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Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 10:08 am
by Maxcady10001
Why are there so few people willing to accept the materialist or naturalist label, even if it's consistent with their world view? Is there some kind of social stigma associated with being a naturalist or a materialist? Why does there have to be more than a natural or material world?

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 5:22 pm
by Albert Tatlock
Maxcady10001 wrote:Why are there so few people willing to accept the materialist or naturalist label,
Perhaps it's the label they object to, rather than what's written on it. Besides, it would be a very simple person who could be summed up by one word on a label.
Why does there have to be more than a natural or material world?
On the other hand, what's to stop there being more?

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 5:43 pm
by MrOJC
On the other hand, what's to stop there being more?
I think this is dependant on the type of definition used for what is "natural". If natural means anything that occurs in nature (= "the external world in it's entirety") then everything is in fact natural.
For example a ghost: If something like that existed it would be something natural.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 6:56 pm
by Maxcady10001
The labels I mentioned are only referring to describing one's world view, not all aspects of themselves, although you could argue those aspects determine a person's world view, but taking on the label does not diminish the other aspects of a person's personality. Just because someone is rationalizing the world from a materialist or naturalist' perspective does not mean they can't enjoy a certain activity, or even accept other labels, like Democrat, Republican, Communist, or Marxist. And, I would deny that one word can't summarize a person without simplifying them.
Ex: thinker, philosopher, activist, deviant, rebel, writer
I wasn't trying to say the labels mentioned were the only ones a person could ever take on l, just that no one ever admits to taking on those particular labels.

A naturalist or materialist may say (or I would say again) why do people need there to be more, isn't the natural world good enough? What's to stop there from being more? I would say the laws of the universe, to which you will say i'm presuming to know. So what's to stop there from being more? Nothing I could say.

Also, do naturalist and materialist mean the same?

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 9:01 pm
by Consul
MrOJC wrote:
On the other hand, what's to stop there being more?
I think this is dependant on the type of definition used for what is "natural". If natural means anything that occurs in nature (= "the external world in it's entirety") then everything is in fact natural.
For example a ghost: If something like that existed it would be something natural.
When (metaphysical/ontological) naturalists say that everything real is natural, they certainly don't mean to say that "real" is synonymous with "natural", such that any real ghost would be a natural ghost.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 9:14 pm
by Chili
Maxcady10001 wrote:Why are there so few people willing to accept the materialist or naturalist label, even if it's consistent with their world view? Is there some kind of social stigma associated with being a naturalist or a materialist? Why does there have to be more than a natural or material world?
There's certainly less for a philosopher to discuss if he/she is a materialist. BTW if one person says they are a materialist and other people's minds arise from materialism, and a 2nd person says they are a materialist and other people don't have conscious minds, who is the real materialist? Or are these just different types of materialist?

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 9:43 pm
by Maxcady10001
Would the 2nd person admit to also not have a conscious mind? If so, would they be refuting their own materialist world view, because if materialism is true in their sense how could they recognize their unconsciousness? I would say the first materialist.
I think there is still a lot philosophy out there that doesn't include the metaphysical.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 11:43 pm
by Greta
Consul wrote:
MrOJC wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

I think this is dependant on the type of definition used for what is "natural". If natural means anything that occurs in nature (= "the external world in it's entirety") then everything is in fact natural.
For example a ghost: If something like that existed it would be something natural.
When (metaphysical/ontological) naturalists say that everything real is natural, they certainly don't mean to say that "real" is synonymous with "natural", such that any real ghost would be a natural ghost.
I would. If ghosts are found to be true then there must me a mechanism for them that has not yet been found. If there are other "layers" or "dimensions" of existence then surely they play a role in all of nature as well as known things? Separate domains can still interact, as evidenced by relativistic and quantum scales.

For one who embraces naturalist thought, the metaphysical is treated as roughly synonymous with the "unknown physical" or "speculative physical".

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 1:05 am
by Spectrum
You need to define "materialist" and "naturalist."

