Metaphysical naturalism (also called ontological naturalism, philosophical naturalism, scientific materialism and antisupernaturalism) is a philosophical worldview which holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences. Methodological naturalism is a philosophical basis for science, for which metaphysical naturalism provides only one possible ontological foundation. Broadly, the corresponding theological perspective is religious naturalism or spiritual naturalism. More specifically, metaphysical naturalism rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.
According to Steven Schafersman, geologist and president of Texas Citizens for Science, metaphysical naturalism is a philosophy that maintains that: 1. Nature encompasses all that exists throughout space and time; 2. Nature (the universe or cosmos) consists only of natural elements, that is, of spatiotemporal physical substance—mass–energy. Non-physical or quasi-physical substance, such as information, ideas, values, logic, mathematics, intellect, and other emergent phenomena, either supervene upon the physical or can be reduced to a physical account; 3. Nature operates by the laws of physics and in principle, can be explained and understood by science and philosophy; and 4. the supernatural does not exist, i.e., only nature is real. Naturalism is therefore a metaphysical philosophy opposed primarily by Biblical creationism.
According to Arthur C. Danto, naturalism, in recent usage, is a species of philosophical monism according to which whatever exists or happens is natural in the sense of being susceptible to explanation through methods which, although paradigmatically exemplified in the natural sciences, are continuous from domain to domain of objects and events. Hence, naturalism is polemically defined as repudiating the view that there exists or could exist any entities which lie, in principle, beyond the scope of scientific explanation.
Regarding the vagueness of the general term "naturalism," David Papineau traces the current usage to philosophers in early 20th century America such as John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook, and Roy Wood Sellars: "So understood, 'naturalism' is not a particularly informative term as applied to contemporary philosophers. The great majority of contemporary philosophers would happily accept naturalism as just characterized—that is, they would both reject 'supernatural' entities, and allow that science is a possible route (if not necessarily the only one) to important truths about the 'human spirit.'" Papineau remarks that philosophers widely regard naturalism as a "positive" term, and "few active philosophers nowadays are happy to announce themselves as 'non-naturalists,'" while noting that "philosophers concerned with religion tend to be less enthusiastic about 'naturalism'" and that despite an "inevitable" divergence due to its popularity, if more narrowly construed, (to the chagrin of John McDowell, David Chalmers and Jennifer Hornsby, for example), those not so disqualified remain nonetheless content "to set the bar for 'naturalism' higher."
Philosopher and theologian Alvin Plantinga, a well-known critic of naturalism in general, comments: "Naturalism is presumably not a religion. In one very important respect, however, it resembles religion: it can be said to perform the cognitive function of a religion. There is that range of deep human questions to which a religion typically provides an answer ... Like a typical religion, naturalism gives a set of answers to these and similar questions".
Metaphysical naturalism is an approach to metaphysics or ontology, which deals with existence per se. It should not be confused with methodological naturalism, which sees empiricism as the basis for the scientific method.
Regarding science and evolution, Eugenie C. Scott, a notable opponent of teaching creationism or intelligent design in US public schools, stresses the importance of separating metaphysical from methodological naturalism:
If it is important for Americans to learn about science and evolution, decoupling the two forms of naturalism is essential strategy. ... I suggest that scientists can defuse some of the opposition to evolution by first recognizing that the vast majority of Americans are believers, and that most Americans want to retain their faith. It is demonstrable that individuals can retain religious beliefs and still accept evolution as science. Scientists should avoid confusing the methodological naturalism of science with metaphysical naturalism.— Eugenie C. Scott, "Creationism, Ideology, and Science"
Metaphysical naturalism is the philosophical basis of science as described by Kate and Vitaly (2000) "There are certain philosophical assumptions made at the base of the scientific method — namely, 1) that reality is objective and consistent, 2) that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that 3) rational explanations exist for elements of the real world. These assumptions are the basis of naturalism, the philosophy on which science is grounded. Philosophy is at least implicitly at the core of every decision we make or position we take, it is obvious that correct philosophy is a necessity for scientific inquiry to take place." Steven Schafersman, agrees that methodological naturalism is "the adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it ... science is not metaphysical and does not depend on the ultimate truth of any metaphysics for its success, but methodological naturalism must be adopted as a strategy or working hypothesis for science to succeed. We may therefore be agnostic about the ultimate truth of naturalism, but must nevertheless adopt it and investigate nature as if nature is all that there is."
