Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Se. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India


Naturalism is a concept that firmly believes that ultimate reality lies in the nature of the matter. Matter is considered to be supreme and mind is the functioning of the brain that is made up of matter. The whole universe is governed by laws of nature and they are changeable. It’s through our sense that we are able to get the real knowledge. The senses works like real gateways of knowledge and exploration is the method that helps in studying nature

Running through most of the l literature today one finds a dominant thread.  The central theme of this thread is expressed in such terms as “continuous progress,” “the perfectibility of mankind,” and “perpetual betterment through scientific advances.” The underlying philosophy of this outlook is signified by the term “naturalism .As a philosophy of life (perhaps the oldest one) it maintains that nature is the only reality worthy of the serious consideration of man, and that man himself is the apex of this reality.


Basic Concept of Naturalism 

The meaning of the name naturalism is strongly implied in the word itself. It is the view point which regards the world of nature as the all in all of reality . Naturalism, commonly known as materialism, is a philosophical paradigm whereby everything can be explained in terms of natural causes. Physical matter is the only reality — everything can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena. Naturalism, by definition, excludes any Supernatural Agent or activity. Thus, naturalism is atheism. Naturalism’s exclusion of God necessitates moral relativism.

Naturalism is an artistic movement advocating realistic description: in art or literature, a movement or school advocating factual or realistic description of life, including its less pleasant aspects. In literature,

Naturalism has strong belief in religious truth from nature: a belief that all religious truth is derived from nature and natural causes, and not from revelation.
The  doctrine rejecting spiritual explanations of world: a system of thought that rejects all spiritual and supernatural explanations of the world and holds that science is the sole basis of what can be known


Ancient period

Naturalism appears to have originated in early Greek philosophy. The earliest pre -socratic philosophers, such as Thales, Anaxagoras or most especially Democritus, were labeled by their peers and successors “the physikoiphysikos, meaning “natural philosopher,” borrowing on the word physis, meaning “nature”) because they sought to explain everything by reference to natural causes alone, often distinctly excluding any role for gods, spirits or magic in the creation or operation of the world..

As for as the history of philosophy is concerned, naturalism is the oldest philosophy. The earliest figures with whom our histories of philosophy commonly begin were naturalists.

Thales The father of western philosophy ( 640 B.C.- 550 B.C.)  was a mathematician, astronomer, and businessman.

For Thales, . “The principle of all things is water; all comes from water, and to water all returns, the principle of things is water, or moisture, which should not be considered exclusively in a materialistic and empirical sense. Indeed it is considered that which has neither beginning nor end – an active, living, divine force. It seems that Thales was induced to proffer water as the first principle by the observation that all living things are sustained by moisture and perish without it.

Anaximander ( 611 B.C.- 547 B.C.)  was probably a disciple of Thales  According to him” The principle of all things is infinite atmosphere, which has a perpetual vitality of its own, produces all things, and governs all things.:”

For Anaximander, the first principle of all things is the “indeterminate” – apeiron. There are no historical data to enlighten us as to what Anaximander may have meant by the “indeterminate”; perhaps it was the Chaos or Space of which physicists speak today .All things originate from the Unlimited, because movement causes within that mysterious element certain quakes or shocks which in turn bring about a separation of the qualities contained in the Unlimited.

The first animals were fish, which sprang from the original humidity of the earth. Fish came to shore, lost their scales, assumed another form and thus gave origin to the various species of animals. Man thus traces his origin from the animals. Because of this, Anaximander has come to be considered the first evolutionist

Anaximenes (end of the sixth century B.C., -524 B.C). He was probably a disciple of Anaximander and he composed a treatise of unknown title.According to Anaximenes the first principle from which everything is generated is air. Air, through the two opposite processes of condensation and rarefaction, which are due to heat and cold, has generated fire, wind, clouds, water, heaven and earth.He reduces the multiplicity of nature to a single principle, animated and divine, which would be the reason for all empirical becoming.

