In several earlier posts I have made a trial of distinct definitions of naturalism. These posts include:

A Formulation of Naturalism
Two Thoughts on Naturalism
Naturalism: Yet Another Formulation, and
Naturalism and Object Oriented Ontology

I regard all of these formulations of tentative, but there may be something to learn from these tentative formulations if we employ them as a kind of experiment for understanding methodological naturalism. That is to say, each of these attempts to formulate naturalism implies a formulation of methodological naturalism. Furthermore, in so far as methodological naturalism is definitive of contemporary science, each formulation of methodological naturalism implies a distinct conception of science.

In A Formulation of Naturalism I suggested that, “Naturalism is on a par with materialism, and philosophically is to be treated as far as possible like materialism.”

In Two Thoughts on Naturalism I suggested that “Naturalism is on a par with mechanism, and philosophically is to be treated as far as possible like mechanism.” I also suggested that, “Naturalism entails that all ideas will first be manifest in embodied form… there are no abstract ideas that are given to us as abstract ideas; all ideas are ultimately derived from experience.”

In Naturalism: Yet Another Formulation I noted that these earlier efforts at formulations of naturalism are implicitly parsimonious, tending toward conceptual minimalism, and further suggested that, “we can characterize naturalism in terms of a quantitative parsimony, following quantitative formulations as far as they will go, and only appealing to qualitative formulations when quantitative formulations break down.” There is a sense, then, in which we can speak of deflationary naturalism. In so far as these formulations of naturalism embody the principle of parsimony, we need not separately formulate the principle of parsimony as a regulative norm of science.

In Naturalism and Object Oriented Ontology I suggested that an approach to naturalism might be made by way of object oriented ontology, which I there compared to Colin McGinn’s transcendental naturalism thesis, i.e., that the world is “flatly natural” though we are unable to see this for what it is because of our perceptual and cognitive limitations.

While when I first formulated naturalism such that, “Naturalism is on a par with materialism, and philosophically is to be treated as far as possible like materialism,” I intended naturalism as consisting of a more comprehensive scope than materialism, though when applied to the scientific method I see that it can be taken as a doctrine of limiting one’s scope to the problem at hand. This approach to science is as familiar as Newton’s aphorism, Hypotheses non fingo. Science often proceeds by providing a very limited explanation for a very limited range of phenomena. This leaves many explanatory gaps, but the iteration of the scientific method means that subsequent scientists return to the gaps time and again, and when they do so they do so from the perspective of the success of the earlier explanation of surrounding phenomena. Once a species of explanation becomes generally received as valid, the perception of the later extension of this species of explanation (perhaps already considered radical in its initial formulation) becomes more acceptable, and more explanatory power can be derived from the explanation.

Similar considerations to those above hold for the same formulation in terms of mechanism rather than materialism, or in terms of quantification rather than materialism. Initial formulations of mechanism (or quantification) can be crude and seem only to apply to macroscopic features, and is possibly seen as impossibly awkward to explain the fine-grained features of the world. As the mechanistic explanation becomes more refined and flexible, the idea of its application to more delicate matters appears less problematic.

An object-oriented ontological account of naturalism would be the most difficult to formulate and would take us the farthest from methodological concerns and the deepest into ontological concerns, so I will not pursue this at present (as I write this I can feel that my mind is not up to the task at the moment), but I will only mention it here as a viable possibility.

In any case, our formulations of methodological naturalism based on these formulations of naturalism would run something like this:

Methodological materialism pursued as far as possible, leaving any non-material account aside

Methodological mechanism pursued as far as possible, leaving any non-mechanistic account aside

Methodological quantification pursued as far as possible, leaving any qualitative account aside

Methodological flat naturalism, or transcendental naturalism, pursued as fas a possible, leaving any non-flat or non-transcendental account aside

I think that all of these approaches do, in fact, closely describe the methodology of the scientific method, especially as I mentioned above considered from the perspective of the growth of knowledge through the iteration of the scientific method.

The growth of knowledge through the iteration of the scientific method is a formulation of the historicity of scientific knowledge in terms of the future of that knowledge. The formulation of the historicity of scientific knowledge in terms of the past is nothing other than that embodied in the Foucault quote that, “A real science recognizes and accepts its own history without feeling attacked.” (from “Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault”)

All present scientific knowledge will eventually become past scientific knowledge, and it will become past knowledge through the continued pursuit of the scientific method, which is to say, methodological naturalism in some form or another.

