This is how I might go about such categorization as a thoughtful atheist trying to respect and identify variances of belief, among atheists and theists alike.)

JRP

Crude said...

A fantastic post, Victor.

Anonymous said...

Naturalism excludes the existence of an immaterial creator of all else that exists. If there is such a being, then naturalism is false.

You're welcome.

Crude said...

So, mormonism, pantheism, panentheism, pagan pantheons, immaterial souls, ghosts, witches... all naturalistic.

Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Saying that x is necessary for y does not commit one to saying that x is sufficient for y. Basic logical mistake, Crude.

Victor Reppert said...

So, what is meant by immaterial. You presuppose that the concept of matter is clearly understood. That's one of the concepts I would like to see well defined.

Crude said...

Not a logic mistake, pal. I'm pointing out what thin gruel your 'then naturalism is false' offering was.

And Victor's right - he threw in "physicalistic" right in the OP.

Jason Pratt said...

Crude: {{So, mormonism, pantheism, panentheism, pagan pantheons, immaterial souls, ghosts, witches... all naturalistic.}}

Yes (aside from variants of Mormonism that involve cosmological tri-theism rather than gods evolving up within our natural system; or possibly variants of Mormonism where the gods originally developed in a system supernatural to our own and then created ours, in which case they're talking about a supernaturalistic atheism or else not yet about the real "God").

Yes (one and only one substantial level of reality, the evident system of Nature, is fundamentally mental instead of non-mental: naturalistic theism instead of naturalistic atheism.)

Maybe (depending on what the distinction is supposed to be between pantheism and panentheism: an immanently present God could still be supernaturalistic, and I (along with most Jews and Christians) would argue that a supernaturalistic God could only also be immanent as well as transcendent to creation. But other supernaturalistic theists, such as nominal deists and maybe most Muslims, would deny God's immanence against God's substantial transcendence.)

Maybe (depending on whether the foundational system for the pagan pantheon, and for everything else in reality, is substantially no different from the pagan pantheon. If Nature is fundamentally Kaos, and if all things including the pagan pantheon come from Kaos, then that would be philosophical naturalism, as well as naturalistic atheism probably, in the rigorous sense I'm proposing.)

Maybe (depending on whether the one and only existent system allows for--or at least is proposed to allow for--the real existence of non-material entities. We may not think non-reductive materialists, for example, are coherently naturalistic, but they usually think they are.)

Maybe (there are several systems of worldview where ghosts are naturally occurring phenomenon comprised of what is effectively natural material, even if those worldviews acknowledge the existence of an ultimately supervening substantial level of reality. But if the former is posited, the latter could be just as easily posited the other way around: one and only one system, which manifests ghosts.)

Maybe (again, it depends on what the witch is supposed to be actually manipulating. If it's a power arising from the natural system, which is often proposed to be the case, then the overall worldview could be naturalistic instead of supernaturalistic, though the latter wouldn't necessarily be excluded.)

JRP

Doctor Logic said...

Talking about physicality get's us nowhere (see Hempel's Dilemma):

On the other hand, if we say that some future, 'ideal' physics is what is meant, then the claim is rather empty, for we have no idea of what this means. The 'ideal' physics may even come to define what we think of as mental as part of the physical world. In effect, physicalism by this second account becomes the circular claim that all phenomena are explicable in terms of physics because physics properly defined is whatever explains all phenomena.

It's much better to talk in terms of reducibility. The pertinent issue is this: what is reduction?

Reduction means that some recognizable entity or phenomenon, X, can be explained (predicted) in terms of the actions of some statistically lawful Y.

There's nothing in this definition that restricts X or Y to being physical (whatever that means).

I see nothing wrong with God being explanatory in some situations. For example, if people are reliably struck by lightning after committing blasphemy (say 80% of the time, within 3 hours), that would make God perfectly natural and explanatory. The physical world (or elements of it) could reduce to the actions of God's personality.

Doctor Logic said...

Victor's claim is that mental effects do not reduce to non-mental causes. This isn't an inherently non-natural position. It's a non-reductive position.

Jason Pratt said...

As an incidental sidenote, I'm pleased that DocL's concept of physicalism is parallel to what I proposed. It's hard to come up with a distinction between physicalism and materialism (with appropriate nons), considering how often they're used in the field to mean much the same thing, while being as respectful as possible about how the terms have been used in the past.

