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The Causal Connection Between Naturalism and Metaphysics

The Causal Connection Between Naturalism and Metaphysics

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Published by Curtis Edward Clark
...there anything in Fuller's definition to exclude the acceptance of mind on the metaphysical plane, and there is everything in it to support it.

Ayn Rand's explanation also describes metaphysics in Naturalism.
...there anything in Fuller's definition to exclude the acceptance of mind on the metaphysical plane, and there is everything in it to support it.

Ayn Rand's explanation also describes metaphysics in Naturalism.

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Published by: Curtis Edward Clark on Aug 20, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Causal Connection Between Naturalism and MetaphysicsThe more I learn about the secular philosophical science of Naturalism, the moreastounded I am by the variations in its description, by the kinds of denunciationsof it that come from theists, the misrepresentations of it by those theists intheir criticisms--though the misrepresentations may be honestly madepropositions--and by the lack of cohesiveness among the ranks of Naturalists todescribe or even to defend their own scientific bearings.All of this is leading to a breakdown of our civilization, because science in allits forms, including the value judgments of metaphysics as a science, and theepistemology by which we reach or deny such metaphysical judgements, is theunderpinning of the way a civilization conducts itself--and metaphysical valuejudgments are definitely being denied, by some Naturalists and by some of thegeneral population, regular people who rely on what science and philosophy tellsthem, for their assessment of their identity and their place in the world in whichthey live."Different contemporary philosophers interpret ‘naturalism’ differently. Thisdisagreement about usage is no accident. For better or worse, ‘naturalism’ iswidely viewed as a positive term in philosophical circles—few active philosophersnowadays are happy to announce themselves as ‘non-naturalists’.[1] This inevitablyleads to a divergence in understanding the requirements of ‘naturalism’. Thosephilosophers with relatively weak naturalist commitments are inclined tounderstand ‘naturalism’ in a unrestrictive way, in order not to disqualifythemselves as ‘naturalists’, while those who uphold stronger naturalist doctrinesare happy to set the bar for ‘naturalism’ higher.[2]" [italics added] Stanford.eduhttp://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/index.html#note-1Philosophers who "are happy to announce themselves as ‘non-naturalists’" aretheists, which in and of itself is not problematic for the science of philosophy(nor for the philosophy of science,) nor for that matter for those Naturalists whoknow how and when to defend their science. Most of the important philosophers inWestern history--with Augustine standing out predominately in the early lead--havebeen theologists. But vying to replace naturalism is the field of theisticphilosophy called "theistic realism.""Phillip Johnson, one of the founders of the intelligent design movement, hasproposed an alternative form of reasoning to that used by modern scientists. Herefers to his form of reasoning as "theistic realism", while the alternative couldbe called "empirical naturalism". Allen MacNeillhttp://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2008/07/phillip-johnson-theistic-realism.htmlIt is no wonder that "Different [ ] philosophers interpret ‘naturalism’differently." The traditional philosophic science of Naturalism, which would seemto carry the connotation of "scientific" when compared to anything containingtheism, cannot even be called "scientific naturalism" without carefulconsideration. That term has been usurped, it seems by "theistic realists", whoprefer to call plain, old, traditional and objective Naturalism by the prefix of"scientific" so that they can berate Naturalism, when the mood strikes them, overthe issue of the matter/spirit dualism."Just what is scientific naturalism (hereafter, naturalism)? Succinctly put, it isthe view that the spatio-temporal universe established by scientific forms ofinvestigation is all there is, was, or ever will be. Brains and buffaloes exist(for instance), but minds and moral values must not, because they are invisible tothe five senses and therefore invisible to scientific enquiry." [italics added] J.P. Moreland http://www.boundless.org/features/a0000872.html
But this is where the theists want to put Naturalists: right smack in the positionof appearing to deny that a soul can reside within the human infrastructure ofmind and body. Some Naturalists do deny it. Not all do. It is as unfair to put allNaturalists into this stereotype as it is to call all believers in Christ by thestereotype of "right-wing born-again evangelicals." The defense of this senselessattack on the matter of dualism is plain to see when it can as easily be said that"the five senses" are "invisible and therefore invisible to scientific enquiry."But we go on investigating the senses all the same.Just as the senses can be felt within the body, so can the conscience and the souland all emotions be felt within the body; but they, too, are "invisible." I knowof no Naturalist who would deny the appearance of a conscience or of emotionswithin the consciousness of the mind. It is, however, plain to see that someNaturalists appeal to the chemical/electrical actions of the body in determiningthe nature of thought and of emotion and mind.This, however, appears to be reactionary, an attempt to distance themselves fromany connection however tenuous to knowledge that emotions have rationalattachments to metaphysical values. Naturalism that denies the mind is more thanchemical/electrical reactions that can be predicted by causes also deny much, ifany, importance to metaphysics. Such reactions of denial are not mainstream elsethis would not be the extremist position. We would be the extremists, we who donot deny the mind is more than simply biology acting naturally. Of course, that isprecisely what the mind is, but not to the denial of free will in thedetermination of what goes on in the mind.These who oppose anything but empirical causal relationships in human emotions,deny metaphysics any importance in human thoughts and ideals, where suchmetaphysical values are accepted by mainstream Naturalists and theists alike asthe very cause of the emotions these reactionaries are trying to determine asmerely empirically caused.And yet, what is sometimes called "theistic realism" is also called "CreationScience," an oxymoron if ever there was one. Impartial, "empirical" naturalism issometimes called "Representational Naturalism" by theists. (It would seem that anyline of thought, any "label" they can come up with to split the field ofNaturalism within its own ranks, is within their arsenal of tools with which todestroy Naturalism.)"The representational naturalist holds that knowledge and intentionality areentirely natural phenomena, explicable in terms of causal relations between brainstates and the represented conditions. [ ] Since knowledge is a form of success,this relation must involve a form of reliability, an objective tendency forbeliefs formed in similar ways to represent the world accurately. [ ] Knowledgecould then be identified with true beliefs formed by processes whose properfunctions are fulfilled in normal circumstances." [italics added] Robert C. Koonshttp://www.leaderu.com/orgs/arn/koons/rk_incompatibilitynatreal.htm (In fairness,it does not appear that Koons himself is a theist realist.)But in Koon's own words, "at present, our best scientific picture of the world isan essentially materialistic one, with no reference to causal agencies other thanthose that can be located within space and time." In other words, the mind, itsthoughts, our emotions and our conscience and our soul and even our consciousnessare outside the purview of science because they are "invisible" empirical science.Such "true beliefs" come in two varieties: justified and unjustified, or"informed" and "uninfomed," according to Quentin Smith.http://freeassemblage.blogspot.com/2008/08/loss-of-secularism-in-naturalism-part-
2.htmlKoons, however, does not appear to be a theist, nor does he appear to be"uninformed." He argues that Naturalism and Scientific Realism are incompatible.He makes a case that "even though we have no reason to think that the origin ofour aesthetic attunement to the structure of the universe is mysteriously prior toexperience, there remains the fact that experience has attuned us to something,and this something runs throughout the most fundamental laws of nature. Behind theblurrin' and buzzin' confusion of data, we have discovered a consistent aestheticbehind the various fundamental laws."But the most comprehensive definition of "naturalism" to my way of thinking waswritten by B.A.G. Fuller http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~hou00985http://www.enotes.com/classical-medieval-criticism/parmenides/b-g-fuller-essay-date-1923?print=1 and published in D.D.Rune's "Dictionary of Philosophy" in 1942.To my way of thinking, Fuller's assessment contains this aesthetic. I have neverdoubted that it was contained within, and it helped lead me to the aestheticdeduction that is the thesis of my book, "The Single Intelligible Object." Fullerdescribes the aesthetics of the "SIO" this way:"Naturalism, challenging the cogency of the cosmological, teleological, and moralarguments, holds that the universe requires no supernatural cause and government,but is self-existent, self-explanatory, self-operating, and self-directing, thatthe world-process is not teleological and anthropocentric, but purposeless,deterministic (except for possible tychistic events), and only incidentallyproductive of man; that human life, physical, mental, moral and spiritual, is anordinary natural event attributable in all respects to the ordinary operations ofnature; and that man's ethical values, compulsions, activities, and restraints canbe justified on natural grounds, without recourse to supernatural sanctions, andhis highest good pursued and attained under natural conditions, withoutexpectation of a supernatural destiny." http://www.ditext.com/runes/n.htmlTo my way of thinking, there is no equivocation about the meaning of classical,Atomistic, secular, impartial and "empirical" science of Naturalism, neitherepistemic equivocation nor metaphysical; nor as a basis for investigating allother sciences, because it acts with the awareness that proof of God might turn upand become part of the evidence discovered in the impartial search for truth. (Itdoes not have a single solitary belief in the whole wide world that such proof ofGod would ever turn up, and it is not the Naturalist's job to go looking for it;but if found, it would not be denied.) "Theistic realism," or "Creation science"begins with the presumption that God exists, and goes looking for every piece ofevidence that is left open to question, so that it can argue that since theevidence does not overwhelmingly disprove God's existence, it must be allowed tobe argued that God's presence is a given "because everything in nature necessarilyneeds a creation."It is one thing to have a justified belief that everything in existence must havehad a creation, though Fuller's and Rand's explanations deny any such creation. Itis entirely another matter to begin from the reference that God as creator is thegiven and then go looking for evidence of that position using "an alternative formof reasoning." A "scientific" epistemology that begins with the assumption ofsupernaturalism is flawed from its very basis, but that does not make a justifiedbelieve in God flawed. I understand perfectly how rational men can believe in God.I cannot find the justification for it in my own life; as a matter of fact, I findthe opposite justification.But a science that begins with the assumption of supernaturalism by using "analternative form of reasoning" is introducing pure theology into a secular

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