Idealism and Naturalism: a Really Old Story Re-Told with Variations

In: Idealist Alternatives to Materialist Philosophies of Science

Abstract

In Chapter 7, “Idealism and Naturalism: A Really Old Story Retold with Variations,” Fred Wilson argues that naturalism cannot accept Socratic forms and necessary connections and the legacy they have bequeathed to later forms of philosophical idealism because they all violate the Principle of Acquaintance. According to this Principle, we may justifiably introduce something into our ontology only if we are acquainted with it in sensible experience or inner awareness (our passions and feelings along with reflecting on what we are acquainted with through sensible experience). Wilson uses this Principle to defend naturalism and critique philosophical idealism from Anaxagoras to Brand Blanshard. The result is a tour de force which should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the history, logic, and ontology of the debate between naturalism and philosophical idealism in the philosophy of science.