But the ancient roots of naturalism have much fuller body in four other men who have been called atomists, only two of whom were contemporaries. Leucippus and Democritus,. Epicurus (341-270 b.c.), more than a century later, whose carrier was largely subsequent to Aristotle’s was devoted to the ideas of Democritus. And Lucretius (96-55 b.c.), though not even a Greek and born almost two and one half centuries after Epicurus, was a great admirer of Epicurus. All four are called atomists because they conceived of reality as fundamentally a matter of atoms moving in space.

Leucippus and Democritus explained the Nature by  two simple things: empty space and atoms. This empty space they considered to be the same as nothing, nonexistence, or nonbeing. About the substance filling empty space, giving us all the things making up the world, they reasoned that it must be constituted by small indivisible units piled one upon another. These hypothetical units they called atoms. Theoretically, at least, division of parts into smaller parts can go on indefinitely. There may  be some infinitesimal unit which is elemental and cannot be divided further. This, because of its imputed indivisibility, they called an atom.

Little was said about empty space, nor could there be; it was a void in which atoms could move. The atoms, however, were considered to be of an infinite variety of sizes, shapes, and weights. Everything in Nature as we now behold it is the result of atoms moving through space. When the atoms come together in clusters, things come into being; when they move apart, objects dissolve and fall into nonexistence. Even mind and soul are made up of atoms, evolving and dissolving in the same manner. But mind and soul are made of fine, smooth atoms which are perfectly round, similar to the atoms of which fire was supposedly composed. Mind and soul, like fire, have great mobility; and their atoms therefore must be very active.

The motion of atoms in space be described as random, in the sense that there is movement in all kinds of different directions. Such random movement resulted in atoms colliding with one another, thence forming clusters and accumulating the mass to constitute such objects as rocks, trees, and planets.

From this elemental ground, Nature as we now know it has evolved Worlds whirled together as the atoms formed large masses in vast swirling motions. Vegetation grew, animals developed, and man arose, his speech and institutions resulting with the same kind of necessity as produced minerals and vegetation. .

Epicurus does go definitely beyond Democritus in considering the knowledge problem .he was at least aware that if objects are made of atoms, and the mind and soul are also made of atoms, some explanation must be found, harmonizing with the atom-space description of reality, making somewhat clear how the impression of an object gets into the mind of the man who beholds it. His solution was that objects give off a kind of film of atoms which is transmitted to the mind through the sense, anther yields a king of photographic replica of the object. This replica is not a copy pure and simple, for it is constituted by atoms given off by the object itself. It is a valid image of the object, in which the very qualities of the object are  retained, having been transmitted to the mind by the particles given off by the object.

Thomas Hobbes Like the ancient naturalists, Hobbes conceived Nature as an affair of bodies moving in space.. A body he defined as a thing which exists in and of itself and has no dependence what so ever upon our though about it. Bodies exist outside of us and do not depend on any relation to us. By space Hobbes meant a place outside of the mind which can be filled by an object There yet remains one other item in Hobbes’ description of Nature, namely, motion; and motion he defined as :the privation of one place and the acquisition of another.” It is that way of behaving seen in Nature by which a body can first occupy one spot, then another, and still another, and so on. Motion is as fundamental as rest; it is not caused by something other than motion; it is its own cause. If a body is in motion, some body which is at rest will have to impeded its movement in order for it to come to rest. Contrariwise, when a body is at rest it does not get into motion unless it is pushed by another body endeavoring to get into its place.

Combining these definitions, we have Nature described by Hobbes as an aggregate of things existing outside of our minds, and therefore evidencing the reality of a space beyond us, but also an aggregate of things moving from one place to another in that space which is beyond us.

