A technician explains measurements whilst a scientist explains observations.

Helping empiricism gain a voice

The battle between materialism, dualism and empiricism is a serious matter. Both Dualism and Materialism stem from deep seated beliefs, in the case of Materialism* the belief is that nineteenth century cosmology holds all the answers.

Empiricism differs from Dualism and Materialism because it asks each person to take a look at what is actually occurring and asks how these events might be explained without using preconceived theories to dismiss our observations. New Empiricism continues the liberal approach of the Enlightenment by insisting on the scientific method of observing then theorising.

I hope that I have demonstrated in this Blog (see "Contents" on the left) that there are plentiful grounds for doubting materialism and no definite evidence for dualism. I interpret my observations as suggestive of the existence of spirituality but given our current state of knowledge Empiricists may believe in a God, reject a God or be agnostic. Although the ideas behind New Empiricism are too technical for the philosophical journals and too philosophical for technical journals the Internet has provided another path for publication so if you largely agree with the idea of New Empiricism you can help by mentioning it and linking to it wherever possible on the net.

Please comment freely if you wish.

*Note: there is a difference between materialism and physicalism. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for physicalism it states: "Physicalism is sometimes known as materialism. Historically, materialists held that everything was matter -- where matter was conceived as "an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist" (Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, par. 9). The reason for speaking of physicalism rather than materialism is to abstract away from this historical notion, which is usually thought of as too restrictive -- for example, forces such as gravity are physical but it is not clear that they are material in the traditional sense (Dijksterhuis 1961, Yolton 1983)."


  1. I was just turned on to this blog by a commenter over at Post Human Blues.

    Based on your description of the New Empiricism, I like it. I try to remain grounded in my own empirical observations, whether they be "outside" in the so-called "material" world, or "inside" in the subjective realm of experience.

    You have however missed the other side of the coin of materialism. Materialism is a monistic view that everything, including consciousness is from matter. Dualism claims that matter and mind are seperate and distinct things. However there is another monistic view, which is that everything is mind or consciousness, and that the material universe is a manifestation of cosmic consciousness. This is a VERY old viewpoint called Vedantism and dates back at least to the 2nd Millenium B.C.E. in India.



  2. Interesting points. I would make a distinction between materialism and physicalism, for instance gravity may be non-material and the relativistic contraction of a moving rod is not due to any material force but results from a change of viewing point (See Speacial Relativity Wikibook ). Although materialism rejects Vedantic ideas Physicalism is different and could embrace a universe that had consciousness as a fundamental constituent, physics would then be the physical relationships between these constituents.

    Descartes considered this point when he said that the universe could be a dream but even if it were a dream it would still have empirical features similar to those that he describes in his "Meditations" and there would still be relations between these features that could be described by science.

  3. Thoughts,

    Interesting site. You may want to be more explicit about what you mean by "physicalism" though. Because honestly, what you talk about often sounds to me like something along the lines of hylomorphic dualism.

  4. Hyl(e/o)morphic Dualism is attractive. If you substitute "spatiotemporal arrangements" for "substantial forms" then I would plead sort of guilty but do not believe this is dualism, its the essence of physicalism! The main argument against substantial forms is the problem that they are only knowable by interactions - but if you introduce time as a direction for arranging things then the interactions themselves are part of the form as arrangements in time.

  5. Thoughts,

    I agree it's attractive. Though I'm not sure I'd agree it's the essence of physicalism. I mean, there used to be no "physicalism", just "materialism". Materialism is something I reject, and it seems you do as well, though you say it's now only a subset of physicalism. Maybe. Complicated subject, but I'll keep on reading your site.

    Thanks for the efforts here.