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The Age of Scientific Naturalism
Tyndall and His Contemporaries
Bernard Lightman
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020
Physicist John Tyndall and his contemporaries were at the forefront of developing the cosmology of scientific naturalism during the Victorian period. They rejected all but physical laws as having any impact on the operations of human life and the universe. Contributors focus on the way Tyndall and his correspondents developed their ideas through letters, periodicals and scientific journals and challenge previously held assumptions about who gained authority, and how they attained and defended their position within the scientific community.

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Articulating the World
Conceptual Understanding and the Scientific Image
Joseph Rouse
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Naturalism as a guiding philosophy for modern science both disavows any appeal to the supernatural or anything else transcendent to nature, and repudiates any philosophical or religious authority over the workings and conclusions of the sciences. A longstanding paradox within naturalism, however, has been the status of scientific knowledge itself, which seems, at first glance, to be something that transcends and is therefore impossible to conceptualize within scientific naturalism itself.
In Articulating the World, Joseph Rouse argues that the most pressing challenge for advocates of naturalism today is precisely this: to understand how to make sense of a scientific conception of nature as itself part of nature, scientifically understood. Drawing upon recent developments in evolutionary biology and the philosophy of science, Rouse defends naturalism in response to this challenge by revising both how we understand our scientific conception of the world and how we situate ourselves within it.

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The Disorder of Political Inquiry
Keith Topper
Harvard University Press, 2005

In the past several years two academic controversies have migrated from the classrooms and courtyards of college and university campuses to the front pages of national and international newspapers: Alan Sokal’s hoax, published in the journal Social Text, and the self-named movement, “Perestroika,” that recently emerged within the discipline of political science. Representing radically different analytical perspectives, these two incidents provoked wide controversy precisely because they brought into sharp relief a public crisis in the social sciences today, one that raises troubling questions about the relationship between science and political knowledge, and about the nature of objectivity, truth, and meaningful inquiry in the social sciences. In this provocative and timely book, Keith Topper investigates the key questions raised by these and other interventions in the “social science wars” and offers unique solutions to them.

Engaging the work of thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Charles Taylor, Pierre Bourdieu, Roy Bhaskar, and Hannah Arendt, as well as recent literature in political science and the history and philosophy of science, Topper proposes a pluralist, normative, and broadly pragmatist conception of political inquiry, one that is analytically rigorous yet alive to the notorious vagaries, idiosyncrasies, and messy uncertainties of political life.


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Documents of American Realism and Naturalism
Donald Pizer
Southern Illinois University Press, 1998

Donald Pizer presents the major critical discussions of American realism and naturalism from the beginnings of the movement in the 1870s to the present. He includes the most often cited discussions ranging from William Dean Howells, Henry James, and Frank Norris in the late nineteenth century to those by V. L. Parrington, Malcolm Cowley, and Lionel Trilling in the early twentieth century. To provide the full context for the effort to interpret the nature and significance of realism and naturalism during the periods when the movements were live issues on the critical scene, however, he also includes many uncollected essays. His selections since World War II reflect the major recent tendencies in academic criticism of the movements.

Through introductions to each of the three sections, Pizer provides background, delineating the underlying issues motivating attempts to attack, defend, or describe American realism and naturalism. In particular, Pizer attempts to reveal the close ties between criticism of the two movements and significant cultural concerns of the period in which the criticism appeared. Before each selection, Pizer provides a brief biographical note and establishes the cultural milieu in which the essay was originally published. He closes his anthology with a bibliography of twentieth-century academic criticism of American realism and naturalism.


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How Scientific Practices Matter
Reclaiming Philosophical Naturalism
Joseph Rouse
University of Chicago Press, 2002
How can we understand the world as a whole instead of separate natural and human realms? Joseph T. Rouse proposes an approach to this classic problem based on radical new conceptions of both philosophical naturalism and scientific practice.

Rouse begins with a detailed critique of modern thought on naturalism, from Neurath and Heidegger to Charles Taylor, Thomas Kuhn, and W. V. O. Quine. He identifies two constraints central to a philosophically robust naturalism: it must impose no arbitrarily philosophical restrictions on science, and it must shun even the most subtle appeals to mysterious or supernatural forces. Thus a naturalistic approach requires philosophers to show that their preferred conception of nature is what scientific inquiry discloses, and that their conception of scientific understanding is itself intelligible as part of the natural world. Finally, Rouse draws on feminist science studies and other recent work on causality and discourse to demonstrate the crucial role that closer attention to scientific practice can play in reclaiming naturalism.