JRP

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, If you had stuck with noticing how slippery all definitions are, including definitions of "naturalism, supernaturalism, matter, spirit, consciousness, intentionality, reason, logic, God, et al," you might have learned how useless the AFR argument is before you had even formulated it.

Here's some questions for you:

1) Define CONSCIOUSNESS without using other undefined or questionably defined terms. We agree that we all have a personal experience of something that we have agreed to call "consciousness." But scientists today are drawing distinctions between different types of consciousness that lie along a spectrum from unconscious mental events and physical movements (like pulling up the covers to your neck when you're still asleep) to events we say are more "conscious"--and events lying in between those types.

2) Define SUPERNATURALISM without using words that we all employ whenever we depict the world that anyone (with functioning senses) can and does perceive on a daily basis (that includes the world perceived via the use of instruments that magnify the senses, like telescopes and microscopes, instruments that ANYONE with functioning senses can employ to heighten their vision).

In other words, define SUPERNATURALISM without using examples drawn from the NATURAL world.

3) Show us what a SPIRIT is.

4) Define a SPIRIT without using any of the words from the world of universal sense experience that I already outlined in question 1).

5) Show us where a person's SPIRIT is when they are unconscious or asleep.

6) Prove to us whether or not a SPIRIT "sleeps." (Bonus question, prove whether or not frozen human zygotes have "frozen spirits.")

Edward T. Babinski said...

CONTINUED
7) Tell us what SUPERNATURALISM EXCLUDES.

If SUPERNATURALISM excludes nothing, then in what manner would a "supernaturalist" even BEGIN to investigate a report of some unusual local sighting or other circumstance, including scenes of gods and monsters carved on Egyptian pillars or the walls of Babylon, or any other ancient tale, medieval tale, involving highly unusual weird things you don't hear about everyday, or any odd tale at all from then till now.

How does a SUPERNATURALIST even BEGIN to investigate such stories? One could reason one's way to some sort of acceptance of ALL of them if one is a UNIVERSAL SUPERNATURALIST, unhindered by any particular religious dogma or creed or sectarian teaching.

8) You complained in an email to me that I had not dealt with "definitions" in my post on "Prior Prejudices and The Argument from Reason": http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/01/prior-prejudices-and-argument-from.html

As if you ever truly dealt with definitions yourself or grasped the points I have made for years now regarding the slipperiness and fuzzy outlines of definitions.

IN CONCLUSION. . .

IF... there are other forms of matter or energy lying beyond the wide and universally recognized electro-magnetic spectrum (and beyond the periodic table of the elements), then isn't it the job of the supernaturalist to demonstrate their existence in a convincing fashion?

And if the supernaturalist admits that demonstrations of the existence of such things depends on being exactly in the right place at the right time and around the right people, or having the right spiritual guide or whatever, then isn't everybody at the mercy of non-universally recognized events? And wouldn't any intelligent God admit that everyone's "supernatural" experiences during their brief stay on this planet is extremely limited, and hence such a God would not be likely to expect everyone to believe in only one religion? In fact such a God might even expect some people to be agnostics and/or atheists. And who, rationally speaking, could blame them?

IPSO FACTO, all supernatural religions and creeds that preach "damnation" remain questionable.

It also appear like the main goal of religious apologetics is to try and keep people believing things they had previously been raised to believe, or believe things they converted toward believing during their less than intellectually stellar teen years. (See the statistical data concerning Evangelical Christian converts: http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2010/09/stick-to-issues-debate-them-forcefully.html

Victor Reppert said...

Ed: I have a set of definitions of what a naturalistic world-view should exclude; at least what is naturalistic in the sense that I want to attack. So something that accepts as real something that doesn't supervene on the "natural" or "physical" would be supernatural in the sense that I am interested in using. But some people say that I'm attacking a straw man in so doing, so I just want to ask someone who wants to be a naturalist but doesn't like my definitions and exclusion, what constraints they would impose.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Doctor Logic: "Victor's claim is that mental effects do not reduce to non-mental causes. This isn't an inherently non-natural position. It's a non-reductive position."

Exactly the point that Christian brain-mind monists point out, and it illustrates the failure of the AFR quite succinctly.

Neither is there any philosophical proof that something may not come from or "emerge" from something else.

For instance, the minerals in a rock are the same as in Watson (the "Jepordy playing" computer,) but the atoms are of different proportions and arrangements in each item. The same may be said when one compares the atoms of a rock with those of a human being.