The distant future of scientific knowledge, if only we had access to it, would seem as unlikely and as improbable as the distant past of scientific knowledge, but the past, present, and future of scientific knowledge are all connected in a continuum of iterated method.

It is ultimately the task of philosophy of see scientific knowledge whole, and to this end we must see the whole temporal continuum as the expression of science, and not any one, single point on the continuum as definitive of science. The unity of science, then, is the unity of the scientific method that is the connective tissue between these diverse epochs of science, part, present, and future.

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Grand Strategy Annex

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A few days ago in Why the Fermi paradox must be taken seriously I attempted to demonstrate that the technology of any peer civilizations extant in the Milky Way would have singled out the earth as an interesting place to visit and thus would likely have made us the target of alien exploration if advanced peer civilizations existed in the Milky Way.

I neglected to mention that, to a certain extent, this applies even to nearby galaxies, although the farther away the galaxy we reference, the more difficult it would be to obtain the scientific knowledge of the earth at a distance, and the more difficult it would be to travel. But difficulty is not impossibility, and if we contemplate the possibility of very old peer civilizations in the universe, their technology would be so advanced that the difficulties would be reduced.

It is one of my dissatisfactions with most books on astrobiology, exobiology, SETI, and space travel that they implicitly confine their scope to the Milky Way galaxy without explicitly acknowledging this restriction. Of course, the Milky Way galaxy is a very big place, but in the several posts in which I have referenced the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image (which has been called “the most important image you will ever see”), when we consider the universe on a very large scale, galaxies fill the sky like the familiar stars filling our night sky. The Milky Way is a very big place, but the universe is a much bigger place, and we must understand the Milky Way in the context of the universe.

The nearest large galaxy to us (excepting the Magellanic Clouds) is the Andromeda Galaxy, which is an elegant spiral galaxy larger than the Milky Way. In the fullness of time, the Andromeda spiral galaxy and the Milky way galaxy will collide, the supermassive black holes at the center of each galaxy will eventually merge, and a new and even larger galaxy will be born from the collision. But that will be a very long time from now.

In the meantime, the Andromeda galaxy is about two and half million light years from us. That means that any observation of the earth from Andromeda would be two and a half million years old. While this is a long time ago for us, in geologic terms it is not all that long ago. While a peer civilization in the Milky Way would experience a lookback time of not more than 100,000 years, bringing observations to the time of the emergence of homo sapiens, the lookback time from the Andromeda galaxy would bring the observer back to a time when several hominid species were ranging around Africa. This corresponds roughly to the time of the emergence of homo habilis and the beginning of tool use among hominids. While this time scale means a lot to us, the biosphere then and now is almost identical, and to an advanced peer civilization then and now on the earth would look pretty much the same. The earth would still be positively brimming with life and therefore a very interesting place to visit.

Assuming only advanced technology and no exceptions to the laws of physics, a starship launched from the Andromeda galaxy would take at least two and a half million years to arrive, but due to time dilation at relativistic velocities, hardy explorers could make the trip in a single lifetime. Somewhere I read (I can’t recall exactly where) that a starship accelerating at the relatively modest rate of 32 feet per second (which has the added value of providing artificial gravity onboard) would only experience about 24 years of elapsed time on the ship during a voyage between Andromeda and the Milky Way. If we were to combine this sort of feasible travel technology with induced hibernation, it is entirely plausible that a group of explorers could travel between galaxies. And the closer one approximates the speed of light, the greater the time dilation, so for explorers there would be a strong incentive to “push the envelope” as it were.

Again, this involves some very advanced engineering, but it doesn’t violate any known laws of physics, and the technology involved is at least comprehensible to us, even if we aren’t in a position to build it ourselves any time soon.

Now, you might ask why anyone would leave behind their world by two and a half million years in order to go to another galaxy. In the books I have been reading lately I have found that several authors are remarkably sanguine about this, and confidently predict that robotic exploration would be so much more preferable to actual exploration by conscious agents that the latter possibly is simply set aside. For example, I have found this more or less to be the implicit viewpoint of Timothy Ferris in Coming of Age in the Milky Way, of Michio Kaku in The Physics of the Future, and of Paul Davies in The Eerie Silence.