A bold and ambitious book, How Scientific Practices Matter seeks to provide a viable—yet nontraditional—defense of a naturalistic conception of philosophy and science. Its daring proposals will spark much discussion and debate among philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science.

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Huxley's Church and Maxwell's Demon
From Theistic Science to Naturalistic Science
Matthew Stanley
University of Chicago Press, 2014
During the Victorian period, the practice of science shifted from a religious context to a naturalistic one. It is generally assumed that this shift occurred because naturalistic science was distinct from and superior to theistic science. Yet as Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon reveals, most of the methodological values underlying scientific practice were virtually identical for the theists and the naturalists: each agreed on the importance of the uniformity of natural laws, the use of hypothesis and theory, the moral value of science, and intellectual freedom. But if scientific naturalism did not rise to dominance because of its methodological superiority, then how did it triumph?
Matthew Stanley explores the overlap and shift between theistic and naturalistic science through a parallel study of two major scientific figures: James Clerk Maxwell, a devout Christian physicist, and Thomas Henry Huxley, the iconoclast biologist who coined the word agnostic. Both were deeply engaged in the methodological, institutional, and political issues that were crucial to the theistic-naturalistic transformation. What Stanley’s analysis of these figures reveals is that the scientific naturalists executed a number of strategies over a generation to gain control of the institutions of scientific education and to reimagine the history of their discipline. Rather than a sudden revolution, the similarity between theistic and naturalistic science allowed for a relatively smooth transition in practice from the old guard to the new.

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Mind, Matter, and Nature
James D. Madden
Catholic University of America Press, 2013
Written for students, Mind, Matter, and Nature presumes no prior philosophical training on the part of the reader. The book nevertheless holds the arguments discussed to rigorous standards and is conversant with recent literature, thus making it useful as well to more advanced students and professionals interested in a resource on Thomistic hylomorphism in the philosophy of mind.

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Naturalism in Question
Mario De Caro
Harvard University Press, 2008

Today the majority of philosophers in the English-speaking world adhere to the "naturalist" credos that philosophy is continuous with science, and that the natural sciences provide a complete account of all that exists--whether human or nonhuman. The new faith says science, not man, is the measure of all things. However, there is a growing skepticism about the adequacy of this complacent orthodoxy. This volume presents a group of leading thinkers who criticize scientific naturalism not in the name of some form of supernaturalism, but in order to defend a more inclusive or liberal naturalism.

The many prominent Anglo-American philosophers appearing in this book--Akeel Bilgrami, Stanley Cavell, Donald Davidson, John Dupré, Jennifer Hornsby, Erin Kelly, John McDowell, Huw Price, Hilary Putnam, Carol Rovane, Barry Stroud, and Stephen White--do not march in lockstep, yet their contributions demonstrate mutual affinities and various unifying themes. Instead of attempting to force human nature into a restricted scientific image of the world, these papers represent an attempt to place human nature at the center of renewed--but still scientifically respectful--conceptions of philosophy and nature.


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Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity
Hilary Putnam
Harvard University Press, 2016

Hilary Putnam’s ever-evolving philosophical oeuvre has been called “the history of recent philosophy in outline”—an intellectual achievement, nearly seventy years in the making, that has shaped disciplinary fields from epistemology to ethics, metaphysics to the philosophy of physics, the philosophy of mathematics to the philosophy of mind. Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity offers new avenues into the thought of one of the most influential minds in contemporary analytic philosophy.

The essays collected here cover a range of interconnected topics including naturalism, commonsense and scientific realism, ethics, perception, language and linguistics, and skepticism. Aptly illustrating Putnam’s willingness to revisit and revise past arguments, they contain important new insights and freshly illuminate formulations that will be familiar to students of his work: his rejection of the idea that an absolute conception of the world is obtainable; his criticism of a nihilistic view of ethics that claims to be scientifically based; his pathbreaking distinction between sensations and apperceptions; and his use of externalist semantics to invalidate certain forms of skepticism. Above all, Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity reflects Putnam’s thinking on how to articulate a theory of naturalism which acknowledges that normative phenomena form an ineluctable part of human experience, thereby reconciling scientific and humanistic views of the world that have long appeared incompatible.