Jean Jacques Rousseau in his A Discourse on Inequality, an account of the historical development of the human race, distinguished between “natural man” (man as formed by nature) and “social man” (man as shaped by society). He argued that good education should develop the nature of man. Yet Rousseau found that mankind has not one nature but several: man originally lived in a “pure state of nature” but was altered by changes beyond control and took on a different nature; this nature, in turn, was changed as man became social. The creation of the arts and sciences caused man to become “less pure,” more artificial, and egoistic, and man’s egoistic nature prevents him from regaining the simplicity of original human nature. Rousseau is pessimistic, almost fatalistic, about changing the nature of modern man.

According to Francis Bacon, man would be able to explain all the processes in nature if he could acquire full insight into the hidden structure and the secret workings of matter. Bacon’s conception of structures in nature, functioning according to its own working method, concentrates on the question of how natural order is produced, namely by the interplay of matter and motion. In De Principiis atque Originibus, his materialistic stance with regard to his conception of natural law becomes evident. The Summary Law of Nature is a virtus (matter-cum-motion) or power in accordance with matter theory, or “the force implanted by God in these first particles, form the multiplication thereof of all the variety of things proceeds and is made up” . Similarly, in De Sapientia Veterum he attributes to this force an “appetite or instinct of primal matter; or to speak more plainly, the natural motion of the atom; which is indeed the original and unique force that constitutes and fashions all things out of matter” . Suffice it to say here that Bacon, who did not reject mathematics in science, was influenced by the early mathematical version of chemistry developed in the 16th century, so that the term “instinct” must be seen as a keyword for his theory of nature Bacon’s theory of active or even vivid force in matter accounts for what he calls Cupid in De Principiis atque Originibus . Bacon’s ideas concerning the quid facti of reality presuppose the distinction “between understanding how things are made up and of what they consist, …. and by what force and in what manner they come together, and how they are transformed” . This is the point in his work where it becomes obvious that he tries to develop an explanatory pattern in which his theory of matter, and thus his atomism, are related to his cosmology, magic, and alchemy.

Middle ages to modernity

With the rise and dominance of Christianity and the decline of secular philosophy in the West naturalism became heretical and eventually illegal, thus making it difficult to document the history of naturalism in the Middle Ages. When the Renaissance reintroduced numerous lost treatises by Greek and Roman natural philosophers, many of the ideas and concepts of naturalism were picked up again, contributing to a new Scientific Revolution that would greatly advance the study and understanding of nature Then a few intellectuals publicly renewed the case for  naturalism, like Baron d’Holbach in the 18th century.

In this period,  naturalism finally acquired a distinct name, materialism, which became the only category of metaphysical naturalism widely defended until the 20th century, when advances in physics as well as philosophy made the original premise of materialism untenable

Today, noteworthy proponents are too numerous to count, but prominent defenders of naturalism as a complete worldview include Mario Bunge ,Richard Carrier ,  Daniel Dennett , and David Mill.

Certain extreme varieties of politicized naturalism have arisen in the West, most notably Marxism in the 19th century and Objectivism  in the 20th century.


Naturalism in the broad sense has been maintained in diverse forms by Aristotle, the Cynics, the Stoics, Giordano Bruno, Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes, Auguste Comte, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, William James, John Dewey, and Alfred North Whitehead, philosophers who differ widely on specific questions. Some, like Comte and Nietzsche, were professed atheists, while others accepted a god in pantheistic terms. Aristotle, James, and Dewey all attempted to explain phenomena in terms of biological processes of perception; Spinoza and the idealists tended to emphasize metaphysics; later thinkers of all schools have placed emphasis on unifying the scientific viewpoint with an all-encompassing reality. This amalgamation of science and an overall explanation of the universe in naturalistic terms is the source of much of contemporary philosophic thought



Concept of God

Many naturalists do not use the term God , but surprisingly there are Naturalists who talk about God ,and although they do not advance classical arguments for His existence they go on to give some definition of His nature.

