Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Naturalism is the term that summarizes the coherent philosophical application and generalization of the methods and conclusions of the sciences. Naturalism is a tendency among thinkers, one that spans most disciplines of thought. Naturalism is not a closely defined school of philosophy, as materialism and idealism have tended to be. Thinkers identified as naturalist often have little else in common. The principal feature that naturalist thinkers share is an appreciation of the value of grounding their methods in the sciences, because of the heightened chances of securing reliable information, which in turn yields reliable knowledge. Following the thoughts of Dale Riepe, we can make some more specific points: The naturalist places a high value on reason and sense experience as the most reliable avenues of knowledge; the naturalist believes that knowledge is not mystical, innate, or intuitive; the naturalist believes that the external world, of which humans are an integral ...