Naturalism (philosophy) -

Naturalism (philosophy)

Naturalism is "the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world".[1] It is the belief that "the natural world is the whole of reality".[2] The term was first used this way in English in 1750.[3]

It is a kind of philosophy called metaphysical, because it covers everything: "nature is all there is, and all basic truths are truths of nature".[4]

All the things and powers which are commonly called supernatural, such as God, souls or witchcraft do not exist, according to this position.

Method and science

Methodological or scientific naturalism is concerned with practical methods for acquiring knowledge.

Many scientists use the scientific method for their research. Hypotheses are be explained and tested only by reference to natural causes and events.[5]

Explanations for observations are only useful when they are based on hypotheses of natural causes. An explanation that relies on a natural mechanism that works according to certain rules is usable. Explanations that need miracles to work are not.

Methodological naturalism is the principle underlying all of modern science. Some philosophers extend this idea, so that it applies to all of philosophy as well. Science and philosophy, according to this view, are said to form a continuum. W.V. Quine, George Santayana, and other philosophers have advocated this view.

A number of other philosophical ideas are similar to naturalism:

Other websites


  1. Oxford English Dictionary Online naturalism
  2. Jenkins I. 1942, in Runes D.D. The dictionary of philosophy. New York:Philosophical Library, p205.
  3. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, volume 2.
  4. "Naturalism", in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan, 1996 Supplement, 372-373.
  5. Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism: clarifying the connection. Barbara Forrest 2000. Retrieved 2007-05-20.

Categories: Epistemology | Philosophy of science

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