Contrary to other notable opponents of teaching Creationism or Intelligent Design in US public schools such as Eugenie Scott, Schafersman asserts that "while science as a process only requires methodological naturalism, I think that the assumption of methodological naturalism by scientists and others logically and morally entails ontological naturalism". as well as the similarly controversial assertion: "I maintain that the practice or adoption of methodological naturalism entails a logical and moral belief in ontological naturalism, so they are not logically decoupled." On the other hand, Scott argues:
that a clear distinction must be drawn between science as a way of knowing about the natural world and science as a foundation for philosophical views. One should be taught to our children in school, and the other can optionally be taught to our children at home. Once this view is explained, I have found far more support than disagreement among my university colleagues. Even someone who may disagree with my logic or understanding of philosophy of science often understands the strategic reasons for separating methodological from philosophical materialism—if we want more Americans to understand evolution.— Eugenie C. Scott, Science and Religion, Methodology and Humanism
However, there are other controversies, Arthur Newell Strahler embeds peculiar anthropic distinctions in the name of naturalism: "The naturalistic view is that the particular universe we observe came into existence and has operated through all time and in all its parts without the impetus or guidance of any supernatural agency. The naturalistic view is espoused by science as its fundamental assumption." Variously known as background independence, the cosmological principle, the principle of universality, the principle of uniformity, or uniformitarianism, there are important philosophical assumptions that cannot be derived from nature. As noted by Stephen Jay Gould: "You cannot go to a rocky outcrop and observe either the constancy of nature's laws or the working of unknown processes. It works the other way around. You first assume these propositions and "then you go to the out crop of rock." "The assumption of spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws is by no means unique to geology since it amounts to a warrant for inductive inference which, as Bacon showed nearly four hundred years ago, is the basic mode of reasoning in empirical science. Without assuming this spatial and temporal invariance, we have no basis for extrapolating from the known to the unknown and, therefore, no way of reaching general conclusions from a finite number of observations. (Since the assumption is itself vindicated by induction, it can in no way "prove" the validity of induction—an endeavor virtually abandoned after Hume demonstrated its futility two centuries ago)." Gould also notes that natural processes such as Lyell's "uniformity of process" are an assumption: "As such, it is another a priori assumption shared by all scientists and not a statement about the empirical world." Such assumptions across time and space are needed for scientists to extrapolate into the unobservable past, according to G.G. Simpson: "Uniformity is an unprovable postulate justified, or indeed required, on two grounds. First, nothing in our incomplete but extensive knowledge of history disagrees with it. Second, only with this postulate is a rational interpretation of history possible, and we are justified in seeking—as scientists we must seek—such a rational interpretation." and according to R. Hooykaas: "The principle of uniformity is not a law, not a rule established after comparison of facts, but a principle, preceding the observation of facts ... It is the logical principle of parsimony of causes and of economy of scientific notions. By explaining past changes by analogy with present phenomena, a limit is set to conjecture, for there is only one way in which two things are equal, but there are an infinity of ways in which they could be supposed different."
Metaphysical naturalists argue that the scientific facts and theories that we have to explain the origins of the universe, prior to the Big Bang, provide no evidence for supernatural beings or deities.
According to metaphysical naturalism, if nature is all there is, just as natural cosmological processes lead to the Big Bang and there were once no planets or life, the formation of the Solar System and abiogenesis arose spontaneously from natural causes. Naturalists reason about how, not if evolution happened. They maintain that humanity's existence is not by intelligent design but rather a natural process of emergence. With the protoplanetary disk creating planetary bodies, including the Sun and moon, conditions for life to arise billions of years ago, along with the natural formation of plate tectonics, the atmosphere, land masses, and the origin of oceans would also contribute to the kickstarting of biological evolution to occur after the arrival of the earliest organisms.