I don’t buy this at all. Just as there are, in our contemporary civilization, many people who enjoy the comforts of home, there are always a few people who climb mountains. And, similarly, when the technology is available, many people will continue to enjoy the comforts of home, but there will always be those who are so driven by the need to explore that they will leave behind home and family and indeed the entire world that they know in order see to what lies beyond the horizon. It is perfectly reasonable to me that a group of explorers might choose to leave behind the Andromeda galaxy merely for the purpose of investigating an interesting planet in the Milky Way. In fact, I might choose to do this myself, were it a viable option.

As we consider galaxies and possible peer civilizations at a further reach, beyond the local group and the local cluster of galaxies, the possibilities of relativistic time dilation continue to make exploration possible on an inter-galactic scale, but it would become much more difficult to find interesting planets at this distance, even with techniques like gravitational lensing. However, as we have seen, difficulty is not the same thing as impossibility.

However, another factor comes into play as we move further away from the Milky Way. While those on board a very fast intergalactic starship (approximating while never achieving the speed of light) would experience very little time, time outside this starship would elapse at the accustomed rate, and that means that the more distant the galaxy, the longer ago in time a ship would have to have been launched.

The problem with this, and the problem with much SETI research, is a failure to engage with the anthropic cosmological principle, which seems to be concerned with human existence, but is equally valid (in its valid forms, that is) for any organic conscious agents that emerge according to the laws of nature and natural selection. The farther away we consider, the further back we go in time, and the further back we go in time, the less the universe has evolved toward its present state. At much earlier states of cosmic evolution the elements requisite for peer life, and most especially for peer industrial-technological civilizations, simply do not exist.

A solar system that could support peer industrial-technological civilization would have to have formed after the heavier elements had been formed inside stars from earlier stellar populations, since the only way you can get elements like iron and uranium from an initial stage of hydrogen is, over the course of galactic evolution, for these elements to be cooked up inside successive generations to stars, and then ejected into the universe by way of supernovas. These elements then go on to form solar systems that include the kind of metals that are required for industrial-technological civilization. This takes many generations of stars. As a result, if you have far enough back in time, you arrive at a time before these generations of stars have elapsed, and therefore the conditions for peer civilizations do not exist.

There is a cosmological window in the natural history of the universe for industrial-technological civilizations to emerge. We cannot yet state with any precision how long this window persists, or when it starts. Almost certainly there could be peer civilizations a million or more years old in the universe, but somewhere there is a limit older than which a civilization in our universe could not be. Thus when SETI researchers confidently speak of civilizations millions years old, I am immediately skeptical. It is not impossible, but the further back in time you go, the less possible it becomes.

It is worthwhile to think about this in more detail, as it also has consequences for the Fermi paradox. If we regard it as a mere matter of chance when an industrial-technological civilization emerges from its organic origins — which, it seems to me, is something we must acknowledge in the spirit of methodological naturalism — then it is just as likely that our civilization just happens to be to first such to emerge in the Milky Way, on perhaps even in the local group of galaxies, as it is that we are not the first. Of course, this is not a function or mere chance — it is chance constrained by the anthropic cosmological principle, as well as chance constrained by natural selection. But this is only a rough formulation. An adequate formulation would take more time and more thought.

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Grand Strategy Annex

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The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence, Paul Davies

Recently in Silent Worlds, Empty Worlds I mentioned that I was listening to Paul Davies’ book The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence, and this is the “eerie silence” to which I refer in the title of this post. Since that earlier post, I’ve listened through Davies’ a couple of times and also consulted the print version.

While listening to Davies’ book it occurred to me that a skeptical SETI argument could be formulated on the basis of the methodological naturalism that is the working presupposition of science — and presumably the presupposition of SETI also, if indeed SETI is a science.

The argument would run like this: the remarkable success of science in describing and explaining the world from the scientific revolution of the early modern period to today is predicated upon methodological naturalism. If this methodological naturalism was an invalid presupposition, then science so predicated would never have been the wildly successful enterprise that it has been. But science has been successful, and methodological naturalism has therefore proved itself.

Given the power of the intelligence to completely transform the environment in which it lives, as human beings have transformed the surface of the earth, an advanced extraterrestrial civilization that had managed to survive in the long term and to propagate itself at least within the confines of its solar system (as we have done to a limited extent) or perhaps also across interstellar distances, it would be the case that such an alien civilization would have transformed the environment throughout the region of space in which its influence held sway.