If "materialist" is 'Philosophical Materialism', Berkeley has destroyed this theory.
With the defeat, Materialists has shifted to Philosophical Physicalism which encompasses Quantum Mechanics and is 'spookiness.'
wiki wrote:In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that ONLY natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world."[1] Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.
The above 'Naturalism' is different from 'Materialism.'
Theists who claimed all natural laws are from a God will obviously reject Philosophical Naturalism.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 2:28 am
by JamesOfSeattle
As a [very] amateur philosopher, I consder myself a materialist/naturalist/physicalist/functionalist because I can't tell the differences between them. I was not aware there are some who may be embarrassed by the description.

Spectrum, what is the philosophical materialist Theory that Berkeley destroyed? How is naturalism different from materialism?

*

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 3:07 am
by Spectrum
Spectrum wrote:You need to define "materialist" and "naturalist."

If "materialist" is 'Philosophical Materialism', Berkeley has destroyed this theory.
With the defeat, Materialists has shifted to Philosophical Physicalism which encompasses Quantum Mechanics and is 'spookiness.'
wiki wrote:In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that ONLY natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world."[1] Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.
The above 'Naturalism' is different from 'Materialism.'
Theists who claimed all natural laws are from a God will obviously reject Philosophical Naturalism.
Wiki wrote: Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions.
Wiki wrote:In the classical physics observed in everyday life, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. This includes atoms and anything made up of these, but not other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound.[1][2]
More generally, however, in (modern) physics, matter is not a fundamental concept because a universal definition of it is elusive; for example, the elementary constituents of atoms may be point particles, each having no volume individually.
Berkeley [1685 -1753] destroyed the theory of Philosophy of Materialism based on the definition of classic physics then.

Whilst the above wiki article extended 'matter' to Modern Physics. However, the effective term is 'Physical' i.e. Physicalism which is a more advanced theory than the older Philosophical Materialism.

The difference:
Naturalism is related to Materialism [or Physicalism] but specifically contrasted its opposition to supernatural or spiritual laws.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 3:54 am
by Maxcady10001
No wonder there aren't any more materialists. Thank you for the correction. I believe the question is still valid for naturalism.

-- Updated November 3rd, 2017, 4:10 am to add the following --

Naturalism- the idea or belief only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world. The naturalism in philosophy is defined by wiki this way.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 6:23 am
by Steve3007
How about another -ism to throw into the mix:

Anything-that-can-be-observed-and-whose-observations-contain-regularities-that-can-be-used-to-predict-future-observations-ism.

Is that almost the same as physicalism? I don't think so, because it doesn't rely on any definition of what is "physical". All it needs is the ability to make observations and notice regularities in those observations.

Being a materialist, or a material-and-energy-ist, seems to me far too restrictive. Matter and energy are two of the concepts that we happen to find very useful in linking observations together. Others are available. Others may be invented in the future. It seems silly to arbitrarily pick these two and make them into an -ism.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 7:39 am
by Togo1
I would shy away from being described as a materialist or physicalist, mainly because I think the insistence on all things being material isn't helpful.

In general there are three alternaitves. Idealism, the idea that all things are fundamentally mental, and the physical world is just an abstraction of the mental one. This is generally supported on the grounds that only mental events can be directly experienced, and everything else has to be constructed from there. Materialism is the idea that all things are fundamentally physical, and that the mental world is just an abstraction of the physical one. This is generally supported on the ground that only physical events form part of our shared experiences, and thus are the only things we can really talk about with each other. And then there is dualism, the idea that both mental and physical descriptions are valid for different things, or for different aspects of the same things. This is generally supported on the grounds that it covers everything most precisely, but does run into the problem of what such a split actually means, and how mental and physical things are supposed to interact.

I think there are people who cover each of these apporaches. The rarest tend to be idealists, simply because it's the hardest position to talk about.

Re: Any materialists or naturalists here?

