Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Can process philosophy rescue naturalism?


The old naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism,” is now being jostled by a “new naturalism,” described in a new book, Theses on Critical Theory and Contemporary Naturalism by Wayne Hudson and Arran Gare (eds.). The publisher blurbs it thus:

The culture of modernity has been characterized by at least two competing conceptions of humans, one going back to Hobbes that strives to comprehend humans from a mechanistic perspective, and one inspired by Renaissance humanism, Vico, and Herder that sees humans as creating themselves through their history.

The first view has decisively shaped Anglo-Saxon economics but is now partially undermined by developments in physics and biology going beyond the mechanistic view of nature, notably, non-linear thermodynamics and quantum field theory. Related developments, now revolutionizing biology, provide support for a conception of humans as essentially social beings formed by, and able to reform, their cultures and their contexts. This conception of humans underpins institutionalist economics according to which humans are not self-contained egoists but behave according to the institutions in which they are situated, institutions that have evolved through history and which they are capable of transforming.

The new naturalism will be neither reductionist nor positivist. It will not be a form of scientism but should be informed by the philosophies of freedom developed by Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel and by aspects of the work of C. S. Peirce and A. N. Whitehead. This naturalism will exclude the dualisms of cultural supernaturalism and carry forward the ideals of the European Enlightenment. It will emphasize the need for a thorough critique of historical forms of religion, but it will not be hostile to post-secular perspectives on human spiritual evolution. Indeed, in the longer term it may have to consider the horizon of a global philosophical religion of the kind envisaged by the German philosopher Schelling: a philosophical religion transcending the parochialism and divisiveness of the particular religions and proving forms of ethical orientation for future sentient life.”

Hat tip: Nancy Pearcey, author of Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. She says the authors think we need more “process philosophy” (think Hegel and Schelling) to address the problems.

The old naturalism faces one really big end-stage problem: Naturalizing consciousness means eliminating the idea that it provides accurate representations of facts as opposed to being a mere adaptation for survival. That’s deadly to science.

It’s not clear that woo-woo—that no one really believes based on experience but was rather manufactured for the purpose—can long function as a solution.

View from the UD News coffee room: As process theology empties churches, process philosophy will empty classrooms. Whatever the students do, absent learning, won’t be governed by philosophy. And they won’t care.

See also: Post-modern science: The illusion of consciousness sees through itself

Follow UD News at Twitter!

survival is achieved through forming “accurate representations of facts” about that world.
This is how some Darwinists try to prop up the rickety superstructure of the theory by assuming that which is to be demonstrated. Sev wants us to believe that natural selection always necessarily selects for accurate representations of facts about the world. If Sev really believes this, he does not understand the theory he is shilling for. The theory posits that natural selection selects for traits that increase fitness -- and nothing else. But Barry, surely an accurate representation of facts about the world always increases fitness. Maybe it does in a particular situation. But that is not what Sev is asserting. He is asserting that it necessarily does. And that just is not so, as this paper, as just one example, explains. Eric Baum says, "Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth." Steven Pinker writes, "Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not." Barry Arrington
Naturalizing consciousness means eliminating the idea that it provides accurate representations of facts as opposed to being a mere adaptation for survival. That’s deadly to science.
"Naturalizing consciousness" makes it sound like it goes through an immigration process to get citizenship. Which I suppose could make a sort of sense if we think of consciousness as obtaining 'citizenship' (survival) in the natural world where survival is achieved through forming "accurate representations of facts" about that world. That would be vital for a natural (material) consciousness based in a physical brain in order to survive. An immaterial consciousness would have no such need if it exists regardless of the existence of a physical brain. Seversky

Leave a Reply