Some embrace virtue ethics and many see no compelling argument against ethical naturalism. Alexander Rosenberg has expressed the position that naturalists, in general, have to accept moral nihilism.
Metaphysical naturalists do not believe in a soul or spirit, nor in ghosts, and when explaining what constitutes the mind they rarely appeal to substance dualism. If one's mind, or rather one's identity and existence as a person, is entirely the product of natural processes, three conclusions follow according to W.T. Stace. First, all mental contents (such as ideas, theories, emotions, moral and personal values, or aesthetic response) exist solely as computational constructions of one's brain and genetics, not as things that exist independently of these. Second, damage to the brain (regardless of how) should be of great concern. Third, death or destruction of one's brain cannot be survived, which is to say, all humans are mortal. Stace, however, believes that ecstatic mysticism calls into question the assumption that awareness is impossible without data processing.
Metaphysical naturalists hold that reason is the refinement and improvement of naturally evolved faculties. The certitude of deductive logic remains unexplained by this essentially probabilistic view. Nevertheless, naturalists believe anyone who wishes to have more beliefs that are true than are false should seek to perfect and consistently employ their reason in testing and forming beliefs. Empirical methods (especially those of proven use in the sciences) are unsurpassed for discovering the facts of reality, while methods of pure reason alone can securely discover logical errors.
Naturalism was the foundation of two (Vaisheshika, Nyaya) of the six orthodox schools and one (Carvaka) heterodox school of Hinduism. The Carvaka, Nyaya, Vaisheshika schools originated in the 7th, 6th, and 2nd century BCE, respectively.
Western metaphysical naturalism originated in ancient Greek philosophy. The earliest pre-Socratic philosophers, especially the Milesians (Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes) and the atomists (Leucippus and Democritus), were labeled by their peers and successors "the physikoi" (from the Greek φυσικός or physikos, meaning "natural philosopher," borrowing on the word φύσις or physis, meaning "nature") because they investigated natural causes, often excluding any role for gods in the creation or operation of the world. This eventually led to fully developed systems such as Epicureanism, which sought to explain everything that exists as the product of atoms falling and swerving in a void.
Plato's world of eternal and unchanging Forms, imperfectly represented in matter by a divine Artisan, contrasts sharply with the various mechanistic Weltanschauungen, of which atomism was, by the fourth century at least, the most prominent… This debate was to persist throughout the ancient world. Atomistic mechanism got a shot in the arm from Epicurus… while the Stoics adopted a divine teleology… The choice seems simple: either show how a structured, regular world could arise out of undirected processes, or inject intelligence into the system. This was how Aristotle… when still a young acolyte of Plato, saw matters. Cicero… preserves Aristotle's own cave-image: if troglodytes were brought on a sudden into the upper world, they would immediately suppose it to have been intelligently arranged. But Aristotle grew to abandon this view; although he believes in a divine being, the Prime Mover is not the efficient cause of action in the Universe, and plays no part in constructing or arranging it... But, although he rejects the divine Artificer, Aristotle does not resort to a pure mechanism of random forces. Instead he seeks to find a middle way between the two positions, one which relies heavily on the notion of Nature, or phusis.
With the rise and dominance of Christianity in the West and the later spread of Islam, metaphysical naturalism was generally abandoned by intellectuals. Thus, there is little evidence for it in medieval philosophy. The reintroduction of Aristotle's empirical epistemology as well as previously lost treatises by Greco-Roman natural philosophers which was begun by the medieval Scholastics without resulting in any noticeable increase in commitment to naturalism.
It was not until the early modern era of philosophy and the Age of Enlightenment that naturalists like Benedict Spinoza (who put forward a theory of psychophysical parallelism), David Hume, and the proponents of French materialism (notably Denis Diderot, Julien La Mettrie, and Baron d'Holbach) started to emerge again in the 17th and 18th centuries. In this period, some metaphysical naturalists adhered to a distinct doctrine, materialism, which became the dominant category of metaphysical naturalism widely defended until the end of the 19th century.
Immanuel Kant rejected (reductionist) materialist positions in metaphysics, but he was not hostile to naturalism. His transcendental philosophy is considered to be a form of liberal naturalism.