The atoms in a liver are the same as the atoms in the brain or the fingernails for that matter, but they function differently in each case.

Individual atoms are also colorless and tasteless and without sound so far as the ability of macro-sized human eyes, ears and tongues are able to detect. Neither can we "feel" an individual atom with our fingertips.

But put enough atoms together a certain way and properties appear that the brain-mind and sensory organ apparatus register.

Philosophy does not know how any of this happens. How or why properties "appear."

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, You didn't answer my questions concerning definitions, especially of "supernaturalism," nor even how a supernaturalist would even BEGIN to investigate something.

By what process of investigation would a supernaturalist even begin to eliminate a possible answer to such questions as "why the sky is blue?"

As a program for asking questions supernaturalism has proven it sucks.

Supernaturalism isn't even good at arriving at universally recognized answers -- not even in the "supernatural" realm.

Note the way this fellow put it, in a poem:

Paradox by Clarence R. Wylie Jr.

Not truth, nor certainty. These I forswore

In my novitiate, as young men called

To holy orders must abjure the world.

'If...,then...,' this only I assert;

And my successes are but pretty chains

Linking twin doubts, for it is vain to ask

If what I postulate be justified,

Or what I prove possess the stamp of fact.

Yet bridges stand, and men no longer crawl

In two dimension. And such triumphs stem

In no small measure from the power this game,

Played with the thrice-attentuated shades

Of things, has over their originals.

How frail the wand, but how profound the spell!

Edward T. Babinski said...

Faith my "move mountains"

But doubt is what gets you an education.

Victor Reppert said...

A supernaturalist would investigate something, but could permit mentalistic explanations to be basic explanations. There would be no ban on skyhooks. In fact, supernatural objects could conceivably be investigated in a scientific manner. Science already permits the positing of unobservables, and a supernatural being is just one more type of unobservable. In fact, theoretically, we could develop a complete set of laws of supernature, to go along with laws of nature.

Victor Reppert said...

Theology is the science that seeks to discover the laws of supernature.

Victor Reppert said...

What I have been arguing is that the mental properties of objects do not follow logically from non-mental states, and therefore mental explanations must be basic explanations if science is possible. That's the argument. It is true that there is a fallacy of composition problem, in that the fact that a wall is six feet tall does not mean that the bricks that make up the wall are six feet tall. But six-feet-tall-ness is something we can derive through adding up facts about the basic parts. In the case of reason, however, determinate mental content, which involves intentionality, subjectivity, purpose, and normativity, cannot be added up from basic elements that lack those characteristics entirely.

To say the AFR fails on its own terms would be to say that these mental characteristics can follow in some metaphysically necessary way from nonmental objects in the supervenience base.

You've got another problem, because mental states are governed by logical laws, but physical laws govern physical states. So what happens has to happen in obedience to the laws of physics, or because of the laws of logic, but not both. If it's just matter, it's governed by the laws of matter and it will be rational only when it is lucky enough for the laws of matter and the laws of logic to coincide. But when we reason, we claim that we come to hold beliefs because we are following a logical rule.

Now if you want to redefine what is acceptable in the "material" supervenience base in such a way that it can have mental characteristics, that's fine. But then, you have made a compromise in the direction of panpsychism at the least and theism at the most.

Jason Pratt said...

Vic: {{You've got another problem, because mental states are governed by logical laws, but physical laws govern physical states. So what happens has to happen in obedience to the laws of physics, or because of the laws of logic, but not both.}}

Isn't the situation actually a bit more suggestively odd than that?

Physical states are governed by discoverable physical and logical laws, but logic (per se) is only governed by logical laws, not by physical laws.

Human mental states, though, are governed both by physical and by logical laws, while operating actively (not merely reactively) in conjunction both with physical laws (which human mental states can actively manipulate) and logical laws (which human mental states can actively discover and appeal to, though not manipulate.)

That's a state of affairs that seems commensurate with some types of metaphysic (or maybe only one type with subvariants?) and not others.

JRP

Doctor Logic said...

JRP,

Humans can't change physical laws either.

In fact, when thinking logically, I am free to choose my axioms. By choosing axioms, I can pick the mathematical or imaginary system that interests me, e.g., Euclidean versus non-Euclidean geometry. I can even think about alternative logics.

