When I decided a few days ago to make this second attempt at a website, this was to have been the topic of the first page. With the BPW page, I was perhaps getting ahead of myself. That is, however, likely to remain the core idea of this obviously evolving website.
Naturalism is a rather succinct label. The only alternative is simply supernaturalism, and that is what we must consider. I may have been procrastinating just to postpone this inevitable confrontation.
I have spoken of the failure of the analytical movement to locate the mental or functional equivalent of the physical atoms. This is also known as the problem of holism. In psychology and linguistics everything seems dependent on everything else: everything is contextual.
First came the sensationists, then the associationists, then the behaviorists, and lately it has been the functionalists. Each in their turn has attempted to construct a theory of the 'mind' as a combinatorial construct of some set of simple elements. The continuing lack of success has given rise to our (neo) naturalists. The naturalists accept and even embrace the idea of emergent novel properties or entities. Thus they distinguish themselves from the physicalists or reductionists.
The naturalists come in two main flavors: epistemic and ontic. The former maintain that emergence is mainly just subjective and due largely to our (innate?) inability to make a proper analysis of sufficiently complex systems. But they are unable then to explain the considerable success of the biologists in grasping and exploiting these 'illusory' entities. How could such considerable ability be based on sheer ignorance? The same goes for our everyday ability to communicate successfully, more often than by mere chance.
This leaves us with the ontic variety of naturalist. Those mysteriously emergent entities are objectively real, albeit immaterial. There are, roaming the philosophical forest, a few who call themselves non-reductive physicalists, but theirs appears to be a rearguard action.
What are we to make of these immaterial entities? From whence do they come? Where do they reside? If they are 'real' then they exist independently of human consciousness. As to their origin, they are just a concomitant of evolution. End of story? This website is dedicated to the real possibility that this is not the end of the story.
It is with extreme reluctance and foreboding that the philosophical and scientific communities are being pushed into acknowledging an immaterial realm that is of material consequence. Quite suddenly we are having to confront an immaterial but very substantial aspect of 'nature'. (N.B. the 'scare' quotes!)
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