According toWiesman, the renowned Naturalist God is within Nature .He is not all nature nor more than  nature .He is that particular structure of nature in nature which is sufficiently limited to be described as making possible the realization of value and as the foundation of all values

God is that process within Nature which is a kind of open door to all who would grow in richness of life and at the same time God is the stable ground in Nature which sustains and constitute the values by which life is enriched ,Because of this, God, the structure of value itself, is the greatest of all values, the most worthy in human experience to which man must adjust if he is to grow in the possession and enjoyment of value.

The Concept of Self

Tow important aspects of the query about man are whether he has a soul and whether he is good or bad. For Naturalists they are not much interested in the soul of man and his moral conditions. According to Naturalism, man is a child of nature; yet, nevertheless, he is a most significant child .For in the evolutionary processes that have been at work in the universe so far, man is on the very crest of the wave. He has capacities and has achieved heights common to no other child of Nature True enough, he has selfhood of a sort; but there is such a remarkable gamut of refinement in the achievements in selfhood of different men that it is difficult to say what it is that men possess in common as a self, or, traditionally as a soul .The self seems to be an organization of experiencing .Such a description is quite far from those which state that man is made in the image of God. The human self is seen by naturalism as an offshoot of Nature, and not as springing from beyond Nature.

Concept of Universe

The family of naturalists becomes exceedingly large, especially in modern times, when one the label of naturalism to denote ay parson who denies (implicitly or explicitly) the existence of anything above nature, or those who disregard the supernatural. Thus Rousseau, who was a deist, fits into this category , even though he believed that God had created the world. Spencer, the agnostic, falls into the same class since he believed that even if the supernatural realm existed man could know nothing about it


Naturalists highlight the value of scientific knowledge the scientific knowledge acquiring through specific observation, accumulation and generalization. They also lay emphasis on the empirical and experimental knowledge. Naturalists also lay stress on sensory training as senses are the gateways to learning

The naturalist rejected the role that intellect or reason play in the knowing process and put forth the claim that the only valid from of knowing process and put forth the claim that he only valid form of knowledge is that derived from experience. For the early naturalists, “experience” chiefly meant that mode of acquiring knowledge based on direct contact of the organism with the physical world thought the senses. The more sophisticated naturalists included the refined modes of knowing used by the empirical sciences. Both, however, imply a denial of reason as a source of knowledge. In practice, both types of experience are evident in naturalistic theory.

Naturalism does not necessarily claim that phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural do not exist or are wrong, but insists that all phenomena and hypotheses can be studied by the same methods and therefore anything considered supernatural is either nonexistent or not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses


There are two general observations to be made concerning the logic of naturalism which will help to describe the setting for its more specific discussion. The first is that, most generally considered, formal deductive logic such as was mentioned briefly in the introduction has a minor place in the methods of logic approved by naturalism.

The second observation is that is great variation in the methods of logic employed by naturalists. The logic of the earlier and more naïve naturalism is the simple material logic of induction. In modern naturalism, greater place is given to deductive logic because of the confidence placed in the independence of relations by realists.

This narrows the task of the present discussion to a consideration of simple induction as the logic of naturalism. Of course, the kind of naturalism referred to is more especially the earlier naturalism such as inspired the first steps in the development of scientific method. In its most elementary form, induction is the accumulation of accurate and detailed information by direct relation with Nature. Whereas the formal logic of education deals wit the forms by which propositions’ are dependably tied together; induction is the collection of the material on which propositions must be based if theory are to be true propositions. Syllogisms may do well in relating propositions correctly; but their value depends almost entirely upon the material truth of their propositions. Does the major premise describe a fact about a class of individuals in Nature. And does the minor premise assert what is fact concerning one individual in that class? One the answer to these questions the whole value of the syllogism rests. How could men ever have come to the conclusion. “All men are mortal” without having observed a great number of people and having recognized that their lives were all terminated by death? And to do this is to follow inductive method.