However, the analogue of axioms in a physical system are the laws of physics themselves, and I don't get to pick those arbitrarily.

Also, the laws of physics have more to do with governance of the mind than do laws of logic. While there are times when I will think illogically, there is never a time when the processes in my brain act in violation of the laws of physics.

Jason Pratt said...

Ed, at the end of not sticking even remotely to the topic of the thread (namely the definition of naturalism by people sympathetic to naturalism): {{See the statistical data concerning Evangelical Christian converts at [Ed’s blog] “stick-to-issues-debate-them-forcefully.html”}}

Did anyone else find this highly amusing? {g}

Also, as usual you’re conveniently forgetting who you’re talking to, Ed, in order to preach on your soapbox (and apparently to justify yourself at every conceivable opportunity). There’s no point talking at Victor as though he doesn’t already agree that gnosticism (even if it’s Christian) is false, and as if he doesn’t already expect God not to blame at least some atheists and agnostics for being atheistic or agnostic. He’s a Christian inclusivist, remember?

Take your own advice and stick to the thread topic. If you have trouble defining naturalism usefully, and think naturalism is too slippery to be defined usefully, then talk about why you think naturalism is too slippery as a concept to be defined usefully even by naturalists who believe they have some idea of what they mean by being naturalists. Or talk about various attempts in the thread to usefully define naturalism including what it might or might not exclude, and how those attempts are too slippery to be useful.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

DL: {{Humans can't change physical laws either.}}

That's true (so far as I know?); but the introduction of effects into the natural system beyond what the system would have automatically produced is a definite qualitative superiority to physical law.

{{In fact, when thinking logically, I am free to choose my axioms.}}

True (and I use the example of non-Euclidean geometry myself when talking about axioms at the beginning of my own chapters on the AfR); but we aren't free to choose what is valid or not in using those axioms. And there may be (I would say definitely are!) some axioms we are not practically free to choose or deny.

Furthermore, I have found in practice that attempts to consider alternative notions of validity (assuming that's what you mean by "alternative logics", not alternate axioms) either break down under examination or else depend on standard logic. So even where alternate logics work, they don't work without depending first on standard notions of validity.

DL: {{While there are times when I will think illogically, there is never a time when the processes in my brain act in violation of the laws of physics.}}

Depends on what is meant by "violation", though. I don't "violate" the laws of accounting (speaking as an accountant, and borrowing an example from Lewis) when I do accounting, but neither does the accounting system (much less the laws of accounting) produce the results of accounting. Adding to the system is not necessarily a violation of the system, but neither is such addition explicable as a result of system operations.

But now we are getting into Argument from Reason territory, and we should probably stick to the topic of the thread. If philosophical naturalism is true, would it also be true that we cannot in fact contribute effects to the system other than what the system of itself is producing? (That seems true to me, although I know non-reductive materialists would say otherwise in accounting for human mentality.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Note: Victor appears to be following up the topic on distinctions between being governed by logic and governed by physics, in this thread on what it means to be persuaded by argument.

I recommend moving that side of this discussion there, and saving this thread for defining naturalism and the question of what is excluded by doing so.

JRP

Tom Clark said...

Vic,

“In fact, supernatural objects could conceivably be investigated in a scientific manner. Science already permits the positing of unobservables, and a supernatural being is just one more type of unobservable. In fact, theoretically, we could develop a complete set of laws of supernature, to go along with laws of nature.”

Consistent with this, I’d suggest that metaphysical naturalism is an empirically plausible but defeasible conjecture, see http://www.naturalism.org/Close_encounters.htm Naturalists generally don't exclude anything a priori from their ontology (such as something irreducibly mental or teleological), they just want good publicly available evidence for it - the empirical constraint on knowledge. Any posited unobservable has to have good theoretical, explanatory warrant that’s ultimately constrained by observation, without which nearly anything goes.

It isn't inconceivable that evidence could accumulate that the world is divided up between what's natural and what's supernatural, according to some set of criteria consistent with and motivated by our best philo-scientific thinking. We discover laws of supernature, laws of nature, and perhaps explanations of how the supernatural dominates the natural. So maybe naturalists should concede that their basic metaphysical claim, that only nature exists, is potentially falsifiable.

However, if this came to pass it would be the case that our best, most empirically sound overarching conception of reality would encompass *both* sorts of phenomena and their relationship. But isn’t the idea of a single reality encompassed in our understanding, however disparate or weird the phenomena it contains, pretty much what we mean by nature?