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 11:49 am
by Consul
Greta wrote:
Consul wrote:When (metaphysical/ontological) naturalists say that everything real is natural, they certainly don't mean to say that "real" is synonymous with "natural", such that any real ghost would be a natural ghost.
I would. If ghosts are found to be true then there must me a mechanism for them that has not yet been found. If there are other "layers" or "dimensions" of existence then surely they play a role in all of nature as well as known things? Separate domains can still interact, as evidenced by relativistic and quantum scales.
For one who embraces naturalist thought, the metaphysical is treated as roughly synonymous with the "unknown physical" or "speculative physical".
You may draw a distinction between truly supernatural or hyperphysical phenomena and merely "paranatural" or "cryptophysical" phenomena; but my point is that (metaphysical/ontological) naturalism becomes meaningless if the natural is definitionally equated with the real. For example, it is part of naturalism that reality is nothing over and above the concrete world(s) of space and time. So, for instance, it excludes transcendent deities and Platonic abstracta from reality; and if such things are real, naturalism is false. That everything real is natural is a nontrivial and substantive ontological thesis that is not true by definition.

-- Updated November 3rd, 2017, 11:04 am to add the following --
Steve3007 wrote: Being a materialist, or a material-and-energy-ist, seems to me far too restrictive. Matter and energy are two of the concepts that we happen to find very useful in linking observations together. Others are available. Others may be invented in the future. It seems silly to arbitrarily pick these two and make them into an -ism.
Materialism is the view that Existence/Reality = MEST (the matter-energy-space-time system), but it doesn't depend on obsolete premodern conceptions of matter. As Jack Smart, one of the champions of 20th-century materialism, writes:

"By 'materialism' I mean the theory that there is nothing in the world over and above those entities which are postulated by physics (or, of course, those entities which will be postulated by future and more adequate physical theories). Thus I do not hold materialism to be wedded to the billiard-ball physics of the nineteenth century. The less visualizable particles of modern physics count as matter. Note that energy counts as matter for my purposes: indeed in modern physics energy and matter are not sharply distinguishable. Nor do I hold that materialism implies determinism. If physics is indeterministic on the micro-level, so must be the materialist's theory. I regard materialism as compatible with a wide range of conceptions of the nature of matter and energy. For example, if matter and energy consist of regions of special curvature of absolute space-time, with 'worm-holes' and what not, this is still compatible with materialism: we can still argue that in the last resort the world is made up entirely of the ultimate entities of physics, namely space-time points."

(Smart, J. J. C. "Materialism." 1963. In Essays Metaphysical and Moral: Selected Philosophical Papers, 203-214. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987. p. 203)

"There is nothing in the universe over and above the entities postulated by physics. Of course, these aren't the hard, massy particles of nineteenth-century physics, but I see no point in tying the notion of 'the material' to the physics of our great-grandfathers. For me, the material is just the physical, and I feel entitled to believe in all the entities which the physicist needs to assume. As a materialist, I am quite prepared to acknowledge that my vocabulary outruns that of physics, since we talk about such things as rivers, trees, tables, and so on. But I must insist that these rivers, trees, tables, and so on are just suitably structured aggregates of the fundamental entities of physics."

(Smart, J. J. C. "The Revival of Materialism." 1976. In Essays Metaphysical and Moral: Selected Philosophical Papers, 240-245. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987. p. 240)

As for the choice of labels, nowadays most philosophers prefer "physicalism" and "physicalist" to "materialism" and "materialist"; but here I fully agree with David Lewis:

"[Materialism] was so named when the best physics of the day was the physics of matter alone. Now our best physics acknowledges other bearers of fundamental properties: parts of pervasive fields, parts of causally active spacetime. But it would be pedantry to change the name on that account, and disown our intellectual ancestors. Or worse, it would be a tacky marketing ploy, akin to British Rail's decree that second class passengers shall now be called 'standard class customers'."

(Lewis, David. "Reduction of Mind." In A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, edited by Samuel D. Guttenplan, 412-431. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. p. 413)

"I say 'materialistic' where some would rather say 'physicalistic': an adequate theory must be consistent with the truth and completeness of some theory in much the style of present-day physics. ('Completeness' is to be explained in terms of supervenience.)
Some fear that 'materialism' conveys a commitment that this ultimate physics must be a physics of matter alone: no fields, no radiation, no causally active spacetime. Not so! Let us proclaim our solidarity with forebears who, like us, wanted their philosophy to agree with ultimate physics. Let us not chide and disown them for their less advanced ideas about what ultimate physics might say."


(Lewis, David. "Naming the Colours." In Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology, 332-358. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. p. 332n2)