Simple induction involve careful observation of Nature, accurate description of what is observed, and caution in formulating generalizations. The way in which to get acquainted with Nature as it actually is, is to go directly to Nature and see what is there. This means painstaking observation in which there is a rigorous piety ruing out everything but smile recognition of facts. In order to accumulate facts for later use in large messes, or in groups or classes, or for use by other than those making the direct observations, it is necessary to record what is observed, and to do it carefully and accurately, representing the facts only as they are. True enough one of the chief values of observing and collecting facts is the discovery of generalizations about Nature; but in this stage of induction there must be much caution. It is so easy for wishful thinking or preconceived ideas to influence the handling of the facts. Francis Bacon, the father of inductive method, even advised caution about hypotheses; he regarded them as “anticipations of Nature”. Here too, in forming conclusions, as well as in observing the facts and recording them, there must be rigorous natural piety. There must be careful and patient accumulation of the facts until the conclusion almost seems to suggest itself as the only generalization to which the facts could possibly point.


Naturalism believes that “A refined moral life is just as much a work of Nature as much a work of Nature as is a coarse and vulgar immortality. You are wrong in implying, first of all, that a natural life is an immoral life. And furthermore; your religious experience that a power from beyond yourself is sustaining you in doing good is a natural phenomenon. Nature is versatile. This experience is no doubt a valid one. You are being sustained in living a good life. For it is in harmony with Nature, when it is inclusively, to do well and avoid evil”

To naturalists, values arise from the human beings’ interaction with the environment .Instincts. Drives and impulses need to be expressed rather than repressed. According to them, there is no absolute good or evil in the world. Values of life are created by the human needs

It was against this essential unity of all values with the supernatural that the naturalists revolted. For them, all real values are rooted in nature. There is no need to call upon the supernatural realm to “sanctify” values since nature possesses its own inherent values, is its own good!

The first principle has to do with the general character of values. It is that Nature is the kind of order that just simply possesses values. According to naturalism, the values which people commonly enjoy, as well as others yet to be possessed, are resident in Nature; they do not transcend Nature. Stated from a frame of reference other than the natural versus the supernatural source of values, this principle also means that Nature has a qualitative aspect as well as an existence aspect; and when we experience the qualitative elements in Nature, we are experiencing its values. Nature is not just a machine in the sense that it merely functions, and also in the sense that man, being a part of Nature, therefore functions within it as a cog in a machine. Nature is more than a machine in that there are overtones of enjoyment and suffering which go along with this functioning; and these overtones are qualitative, they are values which are enjoyed or endured, as the case may be, concomitantly as the functioning goes on.

The second principle has to do with the way in which the most desirable values are to be realized, according to naturalism. This principle is that the way in which an individual can get the most value out of life is to harmonize his life as closely as possible with Nature. This principle was foremost, it will be recalled, in the thinking of Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius. All of these men shared In common the desire to find a life which was as free as possible from pain and suffering. And accordingly they tried to harmonize their lives as closely as possible with the rhythms of Nature, because in this harmony they felt was their greatest peace.

Ethical Value – Ethics of naturalism is hedonistic, as long as this characterization is accompanied by the caution that in the conscious though at least of many naturalists the highest good is the most highly refined and abiding pleasure.

Pleasure is easily discerned as the highest good in the thought of the ancient naturalists. It is not hard to feel what they must have felt when they desired quietude and freedom from struggle, pain and fear as the predominant inner possessions continuing uninterrupted through as many of their experiences as possible. Most of us share their desire for this same peasce and happiness, although we may not make it such a supreme value hat we will sacrifice all other possible values for it. The important thing to note about this highest moral good, first of all, is a thing to be enjoyed; it is some thing, more on the feeling side of experience, which the person who possesses it undergoes and enjoys as contentment or satisfaction. To a person so framing his conception of moral values, the pleasure ethics of naturalism may seem weak and selfish, because private enjoyment, even though it may be in no way contrary to convention, is placed prior to all other considerations.