If any alien intelligence were to make a careful scientific study of our solar system, from the point of view of methodological naturalism certain anomalies would arise that could not be explained by purely naturalistic processes. The more detailed the study, the more anomalies would emerge. If the vast and cool and unsympathetic alien scientist got around to studying the surface of the earth, this scientist would eventually have to conclude that intelligence was at work, because natural processes could not plausibly account for cities, radio communications, and the other manifestations of technological civilization.

Similarly, when our scientists study other regions of the galaxy, methodological naturalism has proved to be a sure guide in understanding what we see. If large regions of space had been transformed under the influence of alien technology, anomalies would emerge in naturalistic explanations, and the more we looked, the more anomalies we would find. In fact, we do not find anomalies that can only be explained by recourse to explanations based upon intelligent intervention.

Michio Kaku wrote in his Physics of the Future how Kurzweil told him that he hoped to see the evidence of the technological singularity in the night sky:

“Kurzweil once told me that when he gazes at the distant stars at night, perhaps one should be able to see some cosmic evidence of the singularity happening in some distant galaxy. With the ability to devour or rearrange whole star systems, there should be come footprint left behind by this rapidly expanding singularity.”

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100, Michio Kaku, 2011, Chapter 2, Future of AI: Rise of the Machines, p. 102

I have been rather critical of Kurzweil in other posts, but in this, he is correct: if anything like the technological singularity took place in the form that its expositors have given to it, we should be able to see portions of the cosmos transformed under the aspect of intelligence — sub specie intellectus.

Since this is precisely what we do not see, this constitutes a further example of what I recently called SETI as a Process of Elimination: as the scope and sophistication of our search for extraterrestrial intelligence increases over time, and we continue to fail to find evidence of the same, in true inductive fashion this does not mean that we have proved that extraterrestrial intelligence and civilization does not exist, but we can exclude it from certain areas that have been searched, and the more we search the more regions of the cosmos can be declared free of peer civilizations. However, a single counter-example would be sufficient to falsify an inductive generalization possessing only a degree of confirmation and not deductive certitude.

In the case of the technological singularity, with its ability to reproduce itself and improve itself with each generation, thus issuing in escalating and even exponential growth, the “footprint” of obvious intelligent order wherever a technological singularity has emerged in the universe ought to be prominent and rapidly growing. We can say of intelligent machines as Fermi said of aliens: Where are they?

In the formulations of the some of the expositors of the technological singularity the effects of the singularity sound frighteningly similar to Stalinist gigantism, and if this is the case then the footprint of a technological singularity ought to be as visible as an enormous and vulgar Palace of the Soviets — a beacon to the cosmos of the paradise of the machines. Of course, machines may have better taste than earth-bound tyrannies.

An important note: in the bigger picture, the emergence of intelligence as the result of natural processes (as has happened on the earth) is itself a natural process, and the order the intelligence imposes upon its environment is as “natural” as that intelligence itself. However, we know that naturally occurring forms of order differ strikingly from forms of order imposed by intelligence. We know this intuitively, but it is extraordinarily difficult to give an explicit account of it.

If you travel to an unfamiliar place and look out over the landscape, you will likely know immediately whether or not other human beings make their home there: the presence of human habitation alters the landscape. Also, most of us are familiar with what wilderness looks like, and it does look anything like civilization.

Exactly what the difference is between what we might call organic forms of order on the one hand, and on the other hand mechanistic forms of order, however obvious it may be on an intuitive level, is something that we might reasonably expect from a philosophy of technology.

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Grand Strategy Annex

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The Truth is Out There

It is a demonstration of the perennial character of philosophical thought that one of the fundamental distinctions that has defined Western philosophy — the distinction between realism and idealism — finds itself clearly instantiated in contemporary popular culture. For realism may be adequately summarized as the view that “the truth is out there” while idealism (which admittedly takes many forms) is equally well summarized either by the “new age” idea that you make your own reality, or by the academic parallel to this, which is deconstructivism, in which anything can mean anything. Everything old is new again.

I just finished listening to Timothy Ferris book, Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril. Timothy Ferris is one of my favorite science writers, and indeed his earlier book The Red Limit is one of my favorite books.