In late modern philosophy, Naturphilosophie, a form of natural philosophy, was developed by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as an attempt to comprehend nature in its totality and to outline its general theoretical structure.
A politicized version of naturalism that has arisen after Hegel was Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's dialectical materialism, especially Engels's dialectical philosophy of nature (Dialectics of Nature).
In the early 20th century, matter was found to be a form of energy and therefore not fundamental as materialists had assumed. (See History of physics.) In contemporary philosophy, renewed attention to the problem of universals, philosophy of mathematics, the development of mathematical logic, and the post-positivist revival of metaphysics and the philosophy of religion, initially by way of Wittgensteinian linguistic philosophy, further called the naturalistic paradigm into question. Developments such as these, along with those within science and the philosophy of science brought new advancements and revisions of naturalistic doctrines by naturalistic philosophers into metaphysics, ethics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, epistemology, etc., the products of which include physicalism and eliminative materialism, supervenience, causal theories of reference, anomalous monism, naturalized epistemology (e.g. reliabilism), internalism and externalism, ethical naturalism, and property dualism, for example.
The current usage of the term naturalism "derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed 'naturalists' from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars."
Currently, metaphysical naturalism is more widely embraced than in previous centuries, especially but not exclusively in the natural sciences and the Anglo-American, analytic philosophical communities. While the vast majority of the population of the world remains firmly committed to non-naturalistic worldviews, prominent contemporary defenders of naturalism and/or naturalistic theses and doctrines today include J. J. C. Smart, David Malet Armstrong, David Papineau, Paul Kurtz, Brian Leiter, Daniel Dennett, Michael Devitt, Fred Dretske, Paul and Patricia Churchland, Mario Bunge, Jonathan Schaffer, Hilary Kornblith, Quentin Smith, Paul Draper and Michael Martin, among many other academic philosophers.
According to David Papineau, contemporary naturalism is a consequence of the build-up of scientific evidence during the twentieth century for the "causal closure of the physical", the doctrine that all physical effects can be accounted for by physical causes.
By the middle of the twentieth century, the acceptance of the causal closure of the physical realm led to even stronger naturalist views. The causal closure thesis implies that any mental and biological causes must themselves be physically constituted, if they are to produce physical effects. It thus gives rise to a particularly strong form of ontological naturalism, namely the physicalist doctrine that any state that has physical effects must itself be physical.
From the 1950s onwards, philosophers began to formulate arguments for ontological physicalism. Some of these arguments appealed explicitly to the causal closure of the physical realm (Feigl 1958, Oppenheim and Putnam 1958). In other cases, the reliance on causal closure lay below the surface. However, it is not hard to see that even in these latter cases the causal closure thesis played a crucial role.— David Papineau, "Naturalism" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
According to Steven Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science, an advocacy group opposing creationism in public schools, the progressive adoption of methodological naturalism—and later of metaphysical naturalism—followed the advances of science and the increase of its explanatory power. These advances also caused the diffusion of positions associated with metaphysical naturalism, such as existentialism.
Several Metaphysical Naturalists have used the trends in scientific discoveries about minds to argue that no supernatural minds exist. For instance, Internet Infidels co-founder Jeffery Jay Lowder says, "Since all known mental activity has a physical basis, there are probably no disembodied minds. But God is conceived of as a disembodied mind. Therefore, God probably does not exist." Lowder argues the correlation between mind and brain implies that supernatural souls do not exist because the theist position, according to Lowder, is that the mind depends upon this soul instead of the brain.
[Elegance] goes directly to the question of how the laws of nature are constructed. Nobody knows the answer to that. Nobody! It's a perfectly legitimate hypothesis, in my view, to say that some extremely elegant creator made those laws. But I think if you go down that road, you must have the courage to ask the next question, which is: Where did that creator come from? And where did his, her, or its elegance come from? And if you say it was always there, then why not say that the laws of nature were always there and save a step?— Carl Sagan, Conversations with Carl Sagan
Arguments against metaphysical naturalism include the following examples.