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The Philosophy Scare
The Politics of Reason in the Early Cold War
John McCumber
University of Chicago Press, 2016
From the rise of formalist novels that championed the heroism of the individual to the proliferation of abstract art as a counter to socialist realism, the years of the Cold War had a profound impact on American intellectual life. As John McCumber shows in this fascinating account, philosophy, too, was hit hard by the Red Scare. Detailing the immense political pressures that reshaped philosophy departments in midcentury America, he shows just how radically politics can alter the course of intellectual history.  
McCumber begins with the story of Max Otto, whose appointment to the UCLA Philosophy Department in 1947 was met with widespread protest charging him as an atheist. Drawing on Otto’s case, McCumber details the hugely successful conservative efforts that, by 1960, had all but banished the existentialist and pragmatist paradigms—not to mention Marxism—from philosophy departments all across the country, replacing them with an approach that valorized scientific objectivity and free markets and which downplayed the anti-theistic implications of modern thought. As he shows, while there have since been many instances of definitive and even explosive rejection of this conservative trend, its effects can still be seen at American universities today.

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Pragmatic Naturalism
An Introduction
S. Morris Eames
Southern Illinois University Press, 1977

It is said that America came of age in­tellectually with the appearance of the pragmatic movement in philosophy. Pragmatic Naturalism presents a selec­tive and interpretative overview of this philosophy as developed in the writings of its intellectual founders and chief exponents—Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, George Herbert Mead, and John Dewey. Mr. Eames groups the leading ideas of these pragmatic natu­ralists around the general fields of “Na­ture and Human Life,” “Knowledge,” “Value,” and “Education,” treating the primary concerns and special emphasis of each philosopher to these issues.

Philosophy students, teachers of phi­losophy, and general readers will find this book a comprehensive overview of American philosophy.


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Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Revised Edition
Donald Pizer
Southern Illinois University Press, 1984

The 1966 edition of this book has be­come a standard work. In this new, re­vised edition, Pizer has dropped three chapters and has refined and extended the work by adding six: “American Liter­ary Naturalism: An Approach Through Form,” “American Literary Naturalism: The Example of Dreiser,” “The Prob­lem of Philosophy in the Naturalistic Novel,” “Hamlin Garland’s 1891 Main-Travelled Roads: Local Color as Art,” “Jack London: The Problem of Form,” and “Dreiser’s ‘Nigger Jeff’: The Devel­opment of an Aesthetic.”

The book contains definitions of real­ism and naturalism based on representa­tive novels of the period ranging from Howells’ Rise of Silas Lapham to Crane’s Red Badge of Courage; analyses of the literary criticism of the age, stressing that of Howells, Garland, and Norris; and close readings of specific works by major figures of the period.


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Recalling the Wild
Naturalism and the Closing of the American West
Lawlor, Mary
Rutgers University Press, 2000

Ever since the first interactions between Europeans and Native Americans, the “West” has served as a site of complex geographical, social and cultural transformation. American literature is defined, in part, by the central symbols derived from these points of contact. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Western frontier was declared “closed,” a demise solidified by Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1893). At the same time, “naturalism” was popularized by the writings of Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, Jack London, Willa Cather, and the photographs of Edward Curtis. Though very different artists, they were united by their common attraction to the mythic American West.

As she investigates the interactions of representations of the West, Lawlor effortlessly melds literary studies, American studies, and history. She traces the cultural conception of the American West through its incarnations in the “westernism” of Daniel Boone and James Fenimore Cooper and the romanticism of the expansive frontier they helped formulate. Simultaneously, however, the influence of evolutionism and the styles of French naturalism began to challenge this romantic idiom. This naturalistic discourse constructed the West as a strictly material place, picturing a limited and often limiting geography that portrayed regional identity as the product of material “forces” rather than of individualistic enterprise.

With subtle, probing language, Lawlor explains how literary and artistic devices helped shape the idea of the American West and the changing landscape of the continent at the turn of the last century.