If so, perhaps the only way the supernatural could survive is if something about the world escapes our understanding in some fundamental respect. It has to remain inscrutable in its nature and operations. Seems to me that's a good characterization of the supposedly non-composite mentality that anti-naturalists often claim exists (e.g., the rational conscious mind): we can't ever understand its intentionality or subjectivity in terms of non-mental phenomena. But whether we can or not seems to me an open, empirical question. Having built Big Blue and Watson, we can’t rule out the possibility that the human mind might come to understand itself, and more generally mentality as a natural kind, in terms of physically realized algorithms that don’t transcend physical laws.

Doctor Logic said...

JRP:

That's true (so far as I know?); but the introduction of effects into the natural system beyond what the system would have automatically produced is a definite qualitative superiority to physical law.

But no such thing exists, or you would have produced evidence of such a thing. It seems to me that this claim begs the question.

Furthermore, I have found in practice that attempts to consider alternative notions of validity (assuming that's what you mean by "alternative logics", not alternate axioms) either break down under examination or else depend on standard logic. So even where alternate logics work, they don't work without depending first on standard notions of validity.

They must rely upon some statement of non-contradiction. But physics respects non-contradiction, too.

If philosophical naturalism is true, would it also be true that we cannot in fact contribute effects to the system other than what the system of itself is producing?

Correct. And I don't see this as a problem. If my self is a part of the overall system, then my self can be said to affect the external world (i.e., a different part of the system) without contradiction. A robot can affect its environment, and there's no contradiction in that. Your assumption, which I mentioned in my first para above is that humans alter the world in a way that goes beyond physics, but that's your conclusion. It can't be used as part of an argument that minds are not physical machines or their processes and functions.

Victor Reppert said...

Tom, if Christian theism were true, but God, angels, souls, heaven, and hell were all somehow nevertheless part of nature, it wouldn't bother me one bit. In fact, I think that is the case, and science, if it gets to work on things long enough, will discover that it is the case.

Tom Clark said...

Vic, it seems you believe you have good grounds outside science for the claim that God, etc. are part of nature. Curious about what those grounds are.

Victor Reppert said...

I believe that ultimate causes must are in the last analysis mental. But I believe that everything is open to investigation. If we investigate scientifically and we discover that the most reasonable conclusion is, for example, that God finely tuned the universe for intelligent life, then you are in some sense making God part of nature. So what.

Of course when I run my argument, I assume naturalism requires something more than just investigatability.

GREV said...

This whole discussion seems to have been ended too soon.

Fascinating! Thanks to all for their contributions.

GREV said...

In his chapter entitled "Knowledge and Naturalism, in Naturalism: A Critical Analysis, Dallas Willard writes:

“In this chapter I will try to explain why narrower Naturalism or unqualified Physicalism cannot find a place for knowledge, and specifically for three of its essential components: truth, logical relations and noetic unity. At this late date it is hard to say much that will be strictly new on these matters, but, apparently, there is much that needs to be said again. What I shall say about truth and logic is practically identical with what Frege said more than a century ago, though I hold views significantly different from him on how truth and logic fit into the full context of knowing and knowledge. What I shall say about noetic unity adds little to what has already been said by Kant, Lotze and Husserl.” PP. 24-25.

So to answer the question what does naturalism exclude one must define what naturalism are we talking about? I am safe to assume that the narrow one is the most popular. Yes?

But it seems to put an interesting twist on things. That a narrower naturalism cannot find a place for Knowledge.

GREV said...

Must leave this alone for noww ... but hopefully something else tomorrow.

GREV said...

Here is a nice summary on the topic of naturalism and pointers to other reading for the interested person:

"1. What might be called "generic Naturalism" has a long history that includes: Classical Naturalism,
with figures such as Democritus, Epicurus, Aristotle and Lucretius; Renaissance Naturalism, with
Bruno, Campanella and Telesio, and--born too late--Spinoza; Empiricist/Nominalist Naturalism,
with Hobbes, Hume, D'Holbach and most of the French Encyclopedists and Comte; 19th-Century
Materialistic Naturalism, with Jakob Moleschott, Karl Vogt, Ernst Haeckel, Ludwig Büchner,
Herbert Spencer and, it is often presumed, Charles Darwin; Mid-20th-Century (largely anti-
Materialistic) Naturalism, with Santayana, Dewey and others; and Late-20th-Century ("Identity
Thesis") Naturalism, which wavers between Scientism and Physicalism, with Quine, David
Armstrong, Paul and Patricia Churchland, John Searle, etc.
To appreciate contemporary Naturalism for what it is, and the logical nuances that surround it, one
has to see it in this long historical context. The single unifying theme of all Naturalisms is antitranscendentalism.
Their steady point of reference is the visible world and whatever it contains,
which is "Nature" in extension. Nothing "outside" it is to be allowed. This visible world is held to be
self-existent, self-explanatory, self-operating and self directing. Usually though not always it is
thought to consist entirely of processes involving only blind force. But what "Nature" is in intension
has never been agreed upon among Naturalists. Some look very much like Pantheists, and yet others
(Santyana, Dewey) reach very far to incorporate "the divine" and all that is humanly unique into
"Nature." (See, currently, the divergence between Searle and, e.g., Paul Churchland or Daniel
Dennett on the nature of the the mental.) Thus "self" in "self-existent" etc. only has the negative
meaning of "non-other," i.e., not in virtue of something separate from this thing called "Nature."

GREV said...

Effective entry into the long story for use by a contemporary thinker can be gained by starting with
the article by James Ward, "Naturalism," in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 10th edition, vol XXXI, p.
88, and then going on to his Naturalism and Agnosticism, (London: A & C Black, Limited, 1915). W.
R. Sorley's The Ethics of Naturalism (London; William Blackwood and Sons, 1904), especially pp.
17-21, is also helpful in understanding how Naturalism has tried to distance itself from Materialistic
Naturalism of Vogt, Haeckel, Büchner, etc. A series of articles on Naturalism in The Journal of
Philosophy from 1945 through 1949, easily identifiable by their titles, was evoked by the appearance
of Naturalism and the Human Spirit, [Yervant H. Krikorian, ed., (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1944)] and by A. E. Murphey's excellent critical review of it in that Journal [42 (1945): 400-
417]. The outcome of the mid-20th Century discussion is nicely summarized by Arthur Danto's
article, "Naturalism," in Paul Edwards, ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 5 (New York:
Macmillan Publishing Co., 1967), pp. 448-430. One of the intriguing aspects of the current situation
is how Materialism, which was thought to be dead or something to be avoided for the first half of the
20th Century, came to life again in association with the "identity thesis" of mind and body and a new
Scientism, and led to a reformulation and resurgence of Naturalism at the end of the 20th Century.
Reading Danto's fine article you would never have thought it possible.
For broader, cultural bearings of Naturalism, see Paul F. Boller, Jr., American Thought in Transition:
The Impact of Evolutionary Naturalism, 1865-1900, (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1969),
and John Ryder, ed., American Philosophic Naturalism in the Twentieth Century, (Amherst, NY:
Prometheus Books, 1994).

Both Sections From Naturalism and Knowledge by Dallas Willard

GREV said...

I find this an interesting sentence in trying to answer What does naturalism exclude --

"But what "Nature" is in intension
has never been agreed upon among Naturalists."

So as a methodological framework naturalism suffers from it seems an agreed framework other then antitranscendentalism.


If -- Naturalism -- is just an umbrella to gather anti-theists then why should it be afforded any greater degree of respectability as a way to approach the practice of science?

When the theist likewise holds that the practice of science is the investigation of the visible world.

Jason Pratt said...

DL: {{But no such thing exists, or you would have produced evidence of such a thing. It seems to me that this claim begs the question.}}

This is because I wasn't trying to argue here that such a thing exists. I was commenting on a reply to an aside I wrote to Victor.

As to whether evidence of such a thing existing was at least suggested in the prior comments, eh. I don't treat you as being a robot, and I would not bother to argue metaphysics (or anything else) with an entity that only automatically reacted to environmental stimuli. If you do more than only react automatically to environmental stimuli, then you yourself are my evidence--as I have argued before in the past, including very extensively in the chapters subsequent to the link I provided.

But as I said, this thread was supposed to be about what naturalism (per se) excludes by definition, and what could be sympathetically agreed to along that line; thus I didn't go into detail on Argument from Reason issues.

(I realize the thread has moved on, but I thought I ought to reply for sake of any future readers if Victor redates it someday.)

JRP