Philosophers and scientists such as Victor Reppert, William Hasker, and Alvin Plantinga have developed an argument for dualism dubbed the "argument from reason." They credit C.S. Lewis with first bringing the argument to light in his book Miracles; Lewis called the argument "The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism," which was the title of chapter three of Miracles.
The argument postulates that if, as naturalism entails, all of our thoughts are the effect of a physical cause, then we have no reason for assuming that they are also the consequent of a reasonable ground. However, knowledge is apprehended by reasoning from ground to consequent. Therefore, if naturalism were true, there would be no way of knowing it (or anything else), except by a fluke.
Through this logic, the statement "I have reason to believe naturalism is valid" is inconsistent in the same manner as "I never tell the truth." That is, to conclude its truth would eliminate the grounds from which to reach it. To summarize the argument in the book, Lewis quotes J. B. S. Haldane, who appeals to a similar line of reasoning:
If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true ... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.— J. B. S. Haldane, Possible Worlds, page 209
In his essay "Is Theology Poetry?," Lewis himself summarises the argument in a similar fashion when he writes:
If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees.— C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, page 139
But Lewis later agreed with Elizabeth Anscombe's response to his Miracles argument. She showed that an argument could be valid and ground-consequent even if its propositions were generated via physical cause and effect by non-rational factors. Similar to Anscombe, Richard Carrier and John Beversluis have written extensive objections to the argument from reason on the untenability of its first postulate.
Notre Dame philosophy professor Alvin Plantinga argues, in his evolutionary argument against naturalism, that the probability that evolution has produced humans with reliable true beliefs, is low or inscrutable, unless their evolution was guided, for example, by God. According to David Kahan of the University of Glasgow, in order to understand how beliefs are warranted, a justification must be found in the context of supernatural theism, as in Plantinga's epistemology. (See also supernormal stimuli).
Plantinga argues that together, naturalism and evolution provide an insurmountable "defeater for the belief that our cognitive faculties are reliable", i.e., a skeptical argument along the lines of Descartes' evil demon or brain in a vat.
Take philosophical naturalism to be the belief that there aren't any supernatural entities—no such person as God, for example, but also no other supernatural entities, and nothing at all like God. My claim was that naturalism and contemporary evolutionary theory are at serious odds with one another—and this despite the fact that the latter is ordinarily thought to be one of the main pillars supporting the edifice of the former. (Of course I am not attacking the theory of evolution, or anything in that neighborhood; I am instead attacking the conjunction of naturalism with the view that human beings have evolved in that way. I see no similar problems with the conjunction of theism and the idea that human beings have evolved in the way contemporary evolutionary science suggests.) More particularly, I argued that the conjunction of naturalism with the belief that we human beings have evolved in conformity with current evolutionary doctrine... is in a certain interesting way self-defeating or self-referentially incoherent.— Alvin Plantinga, "Introduction" in Naturalism Defeated?: Essays on Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism
Edward Feser, in his 2008 book The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, lays a plenary case against naturalism by re-examining pre-Modern philosophy. Beginning in the second chapter, Feser cites the Platonic and Aristotelian answers to the problem of universals—that is, realism. Feser also offers arguments against nominalism. And by defending realism and rejecting nominalism, he rejects eliminative materialism—and thus naturalism.
In the third chapter, Feser summarizes three of Thomas Aquinas's arguments for the existence of God. These include arguments for an unmoved mover, first, uncaused cause  and (supernatural) supreme intelligence, concluding that these must exist not as a matter of probability—as in the intelligent design view, particularly of irreducible complexity—but as a necessary consequence of "obvious, though empirical, starting points".
Certainly most philosophical naturalists today are materialists[...]
It thus gives rise to a particularly strong form of ontological naturalism, namely the physicalist doctrine that any state that has physical effects must itself be physical.
Naturalism did not exist as a philosophy before the nineteenth century, but only as an occasionally adopted and non-rigorous method among natural philosophers. It is a unique philosophy in that it is not ancient or prior to science, and that it developed largely due to the influence of science.
Naturalism is almost unique in that it would not exist as a philosophy without the prior existence of science. It shares this status, in my view, with the philosophy of existentialism.