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Resisting Regionalism
Gender And Naturalism In American Fiction, 1885-1915
Donna Campbell
Ohio University Press, 1997

When James Lane Allen defined the “Feminine Principle” and the “Masculine Principle” in American fiction for the Atlantic Monthly in 1897, he in effect described local color fiction and naturalism, two branches of realism often regarded as bearing little relationship to each other. In this award-winning study of both movements, Resisting Regionalism explores the effect the cultural dominance of women’s local color fiction in the 1890’s had on young male naturalist writers, who rebelled against the local colorists and their “teacup tragedies.”

An immensely popular genre, local color fiction reached its peak in the 1880s in such literary journals as Harper’s Monthly, Scribner’s, the Atlantic Monthly, and the Century. These short stories exhibited local “characters,” depicted marginal groups and vanishing folkways, and addressed issues of absence, loss, limitation, and the past. Despite such prickly themes, according to Donna Campbell, local color fiction “fulfilled some specific needs of the public – for nostalgia, for a retreat into mildly exotic locales, for a semblance of order preserved in ritual.”

By the turn of the century, however, local color fiction was fading from the scene, supplanted by writers of adventure fiction and historical romances, with whom local colorists increasingly merged, and opposed by the naturalists. In examining this historic shift, Resisting Regionalism shows that far from being distanced from local color fiction, nationalism emerged in part as a dissenting response to its popularity and to the era’s concerns about the dominance of feminine influence in American literature. The new generation of authors, including Crane, Norris, London, Frederic, Wharton, resisted the cultural myths and narrative strategies common to local colorists Sarah Orne Jewett, Rose Terry Cooke, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, and Constance Fenimore Woolson. Yet, as Campbell underscores in her analysis of Stephan Crane’s The Monster, the naturalists could, and did, integrate local color conventions with the grotesque and horrifying to powerful effect.

In clear, accessible prose, Resisting Regionalism provides fresh readings of naturalistic works in the context of the dispute between local color and naturalism. In the process, this book shows the debt naturalism owes to local color fiction and illuminates a neglected but significant literary era.


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Science without Leisure
Practical Naturalism in Istanbul, 1660-1732
Harun Küçük
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019

Science in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Istanbul, Harun Küçük argues, was without leisure, a phenomenon spurred by the hyperinflation a century earlier when scientific texts all but disappeared from the college curriculum and inflation reduced the wages of professors to one-tenth of what they were in the sixteenth century. It was during this tumultuous period that philosophy and theory, the more leisurely aspects of naturalism—and the pursuit of “knowledge for knowledge’s sake”—vanished altogether from the city. But rather than put an end to science in Istanbul, this economic crisis was transformative, turning science into a practical matter, into something one learned through apprenticeship and provided as a service. In Science without Leisure, Küçük reveals how Ottoman science, when measured against familiar narratives of the Scientific Revolution, was remarkably far less scholastic and philosophical and far more cosmopolitan and practical. His book explains why as practical naturalists deployed natural knowledge to lucrative ends without regard for scientific theories, science in the Ottoman Empire over the long term ultimately became the domain of physicians, bureaucrats, and engineers rather than of scholars and philosophers.


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Simple Mindedness
In Defense of Naive Naturalism in the Philosophy of Mind
Jennifer Hornsby
Harvard University Press, 1997

How is our conception of what there is affected by our counting ourselves as inhabitants of the natural world? How do our actions fit into a world that is altered through our agency? And how do we accommodate our understanding of one another as fellow subjects of experience--as beings with thoughts and wants and hopes and fears? These questions provide the impetus for the detailed discussions of ontology, human agency, and everyday psychological explanation presented in this book. The answers offer a distinctive view of questions about "the mind's place in nature," and they argue for a particular position in philosophy of mind: naive naturalism.

This position opposes the whole drift of the last thirty or forty years' philosophy of mind in the English-speaking world. Jennifer Hornsby sets naive naturalism against dualism, but without advancing the claims of "materialism," "physicalism," or "naturalism" as these have come to be known. She shows how we can, and why we should, abandon the view that thoughts and actions, to be seen as real, must be subject to scientific explanation.


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Thorstein Veblen and the Enrichment of Evolutionary Naturalism
Rick Tilman
University of Missouri Press, 2007

One of America’s most influential social critics, Thorstein Veblen authored works deeply rooted in evolutionary biology and American philosophical naturalism—both of which help explain his institutional economics and radical sociology. Now, one of today’s preeminent Veblen scholars ranges widely over the man’s writings to show how evolutionary naturalism underlies his social theory and criticism, shapes his satire, and binds his work together.

