Consciousness, Emergence, and the Limits of Poetic Naturalism
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Conceptions of human flourishing vary, but there are requirements for well-being that nearly everyone would endorse: meeting basic physical and emotional needs, having opportunities for learning, mastery and self-expression, being a valued member of a secure community, and finding one’s place in the ultimate scheme of things. These domains of well-being reflect the complexity and variety of human motivations, not all of which, unfortunately, find fulfillment in every life.
The first order of business for a worldview is to represent reality more or less accurately. The articles in this section present scientific empiricism as the rational basis for worldview naturalism, as contrasted with less reliable ways of knowing.
Tikkun’s November/December 2007 cover story by David Belden, Science and Spirit, concerns the supposed dangers of scientism and the pressing need to counterbalance science with an intuitive and spiritual way of knowing. Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun and leader of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, is quoted as saying that
“The great specter of brain science is that it will demonstrate that we are merely conscious organic machines, that all our experience and behavior originate in the brain.”
As a worldview, naturalism depends on a set of cognitive commitments from which flow certain propositions about reality and human nature. These propositions in turn might have implications for how we live, for social policy, and for human flourishing. But the presuppositions, basis, and implications of naturalism are not uncontested, and indeed there’s considerable debate about them among naturalists themselves.