While Ferris frequently invokes the kind of anti-philosophy that I have become accustomed to encountering in the writings of scientists, he also cites philosophers has diverse as Hegel and Wittgenstein (the latter of whom he has read thoroughly enough to even know his wartime journal, which is not widely read). Despite these philosophical citations, his philosophical formulations remain true to scientific anti-philosophy in their thoroughly naive spirit. For example, he frequently employs the idiom of the objects of astronomy being “really out there” as a kind of visceral reminder of realism:

“Once the sky was fully dark I had a look at the Triangulum galaxy, which at a distance of less then three million light-years from Earth is a local object by intergalactic standards. Its rangy spiral arms, tangled with glowing clouds of gas, spilled out beyond the field of view. As often happens, I was struck by the fact that all these things, unimaginably big or small or hot or cold as they may be, really are out there. Like giant squid or loaves of French bread — and unlike, say, postmodernism or public opinion polls — they confront us with the regality of the materially real.”

Timothy Ferris, Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril, 2003, p. 64

For Timothy Ferris, the truth is out there, as poignantly palpable as any any visceral sensation. Which leads us to another, better known, visceral assertion of realism, from Boswell’s Life of Johnson:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”

James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson

The responses of Samuel Johnson and Timothy Ferris may be charitably characterized as an embodied philosophical doctrine, a practical realism arising from an engagement with the world. This practical realism is better known as scientific realism, which is an ontological doctrine. The corollary of scientific realism as expressed in scientific practice is methodological naturalism.

Acts of practical realism, as engagements with the world, constitute what Bertrand Russell called the enlargement of the self. I previously discussed Russell’s conception of the enlargement of the self in Too see is to forget the name of the thing one sees. It is important to understand that Russell is not talking about the enlargement of the ego, but rather the antithesis of this. Russell also calls this an ethic of impersonal self enlargement: “when the desire for knowledge is alone operative, by a study which does not wish in advance that its objects should have this or that character, but adapts the Self to the characters which it finds in its objects.”

This is the moral component of science, which makes practical realism not only an intellectual imperative but also a moral imperative, and by way of the moral imperative — being primarily intellectual and intangible — we draw closer to a purely theoretical realism.

It is interesting to note that Russell employed the idiom of “objects” in the Russell quote above, since this point of view shares some similarities with object oriented ontology in its various forms. I have discussed this recent philosophical school in several posts, and I suggested a moral interpretation, an object oriented axiology, in Metaphysical Responsibility.

In Russell’s sense of an impersonal enlargement of the self through scientific understanding we have a concern for objects for their own sake, which “adapts the Self to the characters which it finds in its objects.” Russell felt a metaphysical responsibility to the objects of science. I think that Boswell felt a metaphysical responsibility to the perennial character of stones, as Ferris feels a metaphysical responsibility to the stars and the galaxies.

The astronomer takes responsibility for planets, stars, and galaxies and seeks to give an account of them that gets them right for their own sake. The paleontologist takes responsibility for bones and fossils and seeks to give an account of them that gets them right for their own sake. The physicist takes responsibility for fundamental particles and the mathematician takes responsibility for numbers and each seeks to give an account of their chosen field of endeavor that gets the objects right for their own sake.

All of these are examples from the natural sciences, sometimes also called the “hard” sciences, and although it would be a little more difficult to give the parallel formulations for the social sciences, with certain qualifications I think that the parallel cases hold.

In Object Disoriented Axiology I cited a short quote from Jung, “No one has any obligations to a concept…” as embodying the antithesis of the perspective of object oriented axiology. Jung’s claim was simply a special case of moral nihilism — a moral nihilism directed exclusively at those who employ concepts, which is ultimately and eventually all of us.

The formulations above from the physical sciences, taking as my examples the astronomer, the paleontologist, the physicist, and the mathematician, have their conceptual parallel in the philosopher. The philosopher takes responsibility for concepts and seeks to give an account of them that gets them right for their own sake. In this parallelism of science and philosophy, we can see also a parallelism between practical realism and theoretical realism. The philosopher formulates a pure theoretical realism in light of his responsibilities to concepts. In so doing, the philosopher gives the science of concepts, as scientists give the philosophy of non-conceptual objects.