            Rick Tilman’s study focuses on the intersections of social theory and social psychology, political economy and political theory, and modern philosophy and intellectual history in Veblen’s thinking. It links evolutionary naturalism for the first time to Veblen’s aesthetics, secular humanism, sociology of control, sociobiology, and sociology of knowledge, and it makes groundbreaking observations regarding the relationship of Veblen’s own life to his thinking; his place as a cultural lag theorist; and his analysis of sports, gambling, and religion.

            Drawing on textual exegesis of Veblen’s work, unpublished correspondence, and selected archives, Tilman argues that only evolutionary naturalism could provide the philosophical foundations of Veblen’s thought. He also emphasizes Veblen’s role in the enhancement and embellishment of the social sciences and cultural studies, as well as his insights into the processes of change in the sociopolitical order.

            Veblen’s evolutionary naturalism, with its unflattering evaluation of America’s self-selected special place in the international arena, casts doubt on today’s foreign interventions, and it also provides a much-needed antidote to the resurgence of creationist thought in American culture. Tilman shows that Veblen’s ideas are still valuable to contemporary social scientists—indeed, that his method of analysis and values are sorely needed to help us avoid wasteful consumption, predation, and the persistence of religious superstition. This work offers readers a new appreciation of Veblen and the many issues he addressed, and of Tilman’s own masterful facility in bringing them to light. 


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Unguessed Kinships
Naturalism and the Geography of Hope in Cormac McCarthy
Steven Frye
University of Alabama Press, 2023

Literary naturalism at play in one of America’s most visionary novelists: Cormac McCarthy

It took six novels and nearly thirty years for Cormac McCarthy to find commercial success with the National Book Award–winning All the Pretty Horses, followed by major prizes, more best sellers, and Hollywood adaptations of his work. Those successes, though, have obscured McCarthy’s commitment to an older form of literary expression: naturalism.

It is hardly a secret that McCarthy’s work tends to darker themes: violence, brutality, the cruel indifference of nature, themes which would not be out of place in the writing of Jack London or Stephen Crane. But literary naturalism is more than the oversimplified Darwinism that many think of. Nature may be red in tooth and claw, and humans are part of nature, but the humanity depicted in naturalist literature is capable of love, selflessness, and spirituality, as well.

In Unguessed Kinships, Steven Frye illuminates all these dimensions of McCarthy’s work. In his novels and plays, McCarthy engages both explicitly and obliquely with the project of manifest destiny, in the western drama Blood Meridian, the Tennessee Valley Authority-era Tennessee novels, and the atomic frontier of Alamogordo in Cities of the Plain. McCarthy’s concerns are deeply religious and philosophical, drawing on ancient Greek philosophy, Gnosticism, and Nietzsche, among other sources. Frye argues for McCarthy not merely as a naturalist writer but as a naturalist in the most expansive sense. Unguessed Kinships includes biographical and historical context in each chapter, widening the appeal of the text to not just naturalists or McCarthy scholars but anyone studying the literature of the South or the West.


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Victorian Scientific Naturalism
Community, Identity, Continuity
Edited by Gowan Dawson and Bernard Lightman
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Victorian Scientific Naturalism examines the secular creeds of the generation of intellectuals who, in the wake of The Origin of Species, wrested cultural authority from the old Anglican establishment while installing themselves as a new professional scientific elite. These scientific naturalists—led by biologists, physicists, and mathematicians such as William Kingdon Clifford, Joseph Dalton Hooker, Thomas Henry Huxley, and John Tyndall—sought to persuade both the state and the public that scientists, not theologians, should be granted cultural authority, since their expertise gave them special insight into society, politics, and even ethics.
In Victorian Scientific Naturalism, Gowan Dawson and Bernard Lightman bring together new essays by leading historians of science and literary critics that recall these scientific naturalists, in light of recent scholarship that has tended to sideline them, and that reevaluate their place in the broader landscape of nineteenth-century Britain. Ranging in topic from daring climbing expeditions in the Alps to the maintenance of aristocratic protocols of conduct at Kew Gardens, these essays offer a series of new perspectives on Victorian scientific naturalism—as well as its subsequent incarnations in the early twentieth century—that together provide an innovative understanding of the movement centering on the issues of community, identity, and continuity.

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