...I do indeed think that evolution functions as a contemporary shibboleth by which to distinguish the ignorant fundamentalist goats from the informed and scientifically literate sheep.
According to Richard Dawkins, 'It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that).' Daniel Dennett goes Dawkins one (or two) further: 'Anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant—inexcusably ignorant.' You wake up in the middle of the night; you think, can that whole Darwinian story really be true? Wham! You are inexcusably ignorant.
I do think that evolution has become a modern idol of the tribe. But of course it doesn't even begin to follow that I think the scientific theory of evolution is false. And I don't.
The argument from reason is an argument against metaphysical naturalism and for the existence of God (or at least a supernatural being that is the source of human reason). The best-known defender of the argument is C. S. Lewis. Lewis first defended the argument at length in his 1947 book, Miracles: A Preliminary Study. In the second edition of Miracles (1960), Lewis substantially revised and expanded the argument.
Contemporary defenders of the argument from reason include Alvin Plantinga, Victor Reppert and William Harker.Fallacy of composition
The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). For example: "This tire is made of rubber, therefore the vehicle to which it is a part is also made of rubber." This is fallacious, because vehicles are made with a variety of parts, many of which may not be made of rubber.
This fallacy is often confused with the fallacy of hasty generalization, in which an unwarranted inference is made from a statement about a sample to a statement about the population from which it is drawn.
The fallacy of composition is the converse of the fallacy of division; it may be contrasted with the case of emergence, where the whole possesses properties not present in the parts.French materialism
French materialism is the name given to a handful of French 18th-century philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment, many of them clustered around the salon of Baron d'Holbach. Although there are important differences between them, all of them were materialists who believed that the world was made up of a single substance, matter, the motions and properties of which could be used to explain all phenomena.
Prominent French materialists of the 18th century include:
Julien Offray de La Mettrie
Claude Adrien Helvétius
Jacques-André NaigeonIndex of metaphysics articles
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates principles of reality transcending those of any particular science. Cosmology and ontology are traditional branches of metaphysics. It is concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. Someone who studies metaphysics can be called either a "metaphysician" or a "metaphysicist".Internet Infidels
Internet Infidels, Inc. is a Colorado Springs, Colorado-based nonprofit educational organization founded in 1995 by Jeffery Jay Lowder and Brett Lemoine. Its mission is to use the Internet to promote a view that supernatural forces or entities do not exist (metaphysical naturalism). Internet Infidels maintains a website of educational resources about agnosticism, atheism, freethought, humanism, secularism, and other nontheistic viewpoints particularly relevant to nonbelievers and skeptics of the paranormal. Relevant resources include rebuttals to arguments made by religious apologists and theistic philosophers, transcripts of debates between believers and nonbelievers, and responses from opponents of a naturalistic worldview. The site has been referred to by one of its critics, Christian apologist Gary Habermas, as "one of the Internet's main Web sites for skeptics" and by skeptical physicist Taner Edis as "a major Web site serving nonbelievers". Its tagline is "a drop of reason in a pool of confusion".Ionian School (philosophy)
The Ionian school of Pre-Socratic philosophy was centred in Miletus, Ionia in the 6th century BC. Miletus and its environs was a thriving mercantile melting pot of current ideas of the time. The Ionian School included such thinkers as Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, and Archelaus. The collective affinity of this group was first acknowledged by Aristotle who called them physiologoi (φυσιολόγοι), meaning 'those who discoursed on nature'. The classification can be traced to the second-century historian of philosophy Sotion. They are sometimes referred to as cosmologists, since they were largely physicalists who tried to explain the nature of matter.
While some of these scholars are included in the Milesian school of philosophy, others are more difficult to categorize.
Most cosmologists thought that, although matter could change from one form to another, all matter had something in common which did not change. They did not agree on what all things had in common, and did not experiment to find out, but used abstract reasoning rather than religion or mythology to explain themselves, thus becoming the first philosophers in the Western tradition.