While the highest good for naturalists is pleasure, it is important to make clear, in the second place, that many naturalists think of pleasure in the most refined and inoffensive forms when they speak of its as their highest good. George Santayana has written pointedly on this subject in a chapter entitled, “Moral Adequacy of Naturalism.” In answer to the common assumption that naturalism necessarily means coarseness in morality, he says: “Why is naturalism supposed to be favorable to the lower sides of human nature? Are not the higher sides just as natural ?……. I think that pure reason in the naturalist may attain, without subterfuge, all the spiritual insights which supernaturalism goes so far out of the way to inspire.”

This may raise questions about the evil which is the counterpart of this highest good. How is it conceived by naturalism? Since it is something to be avoided, if not escaped, as we manage our daily life and action, evil would seem to be a quality or kind of experience which is inflicted upon us. Much less is it a quality of events in which we ourselves participate or of which we are causes. Evil is a fact of Nature. There just is evil in the cosmos, in the same way that there simply is good in it. The ways by which we may seek the good, this quiescent freedom  from anguish, are considerably more restricted than the ways of living by which  evil overtakes us. Otherwise it would not be necessary to give the attention we do to the quest for the good life. There are all kinds of ways in which accidents can happen; but there is virtually only one way, certainly not more than a few ways, of being careful to avoid the accidents of life and possess the unbroken life of peace. And this is rarely possible.

The moral accidents of Nature have commonly been given the name physical evil. They are many and well known: earthquake, famine, hurricane, disease, pestilence, etc. Clearly, these are evils of Nature; man  has nothing to do with producing them, although he may tolerate conditions which if corrected, would lessen some of their effects. There are also evils, more clearly moral, which men inflict on one another. War with its inflicted death and destruction is a notable example.

What need to be noted generally about these various evils, as conceived by naturalism, is that they are qualities and events of the natural order and not the work of some evil force beyond Nature. Evil, though unwanted, is a natural phenomenon.

To summarize, we may say then that for naturalism pleasure is the highest good and therefore the basis of marl judgments; but this pleasure is very subtle and highly refined for many naturalists. To the extent that a person is consciously naturalistic in his ethics, he will make his day-by-day moral choices so as to claim for himself the fullest measure of abiding pleasure and satisfaction. The evil which it is hoped will be avoided in this way is purely a product of Nature. It is largely inflicted evil, toward which the attitude of individual man is rightly passive avoidance. Although men in the mass certainly inflict large-scale social evils on other men, it is not necessarily so that individual man unwittingly becomes a cause of evil to his neighbor and to himself.

Aesthetic Value – The principles enunciated above regarding the ethical values of naturalism hold also for aesthetic values. They, too, are rooted in nature and do not depend on any source outside nature for their validation. Nature itself provides the criterion for beauty there is no need to call upon universal principles such as unity and proportion to judge beauty. A landscape is beautiful simply because it is nature. A painting is beautiful because it reflects nature, not because it elevates man above nature.

For naturalists, as could be surmised, aesthetic experience and the values it yields are both purely natural in character and do not involve any spiritual or supernatural factors. First of all, according to naturalism, the subject who is engaged by aesthetic experience is a child of Nature. While it takes a high degree of development to yield the kind of complex nervous system which can communicate with words and other symbols, and retain meanings long enough to interrelate them in such a way as to yield aesthetic enjoyment of an object, yet that is what Nature has yielded in man. “A pattern of responses of high complexity of co-ordination is possible.” Vivas says, “because in the process of evolutionary development a nervous system, highly centralized, came into being.” Man, the subject who has aesthetic experiences, is a sentient organism developed by Nature, which is capable of centering his meanings in such a way as to experience aesthetic values. These values, therefore, do not transcend Nature; they are events in the experience of this highly developed organism which is the result alone of evolutionary processes at work in Nature.

There is also a minor sense in which aesthetic values are natural. This is that they are not superior values which only a few select people are capable of enjoying. They are values which touch areas where we all live; they are natural because they are “native in the ordinary experience of all men.”