Thus, despite the fashionable anti-philosophy of many scientists, that often leads them to say unkind things about purely philosophical inquiry, I see the enterprises of science and philosophy as parallel undertakings, and I grant the scientists their due in this endeavor. A complete account of the world cannot be written without the contributions of scientists, who give an account of scientific objects from the point of view of those who feel an obligation to these objects. But a complete view of the world is equally elusive without the contribution of those who give an account of non-scientific objects.

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Grand Strategy Annex

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Two Thoughts on Naturalism

26 December 2009


Several times in this forum I have identified my own views as a form of philosophical naturalism, and while I haven’t given any kind of systematic exposition to naturalism I have made a few suggestions, such as in A Formulation of Naturalism, in which I suggested that naturalism can be treated as materialism analogously to finitism in transfinite set theory: we follow materialism as far as it can go, and only depart from it when it forces incoherent formulations upon us in the attempt to preserve an unadulterated materialism. (In retrospect, what I said there about materialism I could just as well have formulated as mechanism: in naturalism we follow mechanistic explanations as far as we can.) With that in mind, here are two more passing thoughts about naturalism.

Naturalism: Thought One

Naturalism accepts science at face value. Now, this is simple enough, but any explicit and simple statement usually requires a great deal of qualification in order to make it accurate when applied to the detail and complexity of the actual world. And since naturalism emphatically is concerned that it be in touch with the actual world and not some fantasy world of wish-fulfillment, it is important that we at least try to get naturalism’s relation to science right.

It is a difficult philosophical problem to say exactly what science is. Separating science from other intellectual enterprises (some of which are mistakenly called science when they are not) is called the demarcation problem. We cannot presuppose an answer to the demarcation problem, because there is as yet no adequate formulation of it. Moreover, science changes. We must accept that scientific theories regularly displace earlier theories with more recent theories, with the consequence being that scientific knowledge changes.

One of my favorite quotes from Foucault runs, “A real science recognizes and accepts its own history without feeling attacked.” (from “Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault”) This is more difficult than it sounds. Moreover, Foucault offers this as a demarcation criterion. This hasn’t gotten the attention of, for example, Popper’s use of falsifiability as a demarcation criterion, but I think it is worth keeping in mind.

For naturalism to accept science at face value means that naturalism accepts that scientific knowledge changes, and it accepts the history of science without feeling attacked by a past that has been abandoned. Anti-naturalistic doctrines (such as those of Plantinga I recently mentioned in A Note on Plantinga) almost without exception view science as a obstacle, as a looming problem on the horizon that the non-naturalistic thinker will resist honestly dealing with until forced to deal with it. When the retrograde thinker is forced to consider the results of science, it is usually only in a series of compromises that seek to evade and avoid the straight-forward conclusions of science.

Naturalism: Thought Two

Just a few days ago in Ideas Again I argued that it is important to distinguish between embodied ideas and abstract ideas. An embodied idea is an idea that is not made explicit and given exposition as an idea, but is made actual through its exemplification in the life of an individual. Mystics embody mysticism and scientists embody science; Plotinus embodies the possibility of mysticism as Darwin embodies the possibility of science.

Today’s thought on naturalism and embodied ideas is that it could be plausibly argued that it is the natural order of things that an idea emerges first in its embodied form, and only later is made abstract and explicit in formal consciousness by an act of de-contextualization. That is to say, the embodied idea must be consciously torn out of its context and exhibited in isolation in order to attain to the status of an abstract idea.

Moreover, one could go further than saying that it is the natural order of things that embodied ideas should (temporally) precede abstract ideas, and one could assert that Naturalism entails that all ideas will first be manifest in embodied form. In other words, there are no abstract ideas that are given to us as abstract ideas; all ideas are ultimately derived from experience. I would call this radical empiricism if William James had not already employed that phrase to his own ends.

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Naturalism: a Series

1. A Formulation of Naturalism

2. Two Thoughts on Naturalism

3. Naturalism: Yet Another Formulation

4. Joseph Campbell and Kenneth Clark: Bifurcating Naturalisms

5. Naturalism and Object Oriented Ontology

6. Naturalism and Suffering

7. Transcendental Non-Naturalism

8. Methodological Naturalism and the Eerie Silence

9. Some Formulations of Methodological Naturalism

10. Darwin’s Cosmology: A Naturalistic World

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Grand Strategy Annex

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