Later philosophers widened their studies to include other areas of thought. The Eleatic school, for example, also studied epistemology, or how people come to know what exists. But the Ionians were the first group of philosophers that we know of, and so remain historically important.Karl Joel (philosopher)
Karl Joel (27 March 1864 – 23 July 1934) was a German philosopher and professor.
Joel was born in Hirschberg, Silesia, and died in Walenstadt, Switzerland. His father was a rabbi who studied under Schelling. Joel was a professor at the University of Basel from 1902.
His father R. Herman Joel, had been a pupil of Schelling and apparently had a great influence on his son's attitude toward philosophy. He was born in Hirschberg, studied in Leipzig, and spent some time in Berlin (1887–92), where he became a friend of Georg *Simmel. In 1897 he was appointed to the University of Basle, where he taught until his death. Joel called his philosophical system "New Idealism." He defended the completeness of philosophy against the attempts to divide it up into "specialized" branches and compartments, and he emphasized the necessity of a comprehensive outlook. He opposed methodological positivism and metaphysical naturalism and sought to ridicule those who claimed "objectivity" in the study of reality, that is, spiritual activity deprived of all subjective and emotional ingredients. One of his famous quotes is, "I lie on the seashore, the sparkling flood blue-shimmering in my dreamy eyes; light breezes flutter in the distance; the thud of the waves, charging and breaking over in foam, beats thrillingly and drowsily upon the shore---or upon the ear? I cannot tell. The far and the near become blurred into one; outside and inside merge into one another. Nearer and nearer, friendlier, like a homecoming, sounds the thud of the waves; now, like a thundering pulse, they beat in my head, now they beat over my soul, wrapping it round, consuming it, while at the same time my soul floats out of me as a blue waste of waters. Outside and inside are one. The whole symphony of sensations fades away into one tone, all senses become one sense, which is one with feeling; the world expires in the soul and the soul dissolves in the world."Liberal naturalism
Liberal naturalism is a heterodox form of metaphysical naturalism that lies in the conceptual space between scientific (or reductive) naturalism and supernaturalism. It allows that one can respect the explanations and results of the successful sciences without supposing that the sciences are our only resource for understanding humanity and our dealings with the world and each other.
The term was introduced in 2004 by Mario De Caro & David Macarthur and, independently, by Gregg Rosenberg. This form of naturalism has been ascribed to Immanuel Kant.Michael Tooley
Michael Tooley is an American philosopher. He has a BA from the University of Toronto and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton University in 1968. He taught at Stanford University and the Australian National University and since 1992 has taught at the University of Colorado Boulder.Tooley has worked on philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, causality and metaphysical naturalism, and has debated the existence of God with William Lane Craig. His paper "Abortion and Infanticide" has been controversial.Milesian school
The Milesian school () was a school of thought founded in the 6th century BC. The ideas associated with it are exemplified by three philosophers from the Ionian town of Miletus, on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor: Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. They introduced new opinions contrary to the prevailing belief of how the world was organized, in which natural phenomena were explained solely by the will of anthropomorphized gods. The Milesians conceived of nature in terms of methodologically observable entities, and as such was one of the first truly scientific philosophies.
The Milesian school is not synonymous with the Ionian, which includes the philosophies of the Milesians plus distinctly different Ionian thinkers such as Heraclitus. The Ionian School contains the three philosophers that form the Milesian School as well as a few more who were added on during the 5th Century, but the Ionian School looked more into the thought behind everything while the Milesian School was more focused on nature.Naturalism (philosophy)
In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world." Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws."Naturalism can intuitively be separated into an ontological and a methodological component," argues David Papineau. "Ontological" refers to the philosophical study of the nature of being. Some philosophers equate naturalism with materialism. For example, philosopher Paul Kurtz argues that nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles. These principles include mass, energy, and other physical and chemical properties accepted by the scientific community. Further, this sense of naturalism holds that spirits, deities, and ghosts are not real and that there is no "purpose" in nature. Such an absolute belief in naturalism is commonly referred to as metaphysical naturalism.Assuming naturalism in working methods as the current paradigm, without the further consideration of naturalism as an absolute truth with philosophical entailment, is called methodological naturalism. The subject matter here is a philosophy of acquiring knowledge based on an assumed paradigm.
With the exception of pantheists—who believe that Nature is identical with divinity while not recognizing a distinct personal anthropomorphic god—theists challenge the idea that nature contains all of reality. According to some theists, natural laws may be viewed as so-called secondary causes of God(s).
In the 20th century, Willard Van Orman Quine, George Santayana, and other philosophers argued that the success of naturalism in science meant that scientific methods should also be used in philosophy. Science and philosophy are said to form a continuum, according to this view.Naturism (disambiguation)
Naturism, sometimes called Nudism, is a cultural and political movement advocating social nudity in private and public spaces, and also a lifestyle of living in harmony with nature and others as expressed through social nudity.
Naturism can also be used to refer to:
Naturalism (philosophy), which holds that the scientific method is the only effective means of investigating reality
Metaphysical naturalism, any worldview where the world may be studied through the natural sciences and where the supernatural does not exist
Nature worship, religious, spiritual and devotional practices that focus on natural phenomenon
Naturopathy, a form of alternative medicineIt is not to be confused with Naturalism (literature), a literary movement in the late 19th centuryPhysical universe
In religion and esotericism, the term "physical universe" or "material universe" is used to distinguish the physical matter of the universe from a proposed spiritual or supernatural essence.
In the Book of Veles, and perhaps in traditional Slavic mythology, the physical universe is referred to as Yav. Gnosticism holds that the physical universe was created by a Demiurge. In Dharmic religions Maya is believed to be the illusion of a physical universe.
Physicalism, a type of monism, holds that only physical things exist. This is also known as metaphysical naturalism.Psychophysical parallelism
In the philosophy of mind, psychophysical parallelism (or simply parallelism) is the theory that mental and bodily events are perfectly coordinated, without any causal interaction between them. As such, it affirms the correlation of mental and bodily events (since it accepts that when a mental event occurs, a corresponding physical effect occurs as well), but denies a direct cause and effect relation between mind and body. This coordination of mental and bodily events has been postulated to occur either in advance (as per Gottfried Leibniz's idea of pre-established harmony) or at the time of the event (as in the occasionalism of Nicolas Malebranche). On this view, mental and bodily phenomena are independent but yet inseparable, like two sides of a coin.Richard Carrier
Richard Cevantis Carrier (born December 1, 1969) is an American historian, atheist activist, author, public speaker and blogger.
Carrier has a doctorate in ancient history from Columbia University where his thesis was on the history of science in antiquity. He originally gained prominence as an advocate of atheism and metaphysical naturalism, authoring many articles on The Secular Web and later defending his basic position in his book Sense and Goodness Without God.
His blog appeared on Freethought Blogs and he has frequently been a featured speaker at various skeptic, secular humanist, freethought and atheist conventions, such as the annual Freethought Festival in Madison, Wisconsin, the annual Skepticon convention in Springfield, Missouri and conventions sponsored by American Atheists. In 2016, his blog on the Freethought Blogs network was suspended amid sexual assault allegations.Carrier has frequently debated with Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and David Marshall both in person and online. The Craig debate was broadcast on Lee Strobel's television show Faith Under Fire.His recent books arguing against the historicity of Jesus have established him as a leading supporter of the fringe Christ myth theory, which claims that neither the historical Jesus nor the biblical Jesus existed. Carrier asserts that in the context of his Bayesian methodology, the ahistoricity of Jesus and his origin as a mythical deity are "true" (i.e. the "most probable" Bayesian conclusion), arguing that the probability of Jesus' existence is somewhere in the range of 1/3 to 1/12000, depending on the estimates used for the computation. Nearly all contemporary scholars of ancient history and biblical scholarship have maintained that a historical Jesus did indeed exist.The Way the World Is
The Way the World Is: Christian Perspective of a Scientist is a book first published in 1983 by the John Polkinghorne, who was a Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.
It is a short volume which was written in response to the surprise of a number of working scientists when Polkinghorne quit academic research in 1979 to train for ordination in the Church of England. He subsequently returned to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, as Dean in 1986, and later as the President of Queens' College, Cambridge.
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