Religious value- The religious life for naturalism is the kind of life which is so lived in the breach between present actual fact and future possible value as to replace circumstances which destroy value with circumstances which destroy value with circumstances which possess and conserve value. It is not possible, therefore, to enumerate or more specifically characterize some values and designate them as the religious values of naturalism. The chief religious value of naturalism is that aspect of Nature which makes it possible to realize values and which sustains values which are worth-while. Since all other possible values stem from this element in Nature, it is the most wrathful object that there is a greatest value above all others. The most significant life that can be lived is the life which is committed to the achieving of values in one’s own life and in the world. So that the prime imperative of a naturalistic religion is that its adherents ally themselves with the value-realizing force in Nature and help to bring into existence values which are not actual in the present.

Social Value –  Society is therefore considered less organic in naturalism than in pragmatism, as well as in idealism. It is an aspect or portion of Nature, not so much an organism that has rhythms and patterns which, while not contrary to or above Nature, are yet its won rhythms and patterns. Individual man is therefore considered as Nature’s offspring, not a child of society or a segment of society whose very being depends upon the social organism. Although dependent upon Nature, he stands on his own feet, more or less, as far as his relations to society are concerned. There are what might be called certain necessities which make it expedient for him to relate himself somewhat effectively socially; but these are not necessities arising from the operation of society as an organism, so much as they are accidents or exigencies to be avoided by working out some kind of social organization to correct them.

Rousseau’s naturalism rooted man in Nature rather than society. So much did he regard man as a child of Nature, as over against society, that he proposed in his Emile to keep Emile away from society until adolescences. In  his Social Contract he reveals how the problem of social organization is complicated by the importance of the freedom of man. Individual man, he contended, is not a man unless he is free; if he is in bondage, he is less than a man. Yet unbridled freedom is neither in harmony with his own welfare not the welfare of society. Evidently some social organization is needed, but one which preserves for man his freedom. This is a rather big order, but one which can be filled rather satisfactorily by democracy. For in democracy, although individual man sacrifices his own individual freedom by participation in the decisions which determine what the will of the state is to be.

It would seem that for naturalism social values are synthetic values which result from agreements in which individual men bind themselves together. They are secondary goods, not so much preferred as individual goods, which result indirectly as a consequence of the desire to avoid the grater evils which accompany anarchy. They are not organic values which are determined in part by the very nature of society and which would never be possessed by individual men separately, even if they did not need to be saved from conflict and chaos by some kind of social organization


However, evaluations of naturalism from  other than the supernaturalism point of view are possible. The notion that man is innately good appears too optimistic in the light of events of the past century. One might argue that man has become less human as he becomes more advanced in his evolutionary development. The cruel wars, injustice toward minorities, and many of the ills of modern man hardly suggest such optimism.

From various points of view naturalistic epistemology is too limited. To reduce knowing to experience precludes many possibilities of knowing about ethical and aesthetic values and the realm of the metaphysical.

By designating experience as the sole source of knowledge naturalism limits itself to one methodology and to a narrow curriculum divested of much of the knowledge acquired by past generations as well as of the many artistic production of the human race.


1. Bridgman PW, “On Scientific Method,” Reflections of a Physicist, 1955

2. Thilly Frank, “A History of Philosophy”, Central Publishing House, Allahabad. India.

3. Broundy, Harry S., Building a Philosophy of Education. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1961..

4. Butler, J. Donald, Four Philosophies and Their……… Education and Religion. New York : Harper & Row.

5.Herbart, J.F., The Science of Education. Boston : D.C.Heath & Company, 1902.

6.Locke, John Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1902. The basic statement of Locke’s epistemological position.

7.Wild, John, “Education and human Society : A Realistic View,” Modern Philosophies and Education. National Society for the study of Education, Fifty-fourth Yearbook, Part I. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1955.



Dr. Suraksha Bansal for being the scribe of this article.



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