Philosophical Naturalism? Who you?
Metaphysical naturalism, also called philosophical naturalism, is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences, meaning those required to understand our physical environment by mathematical modeling.
Metaphysical naturalism holds that all properties related to consciousness and the mind are reducible to, or supervene upon, nature. More specifically, metaphysical naturalism rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.
Many contemporary thinkers adopt a naturalist view of the mental realm because they are fully persuaded that we will be unable otherwise to explain how mental processes can causally influence non-mental processes, how the nonphysical can affect the physical, how the mental and spiritual supernatural realm can affect the material natural world (or if it can actually have any effect on it in any way).
|Many professional, academic and scientific careers, and reputations, have been made and destroyed solely on the basis of an acceptance or rejection of these principles and precepts, as a kind of litmus test of intellectual integrity and professional competence imposed by the philosophical and scientific communities (see ostracize).|
Two categories of Philosophical Naturalism
There are different varieties of Metaphysical Naturalism, but they are usually separated into two general categories:
Physicalism (or Materialism)
The belief that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties, and that the only existing substance is physical. Thus, everything that has ever been observed is in actual fact the product of fundamentally mindless arrangements or interactions of matter-energy in space-time, and it is unreasonable to believe anything else exists.
|Naturalism is inconsistent with any kind of Theism and is compatible with Atheism. The direct opposite of Naturalism is Supernaturalism, which accepts the existence of such things as supernatural beings, magical objects, Platonic forms or the existence (for example) of love, or of evil, as a cosmic force.|
In science, the assuming of naturalism as a valid approach in working methods, without necessarily considering naturalism as an absolute truth with philosophical entailments, is called methodological naturalism. Thus, in contrast to metaphysical naturalism, methodological naturalism refers exclusively to the methodology of science, for which metaphysical naturalism provides only one possible ontological foundation. Compare Agnosticism.
A modern prejudice drawn from philosophical naturalism holds that "if it's not scientific, it's not a fact, and has no reality; and if it's not a part of nature, it doesn't exist". This belief is held by many ordinary persons who with simple unquestioning faith believe in the reliability of the scientific method as the sole means of establishing truth. They dismiss all supernatural interventions in human history, and the possibility of divine revelation and miracles, by categorizing these phenomena as having only a psychological genesis (wishful thinking). And from this assumption all reports of them, as being phenomena directly caused by supernatural agency, are represented as being ipso facto (by that very fact alone) solely a record of the product of ignorance and primitive thinking, misinterpretations of natural phenomena, superstition and delusion,
"which any rational person of intelligence can safely dismiss as entirely unreliable nonsense, since all the available empirical evidence acceptable to legitimate and impartial researchers proves scientifically beyond any reasonable doubt that the supernatural cannot possibly